A BA has a set of main responsibilities that can be considered the backbone for the tasks they will fulfill in their role.
- Clarifying a business idea. A business analyst should clarify the primary purposes of the future product. Also, a BA sets up the primary product benchmarks, such as customer acquisition strategy and value proposition, and helps decide on basic product KPIs. Then, they evaluate the most relevant means of implementation, which will be the most convenient for both stakeholders and developers.
- Planning development activities. When primary business requirements are already established, it’s necessary to shape the development direction and allocate the areas of responsibilities. At this point, product development workshops with the participation of stakeholders serve as an efficient development tool.
- Validating requirements. When approving the drafted documentation with business requirements included, the BA assures compliance of the development outcomes with a customer’s business goals. With both sides on the same page, everything goes in the right direction.
- Standardizing the software development process. One of the main BA responsibilities is to assure that the single workflow with promised requirements is applied. When the product is being developed, a BA gets feedback from stakeholders and ensures product improvements according to the obtained data.
Business Analyst’s Skillset
- Analytical thinker. A business analyst has to have an analytical mind. this is one of the most important skills for BAs. A product BA can be considered an expert when they understand difficulties or issues, visualize them, analyze them, and then resolve them. This also includes proficient research skills, logical thinking, and presentation skills. A strong background with different analytical techniques including Interface Analysis, Feasibility Analysis, and SWOT(Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis is required.
- Decision-maker. The business analyst role often requires making decisions. Being a middleman between stakeholders and an engineering team, BAs are supposed to make sound judgments in varied business subjects. Any of these can define the sustainability of a business. Decision-making skills allow a BA to assess a situation, including risks and benefits, receive feedback from stakeholders, and select a course of action.
- Problem-solver. For a business analyst, each customer comes with a different problem or issue to be resolved quickly and for the longterm. So, a business analyst’s responsibility is to study the problem, analyze the available options, and then suggest the best choice. They must be able to observe a problem from different angles within the business, including a target user and that of a technical expert. In such circumstances, an ability to work in a collaborative environment with an ongoing discussion with developers is obligatory. This is where technically viable solutions are discovered.
- Documentation and visualization master. The business analyst role presumes making presentations to both stakeholders and developers. To do that properly, a good BA should provide consistent requirements documentation. Along with that, building wireframes is a crucial part of a BA’s activity. Although it’s not about strong UX design skills, schematic sketching and knowledge of tools Unifying Modeling Language are compelling, necessary attributes.
Business Analyst’s process and responsibilities
At different development stages, interaction between a BA and stakeholders, pointing out the level of involvement and degree of influence over product development.
- Elaboration phase
The elaboration phase is the first step towards bringing a new product (feature, module, you name it) to market. It’s needed to dig around and roughly estimate the volume of future efforts. This is the very first stage of communication with the (prospect) customer. Here, a business analyst, in tight collaboration with a solution architect and a UX researcher, studies all the market potential of the product and methods to realize it.
- Researching business problems.
When assessing the business model, the BA figures out the business owner’s main points of pain (such as low-level customer acquisition or irrelevant digitalization) or what market gap they try to fill in or expand. These concerns will later be reflected in business requirements and initial technical offer.
- Deciding on the expected business value. Understanding the product’s course and the expected market niche usually contributes to the primary wireframes. These are visualized concepts of how the system elements will interact with each other. This activity also includes establishing the method of interaction between a future product and its target audience, as well as its monetization.
- Drafting nonfunctional requirements. This scope of responsibility involves the description of how the system is supposed to behave. Also, it establishes the constraints of its functionality. When drafting this type of documentation, a business analyst includes the system’s quality attributes, such as usability, security, reliability, performance, availability, and scalability.
- Preparing functional requirements. A business analyst is also responsible for documenting functional requirements. These are the product features that engineers implement to allow users to achieve their goals. Hence, a BA’s role is documenting it clearly for both developers and stakeholders.
- Formulating the main backlog. By this time, the general outline of the project is already in. It constitutes a good basis for a common backlog with an instructive to-do list. A business analyst ensures that all business aspects discussed earlier are reflected.
Solution Design phase
This stage represents the phase during which the future product team has already undertaken a significant amount of raw research from different aspects. Primary decisions are already made, business requirements are evaluated and approved, and there’s only one thing to do before the development starts – find and approve the most suitable tech stack that meets all business and system requirements. Here, the BA plays a significant role, while comparing the overall scope with the promised business value.
- Story mapping. This is arguably one of the most important BA’s responsibilities. Basically, a user story is a description of a feature from the end-user’s point of view. They are usually created within the functional requirements after software specification document and use cases are compiled. The process of story mapping usually involves several decision-makers, such as product/project manager, stakeholders, UX designers, and representatives of the development team. But it is the BA who ensures that a supposed user flow matches the approved business value.
- Establishing acceptance criteria. This is no less important than user stories compilation. Acceptance criteria are the conditions that determine whether a feature satisfies both a stakeholder and the end-user. As in the case of user stories shaping, a BA shares this responsibility with a product manager. A QA engineer also participates but to a lesser extent.
- Prioritizing backlog items. This is one of the most important areas of a BA’s responsibility. Upon choosing one a prioritization techniques, a business analyst helps realize which cluster of tasks is more important or relevant from the business point of view.
This is the phase where active software development begins. The product team completes the tasks according to allocated roles. Here, the business analyst’s role is assuring that the development falls in line with the discussed and approved business values and requirements.
- Setting up preparation activities. The business analyst shadows the entire pre-development process to guarantee that every sprint is planned in accordance with approved requirements and goals. Participation in such activities as pre-planning and grooming is an evitable part of a BA’s responsibility.
- Tracking the development process. Although the BA doesn’t interact with developers directly, their daily routine includes the participation in daily Scrum and Standup meetings. Here, the BA watches the development process to address and accomplish all business requirements.
This is the final stage of the development process. It’s usually considered the phase of improvements or necessary changes. The BA’s responsibilities for this period include gathering the feedback from the customer on the result. They usually compare the outcome with supposed business value, deciding the opportunities for improvements.
- Gathering and processing feedback from customer and users. As often happens on releasing a product, there are still some improvements to be made. One of the BA’s responsibilities is revealing the strengths and weaknesses of the finished product from a business point of view.
- Formulating the next backlog. Based on gathered feedback, the BA shapes the volume of business issues to improve, change, complete, or remove. This is how the backlog for a new development round appears
a maintained and improved business software product
Business Analyst’s everyday tools
In their everyday activity, business analysts combine many responsibilities and tasks. Hence, mastering of work-simplifying tools is critical.
- Project management tools As a BA’s activity often includes a project manager’s scope of work, the associate software also comes in handy. The most complex, and therefore, the most popular are Atlassian’s Jira, Trello, and Asana, and the like. Each of them allows forming a big backlog, planning a sprint, allocating tasks for every team member, and even setting time limits.
- Documentation tools. Since a BA’s job is hardly possible without compiling a variety of documentation, the relevant tooling shows up on a daily basis. Usually, it’s a wiki-like collaboration software that allows all participants to create and collectively edit “pages” or entries via a web browser. For instance, Confluence, a product from Atlassian, or DokuWiki are among the most popular.
- Modeling tools. As we’ve already mentioned, building wireframes is one of the core responsibilities, among others. So, in addition to the system approach and the knowledge of Unifying Modeling Language, handling diagram software is mandatory. This type of tools enables BAs to simplify the building of system wireframes, flow and organizational charts, process and network diagrams. These include draw.io, Lucidchart, and Microsoft Visio, to name a few.