I think of the Business Analyst role this way: Your project is to build a house, but before the construction crew can start on the actual foundation, they need to know what to build. In order to understand what is needed at the end, some work has to go into gathering my requirements. How many bedrooms are needed? Is a garage important? Square feet, stairs, dining room? How important is a circular driveway? What is the budget and timeline for this project? A business analyst gathers these requirements and hands them off to the project manager. If you skip gathering the requirements or do a poor job, you waste time and money because you don’t truly understand your costs, time, and scope.
Wikipedia gives this description:
“Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. The person who carries out this task is called a business analyst or BA.”
Ultimately, business analysts want to achieve the following outcomes:
- Reduce waste
- Create solutions
- Complete projects on time
- Improve efficiency
- Document requirements
“According to a new Forrester report… the reality is less precise than this description. The business analyst position varies depending on the organization, and the line between pure business functions and IT functions has eroded.
The in-depth April 2008 Forrester Research report by analysts Carey Schwaber and Rob Karel provides a better understanding of this crucial yet largely undefined role. ‘Everyone agrees on the importance of the business analyst role,’ the analysts write, ‘but few know exactly what it is that business analysts do.’”
It is beneficial to have both a Project Manager and a Business Analyst. As the BA gathers and writes the requirements, the PM makes adjustments to the project as needed. Both positions require good communication, client management, negotiation, and systems development life cycle skills. Sometimes a person wears both a PM and BA hat.
A few years ago the IIBA came out with the CBAP certification. While many people wanted the certification, they did not meet the requirements to apply:
- At least five years professional experience in a BA role. 7,500 hours of Business Analysis hands-on experience in the past 10 years
- Achieved a minimum of a high-school qualification
- At least twenty-one hours of professional development in areas related to Business Analysis in the last four years
- References from two people (your manager, a co-worker, a client, or someone already CBAP certified) saying that you are a good candidate for the CBAP
Later the IIBA came out with the CCBA certification, which allowed more people to qualify since it required 3,750 hours of BA experience over the past 7 years. The rest of the requirements remain the same. You can visit here for more information on the IIBA certifications.