How Business Analysts Create Value

How Business Analysts Create Value


I’m Laura Brandenburg, from Bridging the
Gap. We help business analysts start their careers. Today, I want to talk about how you, as a
business analyst, are adding value to your organization. We’re going to use the concept of return
on investment. We’re going to break down, specifically,
how business analysis and business analysts create a better return on investment when
they’re assigned to critical projects in their organization. Let’s dive right in. First, return on investment. What does that mean? The acronym for that is ROI. It’s the weight or the value of the return
on a project, or what benefit the organization receives vs. the investment that the organization
makes in that project. If an organization invests in software development
team to build or customize or implement a new software solution in all the business
stakeholder time that goes in to figuring out what that system should do, that’s the
investment. The time, the money, the energy that gets
invested in creating that solution. The return is the benefit that organization
receives from that solution once it’s in place in the business. It could be more efficient turnaround time,
more customers, more revenue, more efficiency, relieving staff that can be re-used on other
projects, or being able to eliminate exterior staffing or redundant staffing. Lots of ways to measure the return on that
project. Business analysts, we impact both sides of
that equation. We help streamline the investment – minimize
the investment in the project actually is – and, also, maximize the return. Maximize the value we’re getting out of
that process. That probably sounds counterintuitive at first. I want to dig in to the specific ways that
business analysts do this and give you a few examples as well. Let’s talk about how business analysts reduce
the investment, or the cost of a project. This probably does feel counterintuitive if
you’re thinking…you’re a hiring manager and you’re like, “Well, should I add a
business analyst to my team? Isn’t that an additional cost? Aren’t I expanding how much this project
is going to cost? Why don’t we just get starting coding, because
that’s what we really need? We need that code, or we need that configured
system into our business user’s hands. Why don’t we just skip the analysis and
go right to coding?” Well, we know it doesn’t always work that
way, but some specific ways that business analysts help reduce costs, even though, of
course, their salary is a line item on your budget for the project, is that they’re
going to reduce re-work. So, when you just start coding and start figuring
things out, and then you put that into the hands of a business user, they’re going
to be like, “Oh, no. I didn’t really want this. I wanted that.” All of a sudden, something that maybe seemed
simple, gets complex as like stakeholder requests come in, defects come in, change requests
come in, and you have this re-work where you’re going back and revisiting the same code, the
same implementation again, again, and again. That is, obviously, you know, your costs go
from here to here. You add some analysis upfront to figure out
what is needed, and that re-work time should go down. The other place that business analysts have
an effect on project costs is in the reduction of what I like to call requirements turn,
or the time it takes for the business community to figure out what it is they actually want. A lot of times, that isn’t like a line item
cost on a budget. But if you think about a requirements meeting,
especially one that might have high level stakeholders in the room, there’s a definite
cost to that meeting. If you’re having duplicate meetings again,
and again, and again to discuss the same issue and never getting to a solution, that’s
an expense that your organization is taking on that’s bloating the impact, or cost,
of what needs to be invested to figure out those requirements. Good business analysis is going to help present
solutions, create a logical decision-making process, remind people we went down that road
before, we don’t need to go down that rabbit hole again, and plug those communication gaps,
and help facilitate communication across departments, across different levels of the organization. Yes, that process takes time. It’s not like you put a business analyst
in and, snap, they come up with the requirements. But it’s going to take less time and less
churn than if you didn’t have somebody who was in charge facilitating that part of the
process. Finally, when it comes to the investment side
of the equation, the other way that business analysts can help is helping find more cost-effective
solutions. When you dial into what problem are we solving
– you’ll hear me say that again and again – what problem are we solving? Why is this project being implemented in the
first place? Sometimes creative solutions just pop up. They don’t even have to be big technology
solutions. Maybe there are tools that you can use that
you already have. Maybe there’s a business process change
that can get you a certain amount of the way there. That’s where we can take what maybe was
a big investment and reduce that by half and still get that same return. It doesn’t always happen. But if it is possible, your business analyst
is going to help you find it. Let’s talk about the other side of the equation
and how business analysts help you increase the potential return, or what the benefits
are from that project. Remember, we’ve made an investment in a
solution, and now it’s out in the business. How does that have more benefit? The first thing is we talked about how a business
analyst is always going to go try to find the problem to be solved. Not try; will find the problem to be solve. As part of that, we often discover new business
benefits. While we’re looking at this part, is there
something here that we can do as well? I remember early on in my career meeting with
an end user who was showing me how they were copying and pasting documents into this field. They had to edit it, too, because it wasn’t
copying right. It ended up being a simple change to enable
the work flow and save them tons of time. As a business analyst, I could see there was
a possibility of as we were touching the system to add on a piece that would save them a lot
of time in their workflow. Until I saw their work environment, I would
have never known that. It would have never made it into the requirements
for that project if we hadn’t analyzed their current business process and understood how
their work flowed. There were lots of ways we could have solved
that problem. It ended up being a small technology tweak
that added a lot of value. That’s an example of discovering new business
needs that can be easily included in the investment that’s already being made to deliver even
more value to the business. Another way that business analysts support
that increase of value is through prioritization. Typically, it would be like we want all the
things, the list of all these requirements and let’s just say it’s 100 things. We hand that to our development team. They start going through them in order. Maybe they group them by technical component
or area of the system and implement them that way. When you do that, and you say all these things
are required, maybe the first 10 things aren’t the most important things. Maybe they’re not the most valuable. Maybe we start working on an area of the system,
and three of those things are important and another five of them are just nice-to-haves
that complicate the system more than it needs to be and don’t deliver the value that needs
to be. Relentless focus on that prioritization in
making sure the most important requirements get dealt with first in the project that we
know what the most important ones are, which ones are going to add the most value, and
then make sure those are clearly communicated as part of building the solution. Another way that business analysts increase
that return is the way that they facilitate this communication with the business community. I have his story I love to share where I walked
into a contract as a consultant and they had implemented a document management system. There were business users printing the document
twice. The goal of that system was to reduce paper
and make the process more efficient. After the system, they were printing and writing,
and uploading and writing, and uploading and printing. Multiple steps, additional steps, in order
to use the system that IT said they needed to use in a way that was going to work with
what they understood their business process to be. As a business analyst, we don’t stop when
the solution is built. We stop when the business has accepted that
solution and understands what their updated business process is going to be. That’s where the real business value gets
realized. One final way that we help increase the return
is providing a framework where IT can scale. If you’re a small organization, or with
a smaller team, you can communicate well, and you can have a tight knit team where everybody
knows what each other does and who to ask what questions. As you start scaling your capabilities and
scaling your team and growing your organization, that informal kind of “everybody knows each
other” communication tends not to scale. And you need somebody in the middle of engaging
the new business stakeholders, helping educate the new business stakeholders, figuring out
who knows what in technology to facilitate that as well. Think of your business analyst as a role that’s
going to help that IT team scale to deliver even more value to the business and help your
business scale as well. Those are my immediate takeaways on how business
analysts add value on projects. It’s just scratching the surface. There’s a lot more that we could cover here. I’m going to challenge you, if you’re
a business analyst listening in, think about it. Are you adding value in all of these ways
in your organization? If not, where could you be adjusting how you
approach your work to add more value? This is what’s going to increase your reputation,
get you on the interesting projects, be the person that everybody wants to work with because
they know when they work with you, they’re going to have a value-added resource on their
team. If you’re a hiring manager or a technology
leader, or a business leader who’s wondering if you should start a business analyst team,
think about where you’re experiencing some of the pain points that we just talked about
and who in your organization could start doing these activities, stepping in to this business
analyst role, and creating a more predictable project life cycle and development process. It’s going to help your projects be more
successful, and it’s also going to help people on those projects be happier because
they know that they’re contributing to a successful project as well. Those are my tips for you. Leave a comment below. Let me know how you add value as a business
analyst or anything you’re going to change as a result of listening to today’s video. Again, I’m Laura Brandenburg, from Bridging
the Gap.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

5 Comments

  1. My focus is always helping everyone take that step back and consider why, on anything I see as potentially causing an issue, or already doing so.

  2. Hi mam,
    Plz tell me How I can list all features of a website.
    for example www.trippy.com
    I want to list all the features of this website.

  3. I would like to know more about the business Analysts job , How can i reach you.. i love the information has been shared

  4. From what I've watched so far, a Business Analyst is basically a developer who has obtained critical thinking skills and constantly is analyzing and improving User Experience through feedback they actively go out to seek. They act as a intermediate to help smooth things over. And they are a leader and role model that the others look up to, a charismatic person that doesn't play the blame game. They are here to make things better, not punish those that are struggling.

  5. That was very interesting. Good interview fodder as well. I like to become a trusted advisor. A neutral go-to person when people are having problems or a great idea. Also BA can play a big role in change management.

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