Hiring a Business Analyst is not a “Need.” Ensuring the quality of software products and services with proper Requirements Development and Management (RDM) -is needed. Yes, a team of Business Analysts gets the job done. But how is the need fulfilled? Please give this four-minute read a shot, capitalize your coffee break. ROI guaranteed.
A “Topic Sentence” is the first sentence of a paragraph, an expression that carries the gist. In general, “Business Requirements” is also the first thing we consider when developing software. No matter what the development process is, either iterative or incremental; Developing and Managing the Business Requirements are one of the first few processes to follow religiously. Maybe not? Because the “Need” comes first.
Need VS Requirement
If you tell your brother, I am not feeling well. Your brother would say, just tell me what to do. You might end up asking him to bring a glass of water. This is a well-defined requirement but does not necessarily meet the need.
If you tell your mother, I feel cold and thirsty. She might bring you a warm blanket and a glass of fresh lemonade without ice. Your mother understands your need. Thus, she can provide you with a more suitable and desired solution.
The first question a Software Business Analyst asks is: What business needs to meet? Like all experts, Business Analysts have their processes and tools to approach the need and offer solutions and functional requirements of software products or services to meet the need. Why do they do it with RDM?
Requirements Development and Management intent to bring forth the need, prepare and “Align” requirements by planning and managing work products. What value do we get? It makes a pledge to customers that their needs and expectations are met. How do they ensure that?
Record Business Requirements
A plain and straightforward way to begin with is to prepare a Business Requirement Document (BRD). Business Analyst might utilize some strategic planning techniques, frameworks, and principles (E.g., SWOT, PESTEL, Pareto) to further break down the scenarios and justify the solutions. This helps businesses to agree with the clarification of the problem identification and understand the proposed solutions from the perspective of end-users.
Analyze the Business Need and Prepare Scope of Work
Business Analysts are used to a wide variety of different applications. They can visualize the different users of the proposed software solutions and their actions. Therefore, they modulate the requirements in relation to users and make it easier to understand for developers. Scope of Work focuses more on functional requirements so that businesspeople can relate the works with their scope. In later phases of business development, it becomes more technical before software development begins with documents like Software Requirements Specification (SRS), Software Design Description (SDD), Configuration Management Plan, etc.
Alignment with Cross-functional Team
A cross-eye produces two different angles of view. In a worst-case scenario, it could be like six blind men and an elephant. Hence the significance of alignment with technical team and business team is required. How do Business Analysts achieve this? Cross-functional flowcharts can come in handy, transparent, and lucid. It both illustrates the functional requirements of users and possible technical implementations. It covers all the processes involved with easy visuals. Concisely, the technical team validates the approach proposed by the Business team. This makes the requirements more visible and easier to understand to stakeholders and helps them iterate, finalize, and confidently agree on the requirements and terms.
Agile Development has been a buzzword since the beginning of this century and over time, some myth took place.
Agile Development = Requirements Change at Any time.
Without any kind of Business Requirement Analysis, it is possible to turn some user stories into backlogs and say, TADA! Go Scrum. Stir fry some keywords: Backlog Grooming, Involve Client, and do not forget to season with some Scrum Butts. Some Project Managers are even like superheroes. They play roles of Business Analyst, Scrum Master cum Product Owner, and Tech Lead. Why will this fail? Because it was not brought in place considering the need and root cause of requirements and followed by sub-requirements. Epics and user stories are rocks and pebbles in parent-child hierarchies. Yes, everything (even a boulder) is movable. However, pebbles are easier than rocks. Hence the change in requirements. So, agile methodologies reduce it, and Business Analysts make it even easier to make use of a Traceability Matrix being more focused on core business need.
Part Man, Part Machine, All Cop -Robocop!
An eighties TV series. It is an excellent demonstration of the significance of a handshake, a bridge between two entities – Logic and Emotion. A machine understands the “instructions,” but it does not have “humanity” in it to understand the need of different stakeholders of a critical situation to identify problems and provide solutions. We can put Machine Learning aside for another day. The notion to take is, such art of bridging combines the best of both worlds. Businesspersons understand their business very well and might not be technically sound in terms of software development. Thus, their way of expressing needs is different from technical people. And vice versa. However, if a person could have a good hold on knowledge of business development and software development, he could be a Business Analyst to minimize the gap between business and technology with the proper practice of RDM.
In a Nutshell
Areas covered here are the minimum effort we should put into the effective requirements analysis of software solutions. Business Analysts come in many varied sizes and shapes with different areas of expertise to match the specific need and type of a Business. Also, for enterprise solutions, they work great as a team of Analysts to achieve Synergy, a combined effect greater than the sum of the team members. Hence, just hiring a Business Analyst is not a Silver Bullet but one step forward to develop and manage requirements that significantly affect ensuring the quality of the software products and services in combination with Peer Review, Process Quality Assurance, and Verification & Validation.