To understand the importance of the business analyst’s role in product development, let’s engage in a thought experiment.
Imagine you own a catering business that employs a number of people and serves an array of customers, large and small. You have stable supply lines, management, a labor force, and a budget to make it all happen. Your main challenge comes from the fact that all your events, even repeated ones for the same client, require different foods and preparations for different spaces and themes.
To make things more difficult in this scenario, you have to work with your clients from their ideas, which can be general or even vague, in order to zero in on their preferred experience for attendees. Based on what is pitched by the client, you have to determine what to make and when to make it for each event, pre-planning is critical. You must make sure your plan has everything that needs to be prepared beforehand to guarantee it all comes together as seamlessly as possible.
Software product development is a lot like this situation. In both cases, the entire endeavor needs someone to facilitate communication between the client and the team that delivers the end product. In software development, the business analyst ensures a unified vision between developers and the product owner throughout the project lifecycle.
To help you understand the importance of Business Analysis in product development, let’s look at the top five reasons to have a business analysis consultant on your team.
Reducing time to development has a direct impact on your Return On Investment (ROI). Business analysis consultants increase your velocity by clarifying and prioritizing requirements, then planning work sprints accordingly. Furthermore, they make sure the pipeline feeding your development team is stocked and unblocked.
Business analysis consultants also tend to be field experts based on their experience. At DOOR3, we have a wide variety of business analysts on our team, all of which have expertise in different subject areas. Depending on the clients needs, we have the capability to match our BA’s to problem areas that they have addressed before. This increases speed by reducing the period of research or exploration that needs to be done. Of course, every business’s challenges are unique to themselves, but if given the option, wouldn’t you prefer consulting someone who knows your industry as opposed to someone who doesn’t?
While picking up the pace may be a great way to increase ROI, there are associated risks. Speed can kill, and moving fast can mean defective product releases. Expediting timelines on your own increases this risk for error, but having a business analysis consultant on your team ensures fastidious attention to detail and cross-communication between product owners and developers. This dedicated oversight and strong channel of communication ensures a faster pace while reducing the number of defects in deliverables.
The context BAs provide to business requirement documentation also means less improvements have to be made down the line. This efficiency is added through applying their understanding of your business’s current processes, business goals, and pain points, as well as the markets and end users you are targeting. These insights are used to clarify and codify what your product should do and how the developers should build it.
Another critical oversight BAs provide is in planning sprints of work to ensure a comprehensive order to feature development, an appropriate sized scope, and the information necessary to accomplish it. This holistic perspective allows for multiple cross-disciplinary resources to work on features simultaneously.
It is said you can’t develop a product “fast, good, and cheap.” Putting resources into one of these categories puts risks on the others, and most teams settle for two out of three. However, BAs can help you work toward a perfect balance between these three, by lowering your costs of operations inherently. A business analyst acts as the point person to help navigate the scope of a project, as scale and scope can frequently fluctuate during meetings between developers and product owners. This fluctuation puts all three of these categories at risk, resulting in an unhappy client and an unfinished product.
A business analysis consultant keeps everyone focused on the problem they are trying to solve with their application, guiding executives to understand their needs over their wants. Keeping a project focused on needs will reduce overhead costs, as wants tend to be superfluous, extending timelines and bringing projects over budget.
This straightforward approach saves time on meetings as well, reducing the amount of back and forth redundancy so your team can spend more of their day focusing on other projects. With a BA’s focus on roadmapping practices and optimization of process, fewer errors are made in the implementation of an MVP. Corrections during implementation are significantly more expensive to address, resulting in sudden jumps in cost right at the end of a project. This kind of risk management of errors discovered by the BA during development are much cheaper to correct, increasing the cost efficacy overall.
On top of reducing overall costs, a BA maintaining a clear scope for a product also results in a better UX design. You’ve probably had the experience of using an app or product that has redundancies or aspects that you rarely use. This is often due to a lack of research into user experience and how to add value, giving uninformed guesses or opinions on direction the ability to drive the scope of development.
A large part of a BA’s work is to ensure what is developed serves the end user’s needs and satisfies the business’s goals. They streamline workflows and optimize user experience to focus on core features, leading the team to develop a product that serves the user base effectively.
Careful consideration of UX is more important than many business leaders recognize. If it wasn’t for UX design, Apple may have never become the dominating force it is in the tech industry. You can read more about Apple’s ROI on UX here.
One of the most important drivers of successful product teams is good organization. Your teams should work from a single source of truth. BAs provide this common ground for the team. By creating synergy from the beginning of a project to its end. Your business analysis consultant should build out a holistic view that frames developed solutions to work directly towards desired outcomes. This organization encourages collaboration, increased efficiency, and lower stress environments for your entire team.
The BA’s organizational role extends throughout the product lifecycle. Often, especially in complex projects with multiple teams, groups become sequestered and communication breaks down. This can be disastrous. BAs facilitate sustainable collaboration by eliminating information silos and ensuring everyone’s priorities match up with the product owners and stakeholders.
The value a business analysis consultant adds to a development team cannot be understated. Their work is not limited to documenting interactions between product owners and development teams like some claim, but instead they play an integral part in keeping projects on budget and on time. For the reasons we’ve reviewed, if you’re serious about success, it pays to have a BA. At DOOR3, the role of a business analyst is so important that we keep a team of BA’s on staff as opposed to hiring consultants, as their work is critical in our client success pipeline.
Business Analysts don’t just help your internal teams. Their work increases user satisfaction and encourages growth, which directly translates to your stakeholders.
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