Business Analyst Role — A Bridge Between IT and Business

BUSINESS ANALYST ROLE

Business analysts intervene at the project management stage in information technology. Working with the project manager, their role is specifically to analyze business requirements before the start of a project. Their work involves identifying, defining, analyzing then documenting the underlying needs of a project. They guarantee the compliance of a project with business requirements and help determine which projects have priority. 

The work of business analysts differs from that of traditional information systems analysts because they focus exclusively on the benefits of the project for the company’s business. It is also different than that of project managers and functional analysts because their role is to show what the product will be required to do, and not how it will do it. The analysis of needs is carried out with no commitment toward a specific product.

DUTIES

  • Understand the business context and the impact of the projects on corporate processes
  • Contribute to the strategic planning of information systems 
  • Document the scope of projects, their objectives, added value or expected benefits
  • Translate business requirements into technical objectives for development teams
  • Use advanced modelling and analytical tools
  • Follow up during testing and implementation

THE PLACE OF BUSINESS ANALYSTS WITHIN THE COMPANY

Since the profession is relatively recent, companies are not yet quite sure where it fits in. For now, they are testing various models; some business analysts work in the computer department, while others report to the project office and yet others are distributed across each department of the company. 

As says Clément Côté, senior consultant with 2C Solutions and president of the Montreal chapter of the IIBA, each of these solutions has its strengths and weaknesses. “When business analysts report directly to the computer department, they must be careful to always maintain their independence and remain open to any solution, even ones that don’t involve computers. Despite their technical specialization, business analysts have to be able to exit this technical sphere if they have to.”

PROFESSIONAL EVOLUTION

Junior business analysts start out working on simple projects and use limited tools. They focus on interviews, information research and classic analysis. 

As they gain in experience, they work on larger projects and become proficient in the use of increasingly complex tools: modelling, quality assurance, object-oriented tools, UML techniques (Unified Modelling Language). More experienced analysts can also perform more advanced analysis. 

COMPANIES THAT ARE HIRING 

Most business analysts work as employees in very large companies. “The business analyst function directly affects company growth,” emphasizes Clément Coté. “It is therefore less easy to outsource than computer systems development.” Large companies therefore prefer to have their own in-house business analysts. 

On the flip side, medium-sized companies tend to use external service suppliers, such as CGI or DMR. Very few business analysts today are self-employed.

Growth sectors right now include insurance, finance, telecom and government institutions. Projects that require business analysts are any thatinvolve development: Internet development, SOA architecture, etc. 

The jobs are mainly in the large business centres where corporate head offices are located, such as Toronto or Vancouver. Western Canada is currently more active, but things are heating up in the east too. 

PROFILE OF THE PROFESSION

The profession is slightly more feminine. Women often hail from the business world while most men have a computer background.

Most business analysts are between 35 and 40 years of age.

POTENTIAL TITLES

Business analyst – Operations analyst – Project analyst – Business systems analyst – Functional analyst – Systems analyst – Project pilot

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