– I believe the prominence of business analytics will expand alongside the increasing number of products and the constant development of technologies. The more complex a product is, the more information we need before we start development,” Olena Myslitska, Business Analyst at ELEKS, told us. Among other things, we talked to her about whether every organization needs a Business Analyst.
Should every BA feel a „burning need to see the bigger picture”? Why?
Absolutely. Let’s imagine we are solving a puzzle. We take details one by one and don’t understand what they depict. It’s a natural wish to look at the whole picture and align a certain puzzle with it. The same is here. A BA is a person who shows a team what they should develop. They describe the whole picture. A team is eager to understand the purpose, values, and flows. If the BA doesn’t see the big picture, he or she is unable to perform their task. What’s more, by describing only details, the BA can skip a lot of such things as connections, dependencies, cases, and edge cases, which leads to time extension and further rework. On top of that, if the change request happens, the big picture is needed to perform an impact analysis and find out what is supposed to be affected by this change. Otherwise, it’s work in the dark.
What other qualities are useful in BA work?
Honestly, there are a lot of them, from good communication and facilitation skills to analytical and critical thinking. However, I would point out flexibility in all its manifestations. BAs should be ready to adapt to each client individually. It’s also important to accept changes to the functionality. It’s even more important to be able to switch your BA approach depending on a project, the number of BAs in a project, a team, or a certain team member. This quality makes work easy and pleasant.
What questions do you ask most often? What do you aim to learn everyday to enhance your ability to accomplish tasks?
The most frequently asked questions are: “What is the problem we want to resolve?”, “Who and why needs this?”, “What are the consequences if we don’t have this?”, “What is a thing without which the project wouldn’t be started?” All of them need to realize the root causes of the problem and the core need, which in turn allows us to create a genuinely valuable product and satisfy a client. A business analyst has a lot of small things to do that don’t benefit separately but in a set. So, everyday I try to find and learn how I can make these things easier. For instance, it’s helpful when all your requirements are linked to each other, and you understand their connections. However, it’s a daunting task, and nobody likes doing that. So, I came up with the idea of replacing links with a certain hierarchical structure of the requirements. Since I use this, it looks well organized and linked, and without additional time to maintain that.
What tools do you use at work? Which ones are you simply unable to work without?
Fortunately, there are a lot of tools for requirements modeling and specification. I fell in love with Confluence. It’s a great and helpful tool for Documentation. It is Confluence that allows me to create the requirements structure I mentioned above. Furthermore, it’s also easy to log changes there and keep all requirements up to date, as well as find any version of them. You can keep not only requirements but all Business analysis information there and effortlessly search for it. In my experience, Confluence saves me approximately 20% of the time required to specify and maintain requirements and other related information. Talking about a tool that I cannot work without, I would call any program for modeling where a Business analyst creates different diagrams to dive into the topic and maybe then discuss with stakeholders and the team. Personally, I prefer draw.io. Also, it might be Microsoft Visio, Lucidchart, Mural, Figma Jim, Bizagi, or Camunda for the process modeling.
What are the challenges of BA work?
In my eyes, the main challenge is a new domain, especially if it doesn’t connect to everyday life. I mean, when you face a project in retail, traveling or so, you roughly understand it from the customer’s perspective, as you are a customer. It makes it easy to dive into the internal flows and get new information to succeed in the project. However, such domains as biotechnology, Small nuclear power and others are a real challenge for a Business analyst. Not only do you need to get the idea of the product, but you also need to educate yourself in such complex disciplines in a short time. Besides that, I would mention challenges with stakeholders. In other words, from project to project, they vary tremendously, and you need to find a key to each of them, regardless of whether they have time for you and what style of communication they demonstrate.
The business/supervisor comes with a problem. What happens next? How do you envision the ideal BA working environment?
Firstly, a Business analyst should investigate the problem and its root causes. Then, come up with a few ideas to resolve it. Here other roles, such as Architect, Designer, any specialist in innovation, get involved. As soon as we have options for a solution, a presentation for the business is supposed to be conducted, and the best one should be chosen. Next, a Business analyst starts working on functional decomposition, scope definition and requirements. For me, the ideal work environment is when everyone in a team understands the importance of the stage of Business Analysis and enables this work, allocating enough time for the holistic approach.
Does every organization need a BA?
You know, the fact that division of labor is very beneficial was recognized a long time ago. At the same time, each business and its management are free to draw their own conclusions about what is efficient for them. In my view, if a business role or business person is an end user of a product under development and the developers themselves are coworkers, I mean, they work in one company and see each other every day, they can work without a Business analyst, but it will take fewer iterations and a longer time to have the implemented feature or product. But it might work. On the other hand, when such a company is large enough and has many projects and a large IT or Product development department, it’s ineffective to work without a business analyst. Not saying about companies that provide a development service for others.
What’s more, you know that Business analysis experiences a process of dividing into more narrow and specific professions, such as Product owner and Product manager. It proves the need to have specific roles, not a person who does everything but little. At ELEKS, the BAs role is valued and appreciated for its contribution to the business. Our consistent demonstration of effective business analysis practices, and commitment to evolving best practices and standards, has recently been recognized with Business Analysis Advancement Award by IIBA.
Our division was also involved in the development of The Business Analysis Standard by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). Taras Zakharkiv, Head of the Business Analysis Office at ELEKS and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, IIBA Ukraine Chapter, is among IIBA’s corporate members who provided valuable input into the publication. If to sum up, the necessity of a BA’s role in the company is very beneficial for the business and makes work on projects much more profound and comprehensive.
What if a company doesn’t have a Business Analysis person?
Regardless of whether a company has a Business Analysis or not, someone should perform this role, as the goal and requirements for a product are needed anyway. Usually, this role might be taken by someone from the business side, for example, the best specialist in a certain department that needs a product. What’s more, it might be taken by a developer, a quality assurance specialist, or someone else.
IIs it the BA’s role to constantly make changes in order to fix the company?
Without a doubt. A Business Analyst enables a change. They elicit a need or problem and then define the strategy to implement the change, they also care of a team completely understands it. Then, Quality assurance helps to guarantee that the product covers all acceptance criteria. As well as a Project manager organizes the change is implemented.
What is the future of the profession? Is Business Analysis a profession of the future?
I guess the role of Business analysis will grow as the number of products constantly increases and technologies are being advanced endlessly. The more complex a product is, the more information we need before development starts. As far as the specificity or domain of Business analysis goes, I see the next spheres getting more and more relevant: Fintech, Data and Analytics Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Automation and Robotics. On top of that, it won’t be enough just to identify the needs of a client and turn their wishes into requirements for a product. More and more clients want BAs to conduct a deep analysis of what is wrong, what might be optimized, and how it might be different and more efficient. So, BAs will require a business perspective; think like Business Top manager or CEO. In other words, BAs need to broaden their horizons and learn to think strategically.
What will remain constant in BA’s work?
I believe that the main activities will remain constant. I mean, to understand the Business need and its core context; Product strategy and planning and presenting it to a team; requirements specification; and responsibility to manage and satisfy the client’s expectations. What’s more, it’s communication, collaboration and negotiation skills, as people need people to come up with the genial solutions. The need for critical thinking and the ability to adapt will benefit business analysis, a product and team forever as well.
Olena Myslitskaya. Business Analyst at ELEKS. She is holding the CBAP (Certified Business Analyst Professional) designation, and boasting a decade of experience in digital solutions. Her expertise spans from ERP and process automation to developing web and mobile applications across diverse business domains. Starting as a trainee, she has risen through the ranks to become the leader of the Business Analysis team. Olena values creativity, continuous self-development, and collaboration with others, all of which contribute to honing her Business Analysis skills for successful product implementations. Outside of her professional pursuits, she is an avid hiker and traveler.
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