“No. We don’t have a Business Analyst, with budgets as they are, we can’t afford one.”
If I had a pound for every time, I hear something like this, I could buy EVERYONE a Business Analyst!!
What can’t you afford? A requirement gathering guru? A risk management master? A quality assurance authority? A change management and adaptability artist? A communication connoisseur? A cost controlling crackerjack? All rolled into one superstar!?
Given that budgets are tight, I’d suggest IT Projects can’t afford not to have a Business Analyst!
When we say budgets are tight, it’s sometimes an objective truth but often what we mean is that a greater return on investment (ROI) is expected for every penny spent. Paradoxically, these are both worlds apart and the same thing. They’re different in that, obviously, a multi-million-pound budget will buy you more than a hundred-grand project budget, and they’re the same because if your sponsor wants maximum possible ROI with no wastage, neither project can afford to misspend a penny!
In the current climate, where the pressure on ROI is greater than I have ever seen it, there is usually little or no room for error. Having someone on the team with a keen eye on the business impact side of things can pay dividends. That’s the BA you said you couldn’t afford.
Stay with me for the Top Ten Ways Having A BA Adds Up, but first let’s address affordability.
Adding to headcount may not be top of your ‘stuff to do’ list right now, and thanks to Stoneseed’s as a Service portfolio you don’t have to! Whether it is production of a business case for an IT Project, requirements gathering or data analysis to help with project implementation, we can supply BA expertise and resources via BAaaS (Business Analysis as a Service).
Stoneseed’s BA team are experienced across multiple technology solutions, sectors and industries and we work with all types of projects and programmes such as Business Change, Transformation, Infrastructure, Digital or IT Project Delivery. BAaaS is part of Stoneseed’s PMaaS (Project Management as a Service) portfolio, and just like the rest of this offer, BAaaS can be tailored to your specific requirements.
So, you are right to be reluctant to commit to a full-time hire or contractors, I get it, it’s perfectly OK to be wary of increased costs! BAaaS is an on-demand resource model which allows you to dial up and down in sync with your delivery needs, giving you more control over your costs, not less. You can align BAaaS resources as and when you need them, on a cost effective, full-time, or part-time basis.
THE TOP TEN WAYS HAVING A BA ADDS UP
1 – Requirements Gathering and Management
BAs are experts at gathering and then managing project requirements. In my experience, in IT projects without a BA, there’s a higher risk of incomplete, ambiguous, or constantly changing requirements, often leading to project scope creep, delays and bloated budgets.
In one project team, their BA is affectionately known as the “Anti-Man-From-Del-Monte”. Perhaps you remember the man from Del Monte ads, the guy walking through the orange grove saying “yes” to the rapture of the fruit growers. This BA was the opposite! Anything that didn’t fit the identified business requirements got a blunt “no”! It leads to confrontation, but you’re never going to win a business case argument with the guy whose data underpins the whole mission!
Which brings us nicely onto …
2 – Business Goals Alignment
BAs are skilled in ensuring that the IT project aligns with its organisation’s strategic objectives.
Without proper attention to such alignment, a project may not deliver the expected business value, resulting in a diminished ROI.
It’s surprising how many IT Projects are still green lit without serious consideration as to how well the outcome will match actual business need. In our current economic climate, business alignment is critical for IT Project decision makers, there is an ever-decreasing margin for error in this area.
3 – Risk Mitigation
BAs identify and, moreover, mitigate risks early in the project lifecycle, limiting costly problems and disruptions later.
By analysing processes, identifying weaknesses, forecasting trends, clarifying project objectives, and conducting cost-benefit analyses, project decision makers can make informed and financially prudent choices that ripple through the project’s lifecycle.
4 – Effective Communication
Think of an BA as a communication bridge between business stakeholders, project managers, and technical teams. In my experience, your BA is the person that speaks everyone else’s language so they often act as translator. For example, your tech team will probably talk in tech terms and the business stakeholders in business terms – you need someone in the middle to interpret.
Projects with a BA often suffer less miscommunication and fewer misunderstandings, mitigating confusion and project delays.
5 – Cost Control
BAs help optimise expenditure by ensuring that requirements are well-defined, identifying cost-effective solutions to business needs, rigorous analysis, efficient resource allocation, and careful evaluation of financial decisions.
As I said at the start, a BA is “a cost controlling crackerjack”!!! Many of the leanest and cost-efficient projects of our current times owe this to having an effective BA.
6 – Quality Assurance
This BA benefit is regularly overlooked. Some of the best BAs help define success metrics, quality acceptance criteria, and they conduct testing to ensure that the delivered solution meets business requirements and quality standards.
A BA friend who, isn’t shy about extolling this virtue, tells me that he is the facilitator of the effective communication that creates transparency and ensures excellence, both in output (product and deliverables) and process.
7 – Change Management
Again, this vital trait of an effective BA is often missing from the ‘sales pitch’, even BAs don’t shout loudly enough about the value they bring to the process of business change.
BAs can help manage the impact of change on an organisation, ensuring that changes align with business objectives, maximising stakeholder and end user buy-in, and that changes are implemented efficiently.
8 – Stakeholder Satisfaction
There are few better placed in a project team than a BA at managing stakeholder expectations and therefore driving satisfaction. At their core, arguably, the BA is there to make sure that the project delivers what was promised – nothing drives stakeholder satisfaction more than a project doing what it set out to! I remember Alli, a brilliant BA and passionate advocate for the role, explaining that this was because the BA was the “most trusted member of the team, the perception is we simultaneously have no skin and both feet in the game. If something goes wrong, a PM might come up with a stakeholder pleasing bit of spin, the BA, with nothing to lose will tell it like is!”
There might be something in this, more so though, I think that the BA feels like everyone’s representative in the process (again because they speak everyone’s language).
9 – Support For That Decision
When you have a make-or-break decision (when isnt a decision make or break these days – right?), you want the best information to support your critical thinking. The best BAs will give you analytical data in spades but also draw upon experience to colour in the grey areas. If you were to create a Venn diagram of empirical and analytical data, your BA would be sat in the intersection of the circles.
BAs provide data-driven insights that support informed decision making, to the point that at least one CIO and his project leadership team that I know never make any key decisions without the benefit of their Business Analyst’s input, from project prioritisation to resource allocation. This BA holds more sway over the organisation’s strategic thinking than even the CEO of the company!
10 – Major Contribution To Project Success
Ultimately, the greatest benefit that a BA can bring is their significant contribution to project success! ROI is amplified by ensuring that real business needs are identified and met by the project. Projects with an effective BA stay within budget, get delivered on time, and are more likely to meet stakeholders’ expectations.
Often, a BA will also cause a raising of those stakeholder expectations, driving standards and success metrics higher and higher. One CIO told me that their pre-BA idea of success was “on time and on budget” but post-BA this wasn’t enough. He cited data-driven intelligence, through business analysis, as the cornerstone of their new metric for success – measurable delivery of business need.
A Business Analyst might seem like an additional cost, in reality though, a BA is a wise strategic investment that can significantly enhance the efficiency and profitability of your IT Projects.
A great business analyst is, I believe, critical to the value delivered by the most successful projects, this is certainly true of those I’ve had the privilege of being part of recently. Communication, leadership, day-to-day decision making, and customer engagement are all improved by a BA. Admittedly, these traits can be absorbed into other roles, but most project teams who previously did this and then employ a BA – don’t go back! The value of having a critical bridge between business objectives and implementation is just too great to lose.
And remember, thanks to Stoneseed’s BAaaS (Business Analysis as a Service), you can get all this now, without spending time recruiting, hiring and onboarding additional staff or the potential inherent costs that can come with contractors.
Clients tell us that their ‘as a Service’ BA identifies inefficiencies in processes, streamlines operations, enhances productivity and, ultimately, saves valuable time and resources. BAs help you make informed decisions, avoid costly mistakes and ensure better ROI by helping you direct your investments of time, resources and budget toward the high-impact, high-yield initiatives.
To find out how a Business Analyst can deliver more BAng for your buck, call (01623 723910) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.