The Four Habits of Highly Effective Business Analysts
Take it from a business analyst (BA): business analysts are really important. On the level of the products they help create, the projects we take on, and the marketing team we support, a savvy analyst adds significant value. There are four primary areas where this value expresses itself: efficiency, communication, project focus, and vision.
From a 20,000-foot view, a business analyst works to sand down the rough edges of the process, and enable higher levels of efficiency. They accomplish this by:
- Asking questions and getting answers early and often to identify and rectify unknowns.
- Translating the business needs of a client into action items developers can digest and implement.
- Establishing streamlined processes.
These efforts give everyone downstream in the project the information they need, when they need it, to quickly and creatively execute.
On recurring work or maintenance projects, business analysts also look to enable repeatable processes through observation, continuous improvement, and documentation. By establishing efficient repetition we help the team increase productivity and reduce inconsistency in the final product. In the end, this allows the agency to move faster and achieve goals sooner.
Business analysts strive to define project goals, priorities, and requirements with crystalline clarity. Our business analysts ensure everyone on both client and internal teams are working from the same playbook and speaking the same language. At the most basic level, we’re explainers. We translate business requests into technical requirements, then turn the technical information we receive from developers into language that’s intelligible to the rest of the project team.
Because business analysts act as the nerve center of so many projects, we accumulate knowledge that makes us valuable sources of information. Part of our responsibility is to record as much as possible throughout the project lifecycle. This means working with stakeholders, understanding their needs, and drawing out their goals and desired outcomes for a project. It is the responsibility of a BA to dig deep to uncover the dreams of the client and interpret them as tangible requirements.
Business analysts are charged with shepherding a project through development, and ensuring it satisfies the client's business needs. They work closely with project managers and account managers to define the scope, establish requirements, and develop a backlog for the future. Business analysts know squarely what is in scope and what is out.
Because the responsibility for defining precisely what the product should do rests with business analysts, designers and developers are freed up to focus on the how. This gives them the bandwidth to dream up new ideas, foster innovation, and bring the product to life.
While business analysts spend a lot of time in the weeds — managing the day-to-day of project requirements—we also keep an eye toward the future.
BAs pride themselves on working collaboratively with clients to deeply understand their business, the broader industry environment it operates within, and their competition. We also cultivate expertise in digital trends and emerging technologies that could impact their organization(s). This means understanding their business goals, and assessing new technologies or opportunities through this lens.
This vision, ultimately, is core to the value we provide. We don’t merely transcribe objectives and write requirements. We collaborate with clients to make big picture decisions about their future, and set a course that allows them to realize their goals.