The Rise to Power of Business Analysts

Since its appearance at the end of the 1970s, the role of business analysis has evolved into a key function in the world of information technology today. With the market imposing increasingly faster implementation times, more efficient and global solutions, along with a more controlled return on investment, business analysis becomes an essential step in the satisfactory completion of large-scale projects. 

EMERGENCE OF BUSINESS ANALYSIS

In the 1990s, companies were confronted with many delays, surcharges and lack of relevance in their IT projects. Often, the source of these difficulties lay in a poor definition of business requirements, leading to a disconnect between what developers were building and what companies needed. The “let’s start coding, and see what we get” syndrome left many high and dry. 

Companies therefore realized the importance of separating business analysis from computer development and project management. Project managers and IT specialists were no longer enough to transform business needs into innovative, value-added solutions. A more solid bridge was required between the business world and the technical community: the business analyst.

A FUNDAMENTAL ROLE IN A CONTEXT OF OUTSOURCING

Outsourcing also played a role in the growth of this profession. As companies were discovering that it was relatively easy to outsource their technical resources, they were also realizing that the definition of business requirements was an essential step for outsourcing to run smoothly. This is a skill that is difficult to delegate, however, since it relates to a company’s core activities. Large businesses therefore started to hire business analysts to work in house.

Outsourcing also provided candidates for business analysis: “With the outsourcing of computer development to countries such as China and India, some developers migrated to this profession for fear of losing their jobs,” explains Cherifa Mansoura Liamani, senior business analyst at IBM. 

A PROFESSION BEING DEFINED

Nowadays, most large-scale projects are managed by a team of project managers, in association with business analysts. One group monitors project management, while the other focuses on the management of business needs. It’s thanks to the work of the business analyst that needs are truly understood by the technical team, even before the solution is created and implemented. 

Meanwhile, however, the designation remains poorly recognized. “Still today, many professionals work in business analysis without being aware of it,” emphasizes Clément Côté, senior consultant at 2C Solutions and president of the Montreal IIBA. chapter. For now, it is more of a role than a job title, because the profession has not yet structured itself.”

The founding of IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) in 2003 is helping gradually organize the discipline with the creation of standards, and the recognition of the profession by providing it with more visibility. A CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certification has already been set up; it is equivalent to the PMP certification for project managers. Montreal will hold the first CBAP exam in May 2007.

For more information: IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis)

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