Table of contents
- Challenges and opportunities for business analysts in organizations today
- Role of business analyst from past 30 years:
- Techniques and skills for Business Analyst:
A Business Analyst is responsible for knowing what the goal of a project is, how to achieve it, managing any changes to the goal, and ensuring that all deliverables are aligned with the goal.
Most of the people fail to understand the meaning of Business analysis, Business analysis is the process of determining business needs and providing solution for the issues. Some say it is not really a profession, but more of a line of work or collection of activities. Others say it is a business practice . The International Institute of Business Analysis defines business analysis as “the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysis enables an enterprise to articulate needs and the rationale for change, and to design and describe solutions that can deliver value” 
According to my understanding business analysis is the activity of identifying the business's needs to improve its performance by accessing multiple models and technology, and the person who performs these activities is known as a Business analyst. BA are the one who bridges the gap between the business and technology, today’s business analysts are considered as all-rounders as in they need to manage the change is business goals, formulate the business strategy, developing business models, managing the workflow ( more like a manager role), finding the business problems and resolving the same.
Challenges and opportunities for business analysts in organizations today
One of the challenges faced by the business today is the business analysis framework related IT system development , I understand that there is a lack of understanding in the requirement analysis. According to the research, most of the software development failures and deficiencies are related to requirement gathering . The reason is pointed towards the Business analysts with the inadequacy of relevant skills and knowledge on business analysis activities.
Few of the other challenges are unrealistic expectations, users and management give solutions not requirements, business analysts don't understand business complexities, combining tech and non-tech vocabulary, Business Analysts do not ask the right questions, do not listen to the business owners, problems not completely defined, scope not defined, Getting requirements from just one person and misunderstandings and misinterpretations 
In my perspective with unclear requirements and if the requirements change there will be a huge impact on the project which may lead to project failure and according to my understanding BA with skill full knowledge has a lot of opportunities in most of organizations today.
In this modern world, effective supply chain management has become a potentially valuable way of increasing organizational performance where BA business analysis is identified as an important tool for SCM. BA is not a technology, but a group of approaches, organizational procedures, and tools used in combination with one another to gain information, analyze that information and predict outcomes of problem solutions in any of the four areas (Plan, Source, Make, and Deliver) BA are being increasingly used in SCM, improving SC performance has become a continuous process that requires an analytical performance measurement system.
Business analysis is gaining importance, what i observe is the companies that are more process-oriented are in a better position to utilize BA to improve their performance. This means BA systems have to be process-oriented to link across breaks at both the strategic and tactical levels. Fig1 represents the relationship between BA activities and the supply chain performance, which represents the importance of Business analytics.
Figure 1 
The rise of the internet has led to the rise of big data. Currently, a huge explosion of data is observed in many organizations in the world. Industry analysts and businesses are looking toward Big Data as the next big thing to provide opportunities, insights, solutions, and a new way to increase profits in business .
Looking at big data I can say that its main task is related to data management to store and handle the data, here it requires businesses to understand the various problems with the existing data which is real challenge this opens the gate for the business intelligence team which are also known as Business analysts.
Till now i have walked you through the opportunities for business analysts in supply chain and big data management, now let’s get into the role of BA and how it’s been changing.
Role of business analyst from past 30 years:
Over time the project life cycle has changed and yes it has impacted the BA role. Looking at the early 1990’s system and process errors often had manual back-up procedures. Now we are so dependent on technology, that in many cases, business shuts down when the system does not work, orders don’t process, inventory does not move, or money doesn’t flow .
Fifteen years ago, most BAs were probably working on in-house software/process projects that involved 2-3 systems and manual paper procedures, supporting a single business unit or product. The entire project team shared space on one floor or even one large room and many of the stakeholders were just a few floors away. BAs often grew to understand systems and processes so well, they did not need extensive assistance from subject matter experts .
Business and project complexity grow as companies expand and merge, and it’s happening more often and faster than before.
Below are the few points that has impacted the BA role:
- Accurate requirements become even more important than in the past as customers and operations are impacted more when requirements are missed.
- Contingency plans for key functions become critical to protect employee/customer relationships.
- BAs become risk managers and need to effectively communicate risks, dependencies, and constraints so that projects do not move forward with bugs, gaps or inefficiencies that will compromise the value of the solution being implemented.
- BAs need to be able to adapt and work with changing requirements to ensure the most value is delivered.
In the 1990s, most BAs worked in a traditional waterfall environment where templates were the norm and the software development life cycle was clearly defined with a regimented organization-wide or application release schedule.
Today few organizations continue to operate in this fashion, but more organizations are trending to using an Agile or hybrid approach to deliver solutions.
A practical definition of analytics is how a business arrives at an optimal or realistic decision based on the existing data .
The period of the 1950s to the mid-2000s is known as the era of Business intelligence where descriptive analytics and reporting activities were used for internal data analysis, spreadsheets and other tools used for large quantities of information. In 1980s computers were used as decision support systems, since then analytics began to evolve with the development of a wide variety of software tools and applications
In the era of Big data (mid-2000s to 2015) - internet-based companies such as google, eBay, and Amazon began to collect and analyze the new kind of information captured from social networks.
Table 1 shows the different activities performed by business analysts over time from the 1980s to 2010s.
- Interactive reports
- Self-service visual
- Data storytelling
Table 1 
As business users interfaced directly with software engineers their needs got lost in translation. They simply could not speak “technology” and articulate their needs effectively while programmers could not always interpret what the business users were trying to convey, this led to the raise of Business analysis today.  Business analysts are usually called system analysts and they were typically played by software engineers in addition to his programming duties. The modern Business Analyst is not only concerned with the requirements, but also the meaning of the requirements.
Till now I have reflected on the various role of a business analyst from the early 1990s where they used papers for documentation of reports and now using technology to generate the reports, earlier BA used the waterfall model, and today they use Agile methodologies like scrum and XPS. In today’s organization role of BA is not just the generation of reports it involves project management, stakeholder analysis, risk management, consulting, identifying the business issues, and providing the solution for the same.
Techniques and skills for Business Analyst:
Looking at the early 1990’s the BA was just analyzing the business needs and documenting the solutions to improve the business performance there was no coding or technical knowledge required, but today the scenario is different there are important technical and functional skills required for a Business analyst.
Below i have described few important skills that today's Business analysts require to stand out successful in their careers.
Business sense: BA are considered as business domain experts, they need to understand the trends and norms in the industry they work.
Strong Communication: This is one of the important skills required for most of the job in today's world, looking at BA they need to interact with customers/stakeholders, create business documents, and articulate their findings in a business context.
Listen and question: Listening makes all the difference by helping to identify, understand and address the needs of customers/stakeholders. As a business analyst one needs to challenge the business they operate in and ask the true question to understand what the customer needs.
Research capabilities: As a BA one must research and gather the relevant information. This helps the analysts to analyze and come up with multiple unique solutions.
Technical and analytical skills: In today’s organization this is considered as one of the important skills, BA needs to have the technical programing language such as R, Python or Tableau which helps to represent their understanding visually through graphs to the stakeholders. BA must be analytically strong, which involves visualizing and evaluating the problems and then solving them using optimal methods.
For data, analysis BA should have a basic knowledge of using any one of the tools such as R, Python, Tableau, MS office suite, MS Excel and so on. This helps them to interpret their understanding visually to the customers/stakeholders.
However, apart from the above skill BA needs to understand how to use the frameworks, and agile methodologies. They can do certifications such as Prince for project planning and management, CBAP – Certified business analyst professional etc. which will help the BA to succeed in their career.
The pressure that a Business analyst encounters and strategies to overcome the same.
It is seen that day by day the use of technology is been increased and customers are expecting the solution in a short period. Here I would like to say time and cost have always been the focus of solution delivery Organizations apply strong pressure on their project teams to deliver solutions faster. This pressure has resulted in tighter timelines for BA’s to perform business analysis and finalizing on the requirements.
Sudden requirements change also makes the business analyst to work under pressure and make the new changes to accommodate in the agreed timelines. From the pie chart (source ) it is clearly seen stakeholder holders are the primary reason for the BA being under pressure, the reason being Stakeholders imposing the BA views, and Stakeholders causing delays in providing input. The second reason is pointed towards time constraints.
Figure 3 
According to my understanding BA will be loaded with multiple projects and deadlines with pressure, below are a few strategies that can help to overcome the pressure.
- First thing is to plan and prioritize the projects based on deadlines and allocate the time for each project and track the progress for the same.
- Use the BA tools and techniques to maximize the efficiency.
- Scheduling frequent meetings to track the progress of the project.
- Communicate with stakeholder and make sure the requirement is in line with the scope, because most of the project gets delayed when the stakeholder take more time the give the input.
- Make sure not to accept the change in requirements once the project is signed off and convince the stakeholder that new changes will be done in next release.
Overall, I would like to summarize the business analyst is evolving role, from using paper-based documentation to using Big data analytics technology has taken the business analyst role to another level, and companies have realized their need for strong business requirements to support their IT efforts. BA is a project management support role rather than a leader. While PMs always need our assistance, all projects benefit from having a strong BA with a focus on delivering the business needs. I can say Business Analyst is a navigator, responsible for reaching the end destination, which means a satisfying resolution of a business problem. The BA’s always knows what the end destination is, and how to get there, and is capable of handling course adjustments as they arise.
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