"Business Analysis is the process of understanding business change needs, assessing the impact of those changes, capturing, analysing and documenting requirements and then supporting the communication and delivery of those requirements with relevant parties."

A Bit of History

Requiring straightforward automation of repetitive administrative tasks and conversion from paper to electronic data storage, IT projects of the seventies and early eighties could not fail to be successful and reap financial rewards.

Systems Analysts took responsibility for documenting existing manual paper based processes, identifying problems and new business requirements, and then automating these processes through computerised systems. This provided significant savings in staff as well as improvements to customer service through access to electronic information in fractions of a second.

Throughout the late 1980's and 1990's, companies started to evolve their IT systems to take advantage of new technology as they attempted to make further savings or improvements in service. However, IT projects in this era continually failed. They either failed to deliver at all, or were delivered without providing any significant business benefits.

The reasons for failure were that projects became unfocussed, receiving (sometimes conflicting) demands from different business departments. Systems were developed with unrealistic business cases, without clear objectives, with unmanaged expectations of performance or merely to follow the 'emperors new clothes syndrome' of jumping on the latest technology bandwagon.

Business users became increasingly frustrated with the barriers that limit their ability to implement change promptly and effectively. As PC and server technology evolved, business users became wise to IT and started to purchase and build their own localised systems. This has left many companies in a position where as well as their existing 'legacy' systems, they have hundreds of different systems which often link in an uncontrolled fashion with no real documentation to explain the links.

The Business Analyst has Evolved

Throughout this period, the role of the Systems Analyst evolved into the Business Analyst. This role encompasses more than the ability to document processes and apply technological expertise.

While the Systems Analyst belonged to the IT department, Business Analysts can now be found within a number of places in organisation structures:

  • Within the IT department acting as a conduit to and from the business
  • Within individual business units with responsibility for identifying business needs
  • Within a change management department coordinating and managing change across the whole business

But wherever they sit, Business Analysts must be great communicators, tactful diplomats, problem solvers, thinkers and analysers - with the ability to understand and respond to user needs in rapidly changing business environments.

We define the purpose of the role of the Business Analyst as being ultimately responsible for ensuring that organisations get the most from their limited IT and change management resource.

Business Analysts are responsible for identifying change needs, assessing the impact of the change, capturing and documenting requirements and then ensuring that those requirements are delivered by IT whilst supporting the business through the implementation process. Business Analysts should not just write specifications and then leave them to be delivered. The development lifecycle is an iterative one and the Business Analyst must be involved from initial concept through to final implementation.

Business Analysts are likely to be the key change facilitators within your organisation. They must deliver effective solutions which provide tangible business benefits usually within short timescales.



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