Business Analyst in Software Development: Why Do You Need It
Data is everything in today's world. Corporations use it to optimize all business processes, gain advantages over competitors, and improve products most efficiently. Without high-quality data analysis, which helps to adjust business operations and increase productivity, it is simply impossible to develop a business today.
Business analysis in software development is considered a relatively new but already indispensable industry. According to Statista, the business intelligence and analytics software market will reach $18 billion in 2025. Organizations need high-quality analytics, and the corresponding growth in demand for appropriate corporate software confirms this.
However, BA is not just data analysis. It is about finding ways to improve business viability, decision making, emergency problem solving and continuous improvement of own skills.
In this article, we will discuss all the requirements of business analysis, consider the areas of responsibility and learning of business analysts, as well as determine what specific advantages BA gives and when it is worth hiring such a person.
Who Is a Business Analyst in Software Development?
The main role of a business analyst in development is the assessment of business data to improve the effectiveness of business decisions. Such specialists create a connection between stakeholders, customers, management, etc., for the translation of ideas, solutions implementation and requirements control.
Why is this so essential? This approach allows you to maximize profits and make the development process as efficient as possible. In addition, business analysts are change managers. They are the ones who assess changes' impact, create forecasts and help businesses correctly perceive changes and use them to their own advantage.
Also, business analysts always have a backup plan, a complete overview of the entire organization and a system for implementing practical solutions for any situation. These professionals create coordination centers and quickly transform business requirements into action plans. They are key participants in the testing and maintenance process.
BA’s Role And Skillset
The role and skills of a business analyst can sometimes differ depending on the product's specific details. As in any other profession, such specialists must adapt their skills to the responsibilities and goals. However, a set of universal BA roles and related skills are needed everywhere.
Let's talk about the software business analyst's main tasks.
- Working on business ideas. Not all business leaders can clearly formulate a business idea and the requirements associated with it. A business analyst's work consists of clarifying the product's goals, designing sales strategies, establishing KPI indicators (business growth and expansion rates), determining the value, and finding the optimal way to implement the business idea based on all this.
- Development planning. After forming business ideas, requirements and goals, BA communicates with stakeholders to determine a specific direction of development, plan the work process, and create a production strategy and product roadmap. Here, the main task is to distribute areas of responsibility so that all process participants can make the most of their skills and opportunities and perform functions at the highest level.
- Development standardization and requirements verification. The business analyst monitors the implementation of norms and the use of a unified work process. This way, different teams adhere to a single development strategy and methodology, and development results correspond to business goals. Also, BA supports communication with stakeholders, analyzes their feedback and adjusts requirements to this data.
- Compliance monitoring and continuous analysis. Throughout the development process, BA analyzes feedback from users, teams, and stakeholders and constantly monitors that the results of each sprint meet business expectations.
So, a business analyst is a person who maintains communication with management and developers to create a unified strategy and path of development, validation and control of compliance with requirements, as well as compliance of results with business goals.
Now let's talk about the skills that a perfect BA should possess.
Since the profession is called a business analyst, the primary skill is the ability to think analytically. Such a person knows how to identify difficulties and challenges quickly, analyze them, find solutions and, in fact, solve them.
BA must have experience in SWOT analysis, cost-benefit/stakeholder feedback/business structure/etc. Analysis. Also, the analytical group of skills includes data visualization, business process modeling and transparent reporting.
BA job involves basic coding skills, a clear understanding of different frameworks and some other IT skills depending on the project. It is also essential to know how to collect, process and store data, i.e., work with databases.
The work of a software business analyst is largely based on communication because he/she must promptly receive all feedback and important information from management and various departments. Accordingly, such a person must be able to communicate effectively orally and in writing and have excellent organizational and interpersonal skills. Not to mention that BAs often establish interdepartmental communication.
These skills are mainly based on analytical skills. A good BA knows how to use the analyzed data to make reasonable optimal decisions regarding all components of business processes. This person determines the stability and sustainability of a business, uses knowledge about risks, benefits, and ideas, and helps choose the right course of development.
Solutions Making and Problem Solving
As already mentioned above, the business analyst must quickly identify the problem and find its solution. Professional BAs understand clients' difficulties perfectly and find ways to solve them, long-term or short-term. After studying the issue from different points of view and analyzing several options, they offer the optimal solution – technically viable and financially profitable.
Documentation and Presentations
Business analysts create consistent and clear documentation to meet all requirements. They are also involved in presenting data to stakeholders and senior management. Therefore, they need to be able to work with visualization tools and the Unifying Modeling Language.
Good BAs evolve their skills along with the evolution of development, analysis tools, and scope of work. Therefore, the skill list can be removed and supplemented with new urgent requirements.
Business Analyst’s Process: Steps and Responsibilities
Business analysts' responsibilities may differ depending on the development phase, the level of involvement and the desired degree of influence on the process.
Step 1. Research and Elaboration
This step is similar to the software product discovery phase, where research must be conducted before starting work on the development and bringing the product/feature to market. BA collaborates with the solution architect, UX designer and marketers at this stage. The phase consists of the following actions:
- Business needs and problems research, assessment of its economic potential. BA is responsible for communicating with the owner, identifying the main business problems, and transforming them into business requirements and an initial technical proposal.
- Determining the business expected value and the target audience's needs. Here, the business analyst determines the product's market niche, studies its features more deeply and determines the course of development. In this way, he/she can visualize elements/product and end-user interaction(user journey, etc.) and determine the business's monetization in the future.
- Requirements (non-functional and functional) preparation. The business analyst documents security, performance, availability, usability requirements, and a list of features to implement.
After completing the general outline of the project, the business analyst forms the main backlog to save data on all considered business aspects.
Step 2. Solution Design
After the research, analysis, approval of business requirements and development direction, it’s time to design practical solutions.
This step involves finding the optimal technology stack and approving it. Here, a business analyst, in cooperation with UX designers and developers, is engaged in the user mapping process within the framework of functional requirements.
Designing clear acceptance criteria is another crucial part of business analysis services. Together with the product manager and the quality assurance engineer, the business analyst defines a list of such requirements to ensure an optimal result and maintain a clear path.
In addition, BA deals with the prioritization issue: it creates a roadmap, allocates tasks and areas of responsibility, and sets each task's priority level according to chosen prioritizing technique.
Step 3. Development
The role of the business analyst in the development process is to set up preparatory activities, namely the grouping of sprints with requirements and pre-planning. BA also monitors the development process and participates in Scrum and Standup, ensuring all business requirements are met and the teams follow the defined path.
Step 4. Maintenance
In the final stage of development, a business analytics service is still significant. BA collects customer and stakeholder feedback, analyzes data, compares results with business goals, and continuously looks for opportunities to improve and update the product.
All Time Responsibilities
During the entire process of working on the project, the business analysts perform many functions. First, they become an intermediary between teams, senior management and customers. BA supports communication and is responsible for ongoing reporting (financial reports, progress reports, data visualization, etc.).Second, an IT business analyst deals with adjusting requirements, planning, analysis, etc. A business analyst is also involved in budgeting, financial forecasting and pricing control.
Product Business Analyst, Market Analyst, UX Researcher And Data Analyst: Main Differences
These four personas work in the same area and all interact with data but perform different functions and have different areas of responsibility.
Product Business Analyst
The software development business analyst or product BA is a person who works with client requests and business assessments. He/she analyzes the business model, forms the future value of the product, and evaluates all business aspects. Based on such an analysis, BA designs requirements documentation for software development.
The software development BA must monitor compliance with all established business requirements throughout development. He/she communicates with the engineering team, responds to their requests and customer requests and creates reports. Only this way the business analyst can guarantee that the result will meet business value.
When to Hire a Product BA?
Even if you are well acquainted with all the processes that happen with your business, you can only outline your business model, goals and value. A professional analyst is needed precisely to clarify these concepts, define the product's requirements and its undeniable value. This, in turn, will help form an optimal budget and get a really profitable result.
As the name implies, a market analyst is dedicated to professional research of a specific market and the industry in general, creating alternative values and proposals. This person works on business model assessments from the market needs point of view, conducts competitor research, etc.
Market Analyst is responsible for quality market research and obtaining insights, correctly assessing the environment and competitors, searching for optimal monetization methods, etc. They are also responsible for marketing reporting, which allows developers to find new approaches to product creation and implement the most relevant features.
When to Hire a Market Analyst?
A market analyst is precious at the zero stage of development when you only have an idea but can't evaluate it in terms of viability. In this case, BA will help analyze the market, find the most significant customer interest points, and study competitors.
Read more about market research and the discovery stage in software development in our Outsourcing SaaS Development Guide.
UX researcher is a person who studies users' needs, conducts interviews with stakeholders, and creates maps of customer journeys taking into account potential users' wishes and behavior. In other words, such specialists are needed to form a special experience of using the product.
UX researchers actively study the target audience, behavioral characteristics and needs of users. It’s their responsibility to create an optimal user experience and a smooth user flow, considering all the insights gained in research.
When to Hire a UX Researcher?
Whenever you need to create a product that would meet the target audience's needs. Most often, such specialists are involved in the process at the stages of discovery and development.
A data analyst collects and interprets data to solve business problems, as well as transforms the collected information into reports.
The data analyst is responsible for
- Data collection: surveys, tracking the behavior and other characteristics of website visitors or product users, purchasing data from third parties, etc.
- Cleaning: the data analyst cleans the data from errors, duplicates, etc. in order to avoid distorting the analysis results.
- Interpretation: identifying trends, finding patterns in data, etc.
- Modeling: design of database structures, creation of such databases, etc.
The data analyst also visualizes the obtained results and presents them to stakeholders.
When to Hire a Data Analyst?
The services of a data analyst are useful at the discovery and maintenance stages. This person studies user behavior, explores the most popular patterns and helps to improve the product based on it. Also, such a specialist will not be superfluous if you work with cloud solutions, SaaS products, etc., or your product requires structured data storage. You can also hire a data analyst if you need to decide how to scale software development properly and smoothly.
Why a Business Analyst in a Team Means Savings
Why does a business analyst in a team mean savings? There are several answers to this question.
First of all, one of the main tasks of a business analyst is to ensure that the business requirements are clear and correct from the very beginning. It means that the team doesn’t spend time searching for the right path, developing features that don’t meet the requirements of the client and the target audience or doing additional work due to the definition of new development vectors. Thus, from the very first days of working in a team, a professional BA saves the money of the customer and stakeholders, as well as developers' efforts and time.
Secondly, software business analysis is about creating a clear plan, roadmap and defining strict quality criteria. This approach helps avoid spending time and money on correcting errors and ensures the realization of business benefits.
What else? There are several more reasons why BA’s services are your way to save.
- Easier digital transformation and successful scaling. A business analyst knows how to anticipate all the necessary steps for a successful business transformation, including a digital one. This means that all the necessary technologies will be implemented on time, and the company will not have to waste resources on complex and cumbersome system updates in the future.
- Broadcasting and explaining complex processes to every development participant help avoid critical mistakes. A business analyst is a person who transforms complex things into something more understandable and clear. Thus, each participant in the process knows their task and keeps abreast.
- BA is a “man with a plan”. The business analyst is ready for whatever unexpected changes the business could possibly face. Therefore, the company saves money and time in adaptation to new circumstances.
In other words, the superpower of a business analyst lies in the ability to use data correctly, notice things that other people can’t see, and predict the business's future. Therefore, this person can be your "court magician" who helps to save resources.
When Do You Need a Business Analyst?
A business analyst is a must if you have a business idea you don't know how to promote further. You also need such a specialist if you have a business problem that needs to be solved, but there are still no requirements and no structured details.
Also, companies hire BA when
- The effectiveness of teams decreases due to miscommunication. Sometimes this happens between different groups, developers and management, or clients and performers. The point is that business analysts solve the communication problem and create a transparent system of interaction, where the business idea, goal and task are communicated to everyone.
- A large technical debt has been accumulated. The most common reason for the accumulation of huge technical debt is the inability of the business to respond to changes and the failure to take measures in time. A business analyst helps deal with this issue by creating a plan to gradually reduce technical debt and improve the product. BA also finds ways to optimize each department's work, which helps significantly reduce technical debt.
- There is no clear business vision. Defining clear goals, benefits, value and prospects for the product is critical. If the company doesn’t have a business vision, development can drag on indefinitely, and the product itself will become a funnel that extracts funds and efforts. A business analyst forms a clear vision and a plan for achieving goals.
- Product development is chaotic and lacks structure. Actually, everything is plain and simple here. BAs will assess the market, analyze the received data and create a clear roadmap that each team will follow. They are also able to quickly respond to changes and make adjustments to the development system as needed.
The services of a business analyst will be helpful at every stage of development. During the discovery phase, BA conducts research and forms a business idea.
At the development stage, such a person transforms ideas into requirements and requirements into action. At the testing stage, BA monitors compliance with goals and requirements; and, during maintenance, determines new areas of development and improvement.
So, such a person is always needed when it’s necessary to bring order, cope with changes and maintain transparent communication.
How Can Ardas Help You With Business Analysis?
So, business analysis is about studying data, solving problems, finding ways to improve a product, improving its viability, etc., etc. Business analysts are people who turn abstract ideas into specific requirements and help create real value for the client.
We know how difficult it is to turn an idea into a real product and how much effort and resources are behind it. Therefore, business analysis is an integral part of our work. At the discovery development stage, our business analysts perform significant work: they study the market, competitors, and the entire ecosystem and process a huge amount of data so that the client gets guaranteed value.
We are happy to share our experience with customers because only in this way we can become one team interested in the product's success. Therefore, we will be pleased to consult you on business analysis services and recommend the best option for cooperation with BA. Feel free to contact us in any convenient way!