It’s not just about the software

On about my third big project as a business analyst, I remember sighing a big sigh when starting to draft yet another use case for logging into the system. A piece of work that was once new and interesting became, well, rather boring and redundant.

Starburst-lightBecause our organization was building and rebuilding our systems from scratch, I needed to ensure that each and every software function was covered in my functional requirements spec and then again in my use cases. It was a lot of work, and it didn’t leave me time for much else, like understanding our customers better, supporting business process changes, and constantly re-evaluating the business case for the project.

In many organizations today, business analysts find themselves in very different situations. More typically, a large project involves implementing a commercial-off-the-shelf system. That means a lot of standard functionality, like logging in, is already defined.

As a result, your work as a business analyst shifts. It’s not just about the software.

Let’s take a collective sigh of relief, shall we?

(I’ll wait.)

While we’ve always been in the middle of solving bigger business problems, we’re now at the point where we might actually have the time and attention to do it right.

  • If it’s not just about the software, I can focus on business problems, business processes, and business results.
  • If it’s not just about the software, perhaps I instill more creativity into the software features we do need to build from scratch or customize heavily, using wireframes, prototypes, or mock-ups.
  • If it’s not just about the software, perhaps I can invest time in understanding my organization’s data, making sure the data migration plan meets stakeholder expectations, and looking at the long-term implications of our information model.
  • If it’s not just about the software, perhaps I can participate in the business case for the project and keep it updated throughout the project lifecycle (thanks Kitty Hass for reinforcing the importance of this one!).
  • If it’s not just about the software, perhaps I can find the time to sit side-by-side with end users to gain a deeper appreciation of their true struggles and concerns or experiment with any one of a number of elicitation techniques.

If it’s not just about the software, what would you do as a business analyst?

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Comments

  1. If it’s not just about the software, I find time to make it easier for business to understand, accept and start using the current change
    If it’s not just about the software, I find time to make it easier for business to document their own requirements (up/down delegating)
    If it’s not just about the software, I find time to see how the current boring change can become part of an improved checklist, that will reduce my documentation work in future
    If it’s not just about the software, I can document where the current piece fits into the bigger picture of the entire people/software landscape inside/outside the business
    If it’s not just about the software, I can participate in managing the project, detecting bottlenecks, and easing the process of managing the process
    If it’s not just about the software, I find time to ensure the end to end process is still valid and would still work with the current piece being added

  2. Colin Contessa says

    If it’s not just about the software, I find time to get beside upper level managers and directors to get insight into business strategy and contribute to enterprise analysis discussions.

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