What Do Business Analysts Do For Your Software Project?




What exactly does a business analyst do in a software company or consultancy?

A newbie might think a business analyst is a dev team member that does all the stuff developers don’t do. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but in software consultancy, the demands of the Business Analyst role go well beyond the traditional job description. In Devetry’s case, business analyst’s expertise branch into areas of product and project management.

Here at Devetry, we help companies build custom software and business analysts (we also call them BAs) are a huge factor in the success of a project. While job responsibilities vary from place to place, here are our business analyst’s purposes and contributions.

A Business Analyst’s Purpose

We asked our BA team to come up with these categories themselves. After brainstorming, here are the four areas they identified.

A Liaison Between Teams

  • The communication stream and filter. Having a focal contact makes communication smooth. Our business analysts have a balanced knowledge between technical and business and can filter out unnecessary details which makes sprints easy to keep up with.
  • Impediment remover. If there is an obstacle (budget, bugs, change in requirements), your BA will problem-solve to find a solution.
  • Flexible communication. Your call whether you prefer Slack, email, video call, phone call, etc.)

A Leader

There is a certain amount of leadership business analysts need since they manage projects and people. Leadership qualities in software include things like:

  • Build the project vision. What does the end state look like? Creating this vision helps because tasks naturally get segmented.
  • Jump into challenges. Taking on the new process and business challenges is an important aspect of the job.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be influential. Speak to experiences and influence how the team and advisors

Clarity in a Complex World

Often it’s difficult for a software engineer to communicate technical speak in a non-technical way. A business analyst knows a mix of technical and business needs and can communicate with all parties clearly.

  • Simplify the complexities. A single bug fix may require additional lines of code, tests, and follow-ups. As a product manager or director of engineering, you don’t have the desire to know every minute detail. A business analyst will understand the complexities, but simplify them depending on your role.
  • Gather & translate the needs (requirements). Especially when building a new digital product, clear requirements are essential. A business analyst will help you define requirements and then turn them into something the entire engineering team can act upon.
  • Documentation & deliverables. Documentation is important for future fixes and enhancements. A business analyst will ensure this is accomplished each and every time.
  • Status Updates. Wondering what’s next for your MVP? A business analyst participates in daily/weekly standups and can update you frequently.

An Available Resource

  • Where people can find answers. Have a question? Ask your business analyst.
  • Knows the team’s strengths & weaknesses. At some point, your software will require a certain feature or integration. BAs know the engineering team and can delegate.
  • Understands the “Why” behind decisions. In software development, context is king. A business analyst can see the bigger picture and provide this context for technical team members.
  • Thinks about things before they are needed. Devetry’s business analysts have years of software and project management experience. They often know what needs to happen, even before you do.

The Day to Day of a Devetry Business Analyst

The individual tasks business analysts do fall under project management, product ownership, and business analysis.

Project Management

  • Scheduling & agendas
  • Action items & follow up
  • Stakeholder communications
  • Impediment removal
  • Agile advocate (Scrum)
  • Budgeting
  • Invoicing
  • Documentation
  • Metric tracking (velocity, budget, etc.)

Product Ownership

  • Feature prioritization
  • User types
  • User research
  • Product use cases
  • Stakeholder feedback
  • Articulate value of the product in the marketplace
  • Value vs lift analysis
  • Backlog management

Business Analysis

  • Requirements gathering
  • Ticket writing
  • Ticket QA and UAT
  • Research
  • Data/metric visualization
  • Analysis (GA, heat maps, usage numbers, etc.)
  • Testing artifacts (Testing plans, test scenarios, etc.)
  • Development team artifacts (DoD, architecture diagrams, etc.)

A business analyst may also own or manage the testing and QA of your product.

Deliverables to Expect from a Business Analyst

Since a BA is responsible for all project documentation, there are many deliverables a client can expect. This includes things like,

  • Product backlog
  • Definition of done
  • Project plans
  • Testing plans
  • Gantt Charts
  • Wireframes
  • Test scenarios
  • Sprint backlogs
  • User analysis
  • SOW deliverables
  • Retro documentation
  • Training documentation
  • Issue tracker
  • Hour tracking
  • And more!

How a Business Analyst Fits into a Product Team

Here is a common makeup of a product team at Devetry. The project advisor is you and your stakeholders.

Business Analyst Vs. Product Manager

A product manager takes ownership of the product and is held accountable for maximizing the value of what’s built by the development team. They help the development team prioritize items in the product backlog to optimize its value in the marketplace.

The product owner/manager is also responsible for knowing each use case of the product.  At any time, the product manager should have the goal of the product in mind and communicate that with product stakeholders (project sponsor, executive leadership, client, etc).

A business analyst, at Devetry, is a member of the development team that owns the requirements gatherings and documentation for a product. The purpose of creating business requirements is to facilitate transparency for the development team and create documentation for them to reference as questions come up. In most of our in-house projects, a business analyst writes the tickets (not always the case in other companies or projects within Devetry) and leads “ticket grooming sessions” so the tickets are clear artifacts.

Both roles are important, but generally speaking, a business analyst is focused on the nitty-gritty details of implementation while a product manager is focused on product value maximization. The BA also creates testing documents like scenarios and test cases to ensure thorough test coverage.