Managing Business Analysts for Success: 4 Questions to Ask and Answer

Author: Adriana Beal

Too often, IT management doesn’t address the key issues that may cause talented business analysts to become far less effective than they might otherwise be. IT managers should consider part of their responsibility to ensure that the BAs in their organization are being managed for success, creating the right environment for these professionals to produce their best results as they work to solve business problems with technology. Here are four questions that IT managers should be constantly asking themselves to help ensure that their business analysts are receiving the management support they need to succeed.

1. Are the BAs being involved early enough in the projects?

Typically, to produce top quality work, the business analyst will have to spend time understanding the multiple dimensions of the business need, discussing with stakeholders the overall goals and objectives, thinking about the IT impact on the company, working with different departments to identify any business or technical issues, and so on.

Waiting to involve a BA in a project only when the requirements need to be refined and documented (after the project assumptions and scope have been established) limits the value an experienced analyst can add to a project, and may result in oversights that can be very costly to reverse or repair later in the project. It’s the IT management responsibility to ensure that the BA involvement happens in a timely fashion, generally as a member of the team performing the preliminary work, to minimize the project risks.

2. Does the organization provide sufficient management support for the BA role?

To be able to add value to an IT project, the business analyst must have an appropriate level of exposure to the right people in the organization. IT managers should help ensure that the BA role is taken seriously, and facilitate BA access to the key groups who will utilize the results of the project.

Once the requirements have been approved, in order to continue to add value to the project, the analyst needs an adequate level of interaction with the technical team implementing the solution. Particularly in projects of higher complexity and longer duration, the technical team may become tempted to skip analysis when facing some unanticipated challenge as they try to meet a project deadline. The analytical thinking and problem-solving skills of a BA can be a valuable asset during these circumstances, but in many cases, the intervention of an IT manager will be required to ensure that the analyst remains involved while the solution is being built.

3. Are the business analysts being protected from abuses in positional power?

The business analyst should be seen as part of a business-driven solution provision, rather than a lackey of the technology or business side. If a BA is left in a position to be strong-armed into defending the technical team when there’s a dispute with the business side, the organization runs the serious risk of implementing an IT solution that is flawed or flat out unsuitable for the business needs. A business analyst that is empowered to act focusing on the accomplishment of organizational goals is in a much better position to help the IT management select an optimal approach. In many circumstances, it is advisable to have BAs report into a business improvement area instead of into one of the competing parties, to avoid subjecting them to political maneuvering that doesn’t serve the company’s interests.

4. Is the business analyst role being treated as a specialized role?

In many organizations, the business analyst role is assigned to an individual playing another role, such as project manager or tech lead. While this approach may work well on small projects, if a project requires a reasonable amount of typical business analysis work (e.g., studying and synthesizing information provided by a large number of people, uncovering the actual needs of stakeholders behind their expressed desires, documenting complex functional requirements, etc.), a dual role will bring unnecessary challenges to the project, often generating conflicting responsibilities and uneven results due to the distinct skill sets required by the differing roles. IT managers should pay close attention to the situations in which business analysis work is assigned to an individual with other responsibilities in a project, taking into account the reality that combining roles is likely to result in loss of quality.

. . . .

In order to gain the full benefits of a business analysis practice, IT management must develop a clear understanding of the BA role and the type of management support its practitioners need to succeed in the corporate environment. By providing the right leadership, and maintaining a good working environment for business analysts, IT managers can help retain their best-in-class BA talent and avoid expensive mistakes such as building a solution that doesn’t meet the business needs. If answered truthfully, the 4 questions presented in this article can become an excellent indicator of the organization’s current capacity to lead its business analysts to top performance.

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  1. Hi, Murthy,

    You probably wrote this comment in the wrong page, as I’m the author of this post, and not Laura. My advice to you is to explore this website. There are plenty of resources here for people with experience interested in transitioning into a BA position.

    To help you narrow down the resources that can assist you most, you can also use this recommender that I created for people like you. Answer a few questions to get customized recommendations:

    Good luck in your career transition!

  2. Hi Laura:
    I have about 30 years of finance, accounting and banking experience with masters in commerce, diploma in computer sciences and exposure to ERPs. As a financial analyst and with an average of communication skills how would I be able to get along in the BA job. I am interested in working as a BA but has the fear about how am I going to streamline my knowledge and skills as a BA using the required BA skills and techniques.

  3. Hi, Mohammed,

    I just noticed that the link to the book recommendation page has changed — you can find them here:

  4. I’m studying analysis, I hop to get a copy of book, thanks.
    Best regards

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