Business Analysis in Software Development

Be an Intuitive Business Analyst

The role of a business analyst is to evaluate systems, processes, and operations and determine ways technology can add value. To achieve this, you work with both your business stakeholder group and your development group. With that said, intuition is a necessary skill to be a great business analyst. Being intuitive means you think and act based on what you feel is true or correct. Your intuition makes up for the systems and processes you can’t analyze. Being intuitive is being instinctive. We have to remember that a business stakeholder’s primary role is not in software development. To make up for that, we have to do the thinking for them. Sometimes it might even come across as being a mindreader. This immediately makes me think of being a member of the X-Men. Put yourself in Professor X’s shoes (and wheelchair). With his mutant superpowers of mindreading and persuasion, he would undoubtedly be the world’s greatest business analyst.

Practice your Business Analyst Superpowers

Just like Professor X can get inside someone’s head, you must do the same. Start by learning from your stakeholders, understanding what it is they do and how they function. Put yourself in their place, think as they think, and anticipate their needs. Look for improvement opportunities and empathize with their pain points. Your business stakeholder does not want to waste time playing a meaningless game of twenty questions. Build rapport, build a relationship, build trust. All of this further helps a stakeholder to open up and share what’s needed. With a stakeholder’s expert feedback, you as a business analyst can start creating intelligent and intuitive requirements needed in successful software development. Get inside the minds of your stakeholders with thoughtful questions and genuine conversation to truly understand the business need or pain point. By anticipating their needs and documenting robust requirements, stakeholders may start seeing you as that mind reader.

Before Magneto altered Earth’s electromagnetic field, Professor X was known to exert his power across the entire planet. That takes broadening your horizons to an almost literal level and you can do just that in requirements analysis. As a business analyst, you’re expected to think of everything. While it’s a near impossible task, you want to account for as much as you can. So, broaden your horizons. Take a step back from the immediate business need and identify other impacts. If multiple stakeholder groups are impacted by the same business need, do not leave them out. Include as many user groups as you can in your requirements analysis to get the big picture. Use your intuition to determine where you can drill down to finer points and identify new requirements you may have missed. Outwardly, look at how technology is being used successfully in similar industries. Even in totally niche businesses, there’s guaranteed to be a product on the market with similar features and functionality. Understanding multiple viewpoints and incorporating them into a software feature can have a broader impact, further maximizing your ROI.

Professor X’s ultimate goal is a peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans. In software development, an important goal of the business analyst should be something similar - create a bridge between business stakeholders and the development team. This is done in two different perspectives. One is to help your development team understand why it is they’re building what they’re building. The other is to teach stakeholders the possibilities and limitations of technology and how that impacts their business.

Rally Your Software Development Team

For your development team, your developers and software testers will feel more confident by knowing the business context for the software they are to build. Having this fundamental business knowledge means less clarifying questions and faster delivery time. Teaching them to think as the user does turns into intuitive software code that meets requirements and creates real value. On the business side, you’re teaching your stakeholders about how technology and the software development process works. Stakeholders broaden their intuition on what level of information and detail they need to provide to make projects efficient and successful. You encourage the business to see their IT representatives as colleagues and not just order takers for new features. You’re helping stakeholders understand how technology adds value. Your stakeholders will learn how software development and technology are an integral piece of business strategy. In the end, you have an intuitive business stakeholder that is confident, empowered in their software development role, and trusting of your development organization.

Practice your intuition to be the Professor X of business analysts. Ask thoughtful questions to get inside the minds of your stakeholders and users. Don’t be afraid to think big and get the whole picture. Build the bridge between the business and IT to form lasting partnerships. Together you can form your very own software X-Men team. And yes, that’s as corny as it sounds.

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