In 2018, Fhyzics conducted the National Conference on Business Analysis (NCBA-2018) jointly with Jeppiaar Engineering College at Chennai. As part of the event, we had discussions with business analysts from different sectors on how to define business analyst role. I found one unique commonality and one stark difference. All business analysts have elaborate discussions with the stakeholders, gather requirements, document requirements, analyze the requirements and then recommend solution to their clients or organizations, which is the most common thing all business analysts would do. This I would call it as the fundamental feature of business analysis role. On the other hand, these business analysts were carrying out activities aimed to achieve certain outcome of value to the organisation that were completely different from each other.
After series of discussions, now I am convinced that we as business analysts use the same MEANS (requirements gathering/documentation/analysis) to achieve different ENDS (various objectives) of organizations. If we all talk about the MEANS, we will sound same to everyone and on the other hand if we talk about the ENDS, we will present a picture as if we are talking about two different professions. That is the complexity of business analysis nature of work. The purpose of this post is to organize these differences using an Eight-Dimension Approach.
A business analysts’ role in an organization can be best understood across the following 8 dimensions. At a junior level a BA may be working at one or two dimensions, but as they raise in their career, they may be handling more dimensions. Some one at the level of say VP-Business Analysis or a Principal Consultant, he or she may perform activities that spans through all the 8 dimensions of course with the support of their army of business analysts. None of these dimensions are standalone but crisscross each other depending upon the nature of the project or company or industry.
Dimension-1: Domain: May be a decade ago, business analyst position is well reserved only for the IT and ITES industries, but today almost all the industries employ business analysts as they have found out the value of business analysis. There are two types of domains, one is functional domain (such as HR, Sales, Finance etc.) and the other is industry domain (such as Banking, Insurance, IT and Automotive etc.). A business analyst’s domain is formed at a cross-section between the functional domain and the industry domain. Hence a business analyst needs to be knowledgeable about the scope of this cross-section, which forms the platform for his or her working.
Dimension-2: Business Architecture: The business analysts working on the business architecture must have several years of experience in the domain / organization and should be able to visualize the organization in a holistic manner. An organization is made up of several components and the job of this business analyst is to align them to deliver superior performance. This activity is more important at the time of beginning an organization, Mergers & Acquisitions and re-engineering. In the normal course of business, things will change because of the internal and external factors acting on the organisation and it becomes the responsibility of the business analyst to constantly find out those imbalances and address them to bring equilibrium to the organization.
Dimension-3: People: While establishing an organization or expanding an organization, business analysts are asked to develop the job descriptions for the roles so that the right people capabilities would be recruited by the HR Team. On the other hand, to solve an organizational problem, a business analyst may recommend one or more missing people capabilities within an organization.
Dimension-4: Process: Process improvement is one of the most important activity performed by most of the business analysts. Either they may work on process design or improving an existing process to the new level. Hence a business analyst needs to be adept in process mapping techniques and process improvement philosophies such as Lean, Six Sigma, Total Productive Maintenance, Total Quality Management, Business Process Management, Re-engineering and Theory of Constraints.
Dimension-5: System: Business analyst is an important contributor while migrating from a legacy system to a new system or while automating an existing system. Here the word system refers to software, application, machinery, building etc. Either the new system may be an in-house project or may be bought from the market. Here he will act as the bridge between the project team and the stakeholders.
Dimension-6: Product: In some product-based organizations, a business analyst may be assigned to a product development team, where he or she will be dedicated working to support the product development team or to improve the existing product. The product could be a machinery, software or a service.
Dimension-7: Internal Focus: Business analyst is an internal consultant for the organization. Any small or large problems faced by the organization is assigned to the business analyst. It becomes her responsibility to define the problem and identify the root causes of it. Then after having a detailed requirement gathering and analysis, she will recommend the appropriate solution that would solve the problem or address the root causes.
Dimension-8: External Focus: The external environment of an organization constantly changes in terms of competitors, customers, regulators, government, activists, NGOs etc. A business analyst should be aware of all these changes and the trend in which things are progressing. Based on the business analyst’s assessment necessary changes may have to be carried out within or outside the organization.
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Venkadesh Narayanan is the Principal Consultant at Fhyzics Business Consultants Pvt. Ltd. with over 25 years’ experience in business consulting, business analysis, process improvement, supply chain and new product development. He is a mechanical engineer and an MBA worked for several organizations in India, USA and Canada prior to joining Fhyzics. He is a former Indian Civil Servant [IRAS 2000 Batch] and served in Ministry of Railways, Government of India. You can find some of the videos of Venkadesh Narayanan on various topics in our YouTube Channel Business Analysis Digest and also feel free to connect with him through LinkedIn.
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