Tips to be an effective Business Analyst

As a business analyst, being assigned a new project can be exciting. However, there may be times where you are wondering what exactly is expected from you, what you should be creating and how to be successful during your project. You may go from being responsible for a multimillion-pound project which lasts 6 months, to a project which lasts 2, but the process of each project should be similar. Therefore, the tips given below will help you to be successful in any project whether you’re in an agile environment or a traditional one. Depending on the variables of the project, it will depend on how long it takes you to go through these steps. Either way, in case of any doubt of expectation, these tips will help you to remain as an effective business analyst.

Being adaptable

A business analyst is normally expected to jump into a project and start contributing as quickly as possible. Sometimes, the project is already underway and other times you will be there for when the project starts. Taking some time to understand the project and adapt to its needs will enable you to move quickly and be an effective contributor to the project. In order to be adaptable, you will need to ensure that the following responsibilities are attended to:

  • Understanding who the primary stakeholders are so you can engage them in the projects scope and objectives
  • Understand the project history, if there is one, so you don’t repeat work, waste time or bring up previously made decisions.
  • Familiarise yourself with existing systems and business processes that are being used so you have a clear picture of the current business systems and what needs to change.

Familiarise yourself with the primary business objectives

If a project is already underway when you join, then it is important to familiarise yourself with the business objectives before moving on. However, if you are there when the project is starting then getting an agreement on business needs before the scope is defined is the quickest way to be an effective business analyst and have a successful project.

To help with understanding the primary business objectives, you should discover what the stakeholder’s expectations are and understanding the “why” behind the project. It is also important to resolve any conflict regarding the expectations of a project so that when the project begins, the business objectives are not created on one person’s perspectives. Lastly, it is important that as a business analyst, you ensure all business objectives are clear and actionable so you can provide the team with context when they define a scope and detailed requirements.

Define your scope

Defining the scope will provide the team with the concept to realise the business needs. The scope helps each member of the team to visualise their contribution to the project and the implementation. When defining your scope for a project, you should review your scope statement with the relevant business and technology stakeholders, so they are prepared to agree to the document. Along with the document, you should provide a solution approach to determine the nature and extent of technology and business process changes to achieve the business objectives.

Create your business analysis plan

A business analysis plan is very important when completing a project. It is used to successfully define the detailed requirements for the project and answer many questions that you or the team will have. When creating your business analysis plan, you should choose the most appropriate types of deliverables, project scope, project methodology and other key aspects of the project. Making a list of specific business analysis deliverables that cover the scope and identifies stakeholders should be included in your business analysis plan along with a timeframe for completing the deliverables. Be sure to include everything that goes into defining the detailed requirements as this makes the plan realistic.

Identify the detailed requirements

Detailed requirements are important as they provide the implementation team with information that they will need to implement the solution. Without clear and concise requirements, the implementation team will fail to connect the dots and may produce something that differs from the original business case.

Therefore, to be an effective business analyst you must ensure that you understand what the business community want from a certain feature or process change. From the information you have gathered, you will need to produce a draft of business analysis deliverables which contain the detailed requirements for the project. Once this is completed you must review and validate each deliverable with the correct technology and business stakeholders.

Give your support to the technical implementation

During a project, there will be a large part of the solution that will require technical implementation in building, customising and deploying software. As a business analyst there are many ways in which you can support the technical team with their implementation to help drive success and ensure the business objectives are met. Steps to help the technical implementation team may be:

  • Reviewing the solution design to ensure that it fits all the requirements and business needs
  • Updating or repackaging the requirements documentation so it is useful for the technical implementation team.
  • Making yourself available to answer questions to resolve any issues that the technical implementation team have.
  • Monitoring and changing the requirements if necessary so everyone is working from up to date documents.
  • Leading testing efforts which are completed by the business community to ensure the software meets the needs of the business end users.

Help the business to implement the solution

To be an effective business analyst, it has been noted that the business analyst is starting to get involved with helping the business to implement the solution. The technical team could produce a solution which theoretically meets the business objectives, but if your business users do not use it in the way it was intended, then your project will not be delivered on the original objectives. To help the business you can analyse and develop interims that articulate exactly what changes need to be made. You can also train end users, so they are aware and understand all the process changes. Lastly you can collaborate with business users to update assets impacted by the business and technology changes.

Asses the value which is created by the solution

Through the course of a project, a lot of things happen, and this can have an impact on the value of the project. When these things happen, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Keeping a track record of all the changes made throughout the project whether they are big or small can help maintain a positive momentum within an organisation. However, if you don’t stop and assess the value created by the solution then how do you know if you’re operating from a track record of success?

To be an effective business analyst, you can evaluate the progress made against the business objectives to show which objectives have been fulfilled to maintain the value of the project. You can communicate the results to the project team and members of the organisation and suggest follow up projects to realise the intended business objectives and to solve new problems.