IT Business Analysis Is Primarily a Communications Problem
The business community faces challenges. Amidst a storm of changing competitor offers, customer desires, and unstable regulations, the organization strives for constantly improved performance. Workflows that do not meet the immediate need are circumvented. Data that is too cumbersome to capture is neglected. Applications that are overly complex are ignored. First and foremost, the customer has to be serviced or the organization will fail — short- or long-term. Information technology (IT) strives to keep abreast of the business community’s needs. To that end, new technologies are tried, methodologies change, and developer strive to survive in a seemingly chaotic environment. Making sure that the IT department truly understands the needs of the business community is the job of the business analyst.
IT Business Analysis Needs to Support the Business Community
Fundamentally, the main responsibility of any business analyst is to ensure that the business community solves business problems — whether or not information technology is involved. Due to the ubiquitous nature of IT, however, IT business analysts in most organizations focus on finding IT solutions to business problems.
There are competing philosophies on how to fulfill that obligation:
- One school of thought says business analysts have to know the business area they are supporting.
- Another says they have to understand the IT solutions that support the business and
- a third says they need to understand both.
Three Levels of IT Business Analysis
To compare these philosophies, we have to throw in one of our own. We believe that there are three levels within an organization at which IT business analysis needs to be done. We distinguish between Strategic Business Analysis (enterprise-level), Tactical Business Analysis (project-level), and Operational Business Analysis (application-level). Based on that, strategic business analysis requires a high level of business area knowledge, operational business analysis requires much more IT know-how, and tactical business analysis really needs quite a bit of both. Ergo, we believe that the correct philosophy depends on your role. Furthermore, we accept that IT business analysis is not only done by business analysts, but anyone in the organization may at some point wear the business analyst hat. Regardless of their background, whoever is filling any IT business analysis role has to understand the tools and techniques of business analysis as they apply to their level of IT business analysis. Those tools and techniques can easily be mastered by anyone from either the business area or the related IT systems.
The Evolution of Business Analysis
We at BA-EXPERTS understand the world of IT business analysis; we practically invented it. O.K, there were a few thousand others involved, but we were there at the beginning. We watched as the role of IT systems analyst grew farther and farther apart from the world of technology and closer to the business world. We helped hundreds of organizations make the transition from allowing the technology to dictate workflow to allowing the business community to find the optimal workflow that IT could support. We trained both IT professionals and business professionals in the tools of the evolving discipline of business analysis. Our courseware is not theoretical; is written in the sweat and tears of our customers, organizations making a difference in their individual branches. From nuclear energy to construction engineering, from medical through pharmaceuticals to insurances, we have helped customers in nearly every industry improve their bottom line by improving the communication between the business community and IT. We truly believe that business analysts’ primary job is to keep their organizations alive through thick and thin by making sure that the business community and their IT solutions co-exist peacefully (at least within the realm of the possible). We are business analysts — heart and soul.