How Business Analysts Boost Success in Creating Software

At Soliant, our project teams include business analysts to ensure our clients get successful applications that meet their goals. But what does a business analyst do? We’re sharing an explanation of the role and why it’s crucial to a project and bridges the gap between developer and client champion.

What is a Business Analyst?

A Business Analyst’s primary role is to analyze business processes. They act as an agent of change to make those processes better, therefore providing value to their customers. Business Analysts are critical problem solvers, providing solutions for people and their systems and processes. A Business Analyst will often specialize in different areas or industries. The role is very relationship focused and will often work with people from various backgrounds. They strive to build trust while delivering value-added results.

What Makes Business Analysts at Soliant Different?

What sets Soliant’s Business Analysts apart is product ownership. Being asked to serve as a product owner is like being asked to be a quarterback of a football team. You can no longer only be concerned about a portion of the players on the field. Analyzing every player on your team and the opposing team is critical to winning the game. This is similar to the product owner on a software project. Steve McConnell says it best in his book, “More Effective Agile,” on page 45:

The “Product Owner” or (PO) is the interface between the scrum team on the one hand and the business management, customers, and other stakeholders on the other. The PO has primary responsibility for defining the product backlog, with the overarching responsibility of defining the product in a way that maximizes the value delivered by the scrum team.

This is a direct reference to using Scrum for project management, which we leverage in our process. For our projects, whoever is in the business analyst role will also act as the product owner. The product owner role is oftentimes shared between our Business Analyst and our client. Our clients don’t always have in-depth Scrum knowledge, but we are able to easily guide them through the process.

You can learn more about our practices here: Soliant Project Management.

Having a product owner on a project ensures all the moving parts turn correctly and helps the team adjust accordingly. This helps to catch and eliminate risks early that could be detrimental to the project. The Business Analyst/product owner can help mitigate risks to a project to ensure it is successful.

How Business Analysts Ensure a Successful Project

1. Build Solid Requirements

With regards to poor requirements, Steve McConnell states in his book, “More Effective Agile” on page 175:

For the first 25 years, I worked in software development, every study I saw that examined causes of project challenge and failure found that the leading cause of problems was poor requirements – requirements that were incomplete, incorrect, contradictory, and so on. For the past 10 years, the most common cause of challenges my company has found on Agile projects has been difficulty in filling the Product Owner role, which is really about – you guessed it – requirements.

When a new feature or idea comes from the business, a product owner needs to do several things. First, you’ll need to understand why the feature is needed and what problem it is going to solve. Additionally, it’s important to understand the potential solutions available. Then, choose the best one based on the value to the user, timeframe, the cost to develop, and any potential technical debt.

Next, they must define the acceptance criteria. This will help the development process and quality assurance review by the development team and the customer(s). Furthermore, it will ensure that any potential gaps are accounted for upfront and don’t lead to rework down the road.

2. Sufficient Product Backlog Refinement

Although product backlogs are done by the entire team, the product owner is responsible for the product backlog. Without assigning an owner, tickets remain insufficient to be worked on, thus delaying the implementation and/or leaving the developers hungry for work. However, a product owner is going to discover features, enhancements, and so on. They will properly define the stories so that they can be brought before the group for further refinement. Also, product owners are focused on prioritization. There are often many weeks worth of stories and tasks to work on at a time. But which one should they work on first? It’s super important that the team is focused on the most important things first to ensure they are delivering the most value to the customer. That is how a product owner can optimize the refinement process.

3. Friendly User Interface Solutions

Developers are not normally asked to develop solutions with the best user interface. Their primary focus is to program the application to execute the function that the users want and need. That’s why a product owner is an integral part of not only providing functional solutions but also making sure the solutions are intuitive. As mentioned above by Steve McConnell, product owners are advocates for the users. So, whether it’s writing the user story during planning or doing the functional quality assurance tests after development, the product owner can help ensure the user gets a straightforward solution. This encourages users to adopt the solution and the customer gets the value that they paid for.

Choosing a Business Analyst for Your Next Custom Business Application

At Soliant Consulting, we ensure our clients get a full team of experts. Our services teams include a Business Analyst, project manager, and developers. Our Business Analysts serve as problem solvers for the project. They ensure our clients receive a finished application that achieves their goals and tackles their specific challenges, all while staying within budget and timeline. Contact us to learn more about how our team can support yours.

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