Developing industry-leading software takes so much more than a single idea. You need a team of professionals fulfilling all kinds of demanding roles to produce and deliver the product in a timely manner, test it properly, and adapt it to fit the needs of your audience. In the sea of experts you need for that software development life cycle to flourish, business analysts should be at the top of your priority list.
A typical life cycle of software development involves a wide array of different, often complementary roles and sectors that work together to deliver a user-friendly, competitive piece of software. In that intricate network of connections, the role of a business analyst is one of the most decisive ones to shape the success of each project. As a complex role that requires in-depth understanding of customer preferences and behavior, market fluctuations and trends, as well as your organization’s infrastructure, a business analyst can make or break your entire development life cycle.
Enabling proper cross-departmental collaboration through agile methodology, providing well-defined roles and expectations, and managing each individual’s role in the process is vital for your business success. Knowing precisely where your business analyst will be of key use can help you structure your strategy more efficiently and help you launch the end product in a more seamless manner.
Recognizing customer needs
Before the project even begins to unravel, a business analyst has to perform a critical task that will define the life cycle from start to finish: spend time getting to know your target customer and the current market tides shaping their needs.
By identifying and defining customers’ business needs, an analyst can then create a strategy. This strategy includes everything from defining project stakeholders, deliverables, risks, as well as the most appropriate methodology for the development to be completed successfully.
Defining project deliverables
The core of software development lies in defining project deliverables and assessing potential risks along the way – precisely where a business analyst should excel. There are even specialized IT courses for business analysts that tackle these core aspects of the profession. Such focus enables business analysts to develop these core skills before moving on to other, complementary skills necessary for the job.
In essence, a well-educated business analyst should be capable of researching and analyzing large amounts of market and customer data, based on which they’ll come up with realistic and manageable deliverables for your software development life cycle.
Time management and organization
A crucial aspect of any project, including software development, is time management. Without a thorough schedule to outline daily tasks and milestones, all the way to mid-term and long-term goals that will lead to the finished product, your team can lose direction, fail to deliver the project within the deadline, and ultimately fail to meet market needs and stick within budget requirements.
This is where the role of a business analyst coincides with that of a project manager: they are meant to define clear-cut deadlines and the scope of work that should be completed within any given time frame. Based on data analytics, market trends, and customer needs, a business analyst needs to come up with a timeline for the entire life cycle of software development to work in favor of your entire organization as well as the end customer.
Establishing the flow of communication
As simple as an idea might be, bringing it to life takes time, dedication, and plenty of trial and error. That back and forth in the development process requires your business analyst to keep all communication channels open among all of your employees and project participants.
In addition to communicating project details such as goals, requirements, and deliverables, a business analyst is also in charge of keeping everyone on the right track, in the loop, and empowering cross-departmental collaboration whenever necessary.
- Set up regular meetings to check if all milestones are completed and if the project is on track.
- Analysts often serve as intermediaries when teams need to find a solution to a common development issue, even though they don’t share skills, such as marketers and software developers.
- Clarify which communication channels should be used as well as the hierarchy of approval for each stage of your project. This will ensure accountability and individual contribution from each sector and team member.
Handling a variety of digital tools
Software development requires a slew of digital tools for all of your team members to use in order to communicate effectively, share files, collaborate on the cloud, and develop the product itself. Your business analyst might not have to use them all thoroughly, but they should be able to handle the core digital tools for your project to succeed.
From project management tools, your QA software, all the way to a range of communication and analytics tools, your business analyst should be well-versed in them all. If not, perhaps it’s time for a refresher course or additional training to enable better business-wide collaboration.
Recognizing problems and issue resolution
Even the best planned projects and development life cycles will inevitably have their own unique setbacks and issues. Why? Because more often than not, a business analyst will uncover new data during the development and testing stages, and thus need to adapt the project requirements and refine the deliverables to reflect these newly-discovered bits of information. In consultation with the DevOps team, a business analyst needs to come up with realistic ways to overcome these issues in time.
So, a business analyst will often need to do the following:
- Spot software issues and bring customer complaints to light.
- Organize efficient meetings and come up with a strategy to fix the bugs and resolve issues.
- Negotiate between different teams when there are conflicts.
- Find ways to adjust the project plan with the new goals and deliverables.
While no business analyst can replace an entire team of experienced developers, marketers, and project managers, their role is still essential in maintaining the necessary balance for all to work properly together. Do your business analysts have the skills and knowledge to cover all of the listed aspects of their role? If not, it’s time to expand their expertise and ultimately drive your entire development life cycle forward by ensuring that the right people are on the job.