A real business analyst

5th December 2013

Having a real business analyst on your projects is the key to successful delivery.

It's not just about having someone called a business analyst on your project; it's about having a real business analyst on your project.

The definition of what a business analyst does, varies between organisations (and even within organisations). Because of the loose definition, it's easy to give someone this title if you are unsure of their exact duties.

It is often given to junior staff to embellish an admin role, thus further degrading the purpose/value of a real business analyst.

So what is business analysis all about?

  • Business analysis is not about writing down the requirements as they are given.
  • It is not about writing down what is done today and the requirements for tomorrow.
  • It is not even about being able to strucuture a sentence well so that everyone can understand it.

Many studies point to poorly documented requirements being one of the main reasons for project failure. In my experience, it is poorly understood company politics, market factors and organisational drivers that lead to poorly documented requirements.

A real business analyst is someone who has the experience to alter the structure and direction of a project, through the insight gained within the analysis phase. To be able to scope, capture and analyse the requirements in context and offer options that need to be considered.

We should all be saying "I don't just want someone who calls themselves a business analyst on my project; I want a real business analyst."

© Sarah Sparey 2013

We would love to hear your thoughts, comments or questions on this article, please get in touch and send an email.

Oliver Coffman - 12th December 2012 

"Hi Sarah

I am currently a Senior BA although I have also been a Lead PM  and a Programme Manager in the telecoms sector. I agree with your comments 100%, if you do not know what you are building and/or  the sponsor does not know what they are getting, then the project is doomed. In a fast moving world like telecommunication it is also important to have a firm stake in the ground to measure scope creep.

I am currently doing a piece of work to define the role of a BA within my organisation, as it varies between portfolio. Personally I believe one of the most overlooked roles is the critic of the business case and linking this to the terms of reference. If you do this well then you can highlight which parts of the project derive the most benefit.



Sarah's Response...

"Hi Oliver,

Thanks for your post.

It amazes me how many projects do not place any focus on the business case and scope through the project lifecycle. As you say, doing so derives huge benefit due to the fact that the focus is on delivering what the company needs rather than what people lower down in the organisation want (or think they need).

It’s great to hear that you are defining the role of a BA, within your organisation, so that their real value can be officially acknowledged and utilised.

Good Luck


Adrian Reed (@UKAdrianReed) - 14th December 2012

"I completely agree with Sarah Sparey's article about 'Real BA', thanks for posting and sharing!"


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