So. You have an awesome idea. Congrats. Do you know that idea is worth nothing without execution? Definitely you know this, because you start searching for the development company to create “the next big thing”. BUT you perhaps will not have enough money, will you? Even if you will, you think that it is better to put them into office or more into marketing… I will appreciate your second solution but…
Here is the thing. A lot of startupers or other guys, who want to develop the software to “improve our business process” when it comes to the “money” part of the game are telling that “we know everything!” or “we will create it on our own — we need from you only development”. Sometimes it starts even earlier. But, the word “but” is coming — trying to “save money” in the “we-do-not-need-a-business-analyst-game” is like to building a house without an architect. You have the idea how the house will look like, but the architect usually knows types of houses, he has several ideas on different houses or he will ask you the question on particular rooms in the houses and its appearance you have not thinked of before. With the help of this architect, who, by the way, draws the house plan, you build your house. Imagine you do it on your own? Yes, you can — if you are an architect, or you decide to become one — otherwise you do not have neither time no skills for it.
So, the problem is that some customers who want to develop the software product for their business or create a business as a software product avoid having a business analyst in the team— because “we could do this role”. The result, very often, is dramatic — tons of money are withdrawn from customer`s bank account and flew to developers who created the product nobody will care about because it is not that good. And the root cause, usually, if the analysis of the business. And then — “translation” of the business goals to developers.
Here is why you need a business analyst in your team:
- BA is the guy (ok, girl), who will ask you some very uncomfortable questions about your company, why you need the product and which business goals it will help you to reach. Sometimes you will feel like naked — nobody wants to talk about “pains and gains” because those are your plans. But, being unfair with BA is the wrong way — he or she will start to dig in the wrong direction and you will be unhappy with solution in the end. It is all because you were not sincere at the start. So, be brave and unveil the truth — why you need the business.
- BA will do the research for you. Even if you are Subject Matter Expert in your business domain, we usually do market research, SWOT, PEST and other analysis. Sometimes even BCG or other “consulting matrix” could be used. All this is done to analyze product perspectives. Also BAs are doing user research — we need to test the idea — whether there is a demand for the product. Here a customer could have two main outcomes — either the market research was good and company could have the chanse to create great product — BAs build the basis for the next steps. But, sometimes, not everything is as sunny and the result is the truth that the business idea will not fly. Sometimes, there are customers, who think that idea will fly still. Then some Business Canvas or Value Proposition Canvas could be used and the business idea — re-thinked. But, sometimes, BA will tell you the idea seems not to work. And it will be true. Being without BA means believing blindly into idea without possibility of “pivotal” thinking.
- BA could create mockups. Clickable. Visualize your ideas. Will you do it on your own? Yes, you can — mybalsamiq.com or other tools are available. But, how much time will it take to prototype? Too much for a person who is not familiar with tools and too little if you are working with a professional. I think your time is more valuable when it comes to strategic vision for the product or marketing. Everything else is analyzed and created by BA.
- BA works with stakeholders. If you are a decision maker it is good — but you are, probably, not the only one — there are employees, customers and other stakeholders who will use you application in different ways. Count on this. BA is working with all groups in complex and creates best solutions for all of them.
- BA will create features based on the business needs. Yes, not only the features you want — but the ones which will bring the best business value to the world. That is why it takes time to do BA job. That is why companies take BA to do the job — because you may fall in love with your product — but you are not your customer. Business needs shall be always on the top of the pyramid. Going down you will see user requirement and functionality. BA will help you to build an impact map. Do not know what it is? Use BA)
- BA will create a vocabulary. Because you think in ROI, revenue, profit and “magnetic fluctuations” and the developer thinks in “class”, “line” and “object” terms. BA is in the middle. He understands both of you and is an traslator so you could focus on business issues and your team — on development.
- BA is the person, who would study very quickly — usually he could not be an expert in your domain, but with your help and self-study he quickly becomes the one. You may tell me “but what about quality???” — yes, there are several industries which have very high level of entrance in time conditions — for example you have to deal with medical market and be a surgeon (or roundabout) to make the software for surgerys. OR you could talk to professional and consult with him. In other cases BA will learn quickly. Moreover, working with BA with different background you could use his expertise for product innovations — as you know the “innovation lies on the edge” of technologies, industries etc.
- BA is the person who will answer your question. It is the person, who will give you product. The one, who will give you the solution.
Actually, for me BA is a consultant — he is working with your product, thinking about your product and trying to make it better all the time. And always in mind he has business goals.
Hiring a BA is expensive. But the investments you make today will bring you huge ROIs tomorrow.
Former business analyst @hireukrainians and BA @eleks.
Disclosure: This post was created as a scream of soul of BA, who has seen some unsuccessful products which system creation execution was not brilliant. There are a lot of ways to improve.