Is the Role of The Business Analyst Defined or Doomed?

by Donovan Grant on March 16, 2016

Is the Role of The Business Analyst Defined or Doomed?

Business Analysts are becoming a hybrid breed. If you’re a BA, you must have been at a networking session and when you’ve needed to deliver a snappy elevator speech in 15 words or less you’ve stuttered.

The challenge is not knowing what you do, the challenge is explaining it to someone else concisely before their eyes start to glaze over because they are mystified. Don’t worry BA’s, I can assure you that you are not alone.

In fact, I was reading a great post in one of the popular BA groups on LinkedIn this week and a similar question caught my eye:

“How do you see the Business Analyst role?”

Now, that may seem like a clear and concise question, however you wouldn’t believe the degree of activity it generated in the space of one short week.

This innocent question got a massive 396 Likes and 65 Comments and believe you me this was not like a mutual appreciation society. There were definitely divided opinions and I think, had this been a face to face discussion rather than virtual, there could have been a very high temperature meeting room!

It’s interesting that people were split into three major camps.

  1. Technical camp
  2. Spiritual camp
  3. Realists camp

Technical perspective of BA role

The technical camp were firmly rooted in what the day to day tasks were that a BA does. Some commenters dug deep and quoted from IIBA, while some were from the CBAP world.  You can probably hear these quotes ringing in the air now:

  • “A BA is a facilitator, investigator, problem solver and good Listener”
  • “Designing the solution or facilitating the design sessions”
  • “Identify the quick, medium and long term business solutions”

This is best summed up by the IIBA definition: “A BA is a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”

Spiritual perspective of BA role

The spiritual camp came from a warmer and more sensitive perspective when describing the BA role. They gave you the sense that a BA was more of an artist rather than a technician. They shared ideas that would not have been out of place in a touchy feely self-development book:

  • “The organization's problem solver”
  • “Understanding the business pain and recognising an opportunity
  • “Being the 'bridge' between the business and IT”
  • “BA is a way of thinking irrespective of your job title”

Realists perspective of BA role

Well, the third and final group are best described as the realists ones (whether it was intended or not). They gave you the view that they were there to get the job done regardless of the challenges and names they got called.

  • “An underrated resource with an unintuitive title”
  • “So much more than an errand boy/girl for the IT department”
  • “We do the As-Is's (what the heck the plural for As-Is?)”
  • “Faces off to all parties of the development lifecycle not just throwing requirements over the fence”

The Future of the BA role

What is important for us now is how we want the role to be in the future. One thing for sure is that the BA Role is evolving along with the responsibilities for this role. There is not a one size fits all business analyst; the discipline is broken up into many different variations these days to meet the requirements of the business.

So, are there simply three traditional BA types? A Business Consultant, Business Analyst and a Systems Analyst or is there a better way to embrace the evolution as the industry changes around us.

Whatever gets decided, the business require professional people with business knowledge, strategies, techniques and personal characteristics who can deliver effectively. (For more about the BA Talent test CLICK HERE).

One commenter summed it up straight from the heart, “We need to distinguish the real Business Analysis experts from anyone who can memorise the BABOK by heart, pass the exam but utterly fails in real life projects and I know and have worked closely with CBAPs who have not the slightest clue about what they are doing. They just memorize very well.”

I’m sure we all share this sentiment and the BA role is very much alive.

Let’s keep the BA standards high!

How do you define your role in 15 words? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as the Business community needs your voice too.

Don't forget to take the BA Talents Test: Click Here.

Donovan Grant is a Master Coach Trainer who helps Business Professionals in the Payments & IT industry to win in business and life. He is also the creator of the BA Talent assessment. Visit www.donovangrant.com for more interesting insights and training.

If you’re a BA who would like to get your talent score CLICK HERE to take the test.

AboutDonovangrantDonovan helps Business Professionals in IT and Payments to get to the core of critical issues so they achieve great results in business and life. Clients make changes to help position them as leaders so they can over-deliver and stand out in a crowd.

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