In some organizations, the technical lead or senior software developer is also asked to gather, analyze or document the software development requirements.
This may be the case when:
- Cowboy Coding -The Organization has not fully embraced any formal software development methodology
- Cost Cutting -The manager wants to cut costs by not hiring for full-time business analysts
- Role Differentiation – The IT / Software Development manager combines the business analyst role into the software development role
But, does combining the business analyst and software development role work or is it better to hire full-time business analysts for your team?
Making A Case For Business Analysts
The traditional or core business analysis skills including software requirements documentation, systems modeling, UML and Use Cases are also required for senior software developer or architect positions.
While business analysts are not computer programmers, their skills have roots in traditional systems analysis or software development career paths.
For example, Skills like UML or Use Cases in particular are also used by software architects in modeling and solution architecture.
With this in mind, some managers are taking the position that traditional software developers are also suited for business analysis duties. And consequently, they do not see the need for hiring business analysts.
This article examines the case for hiring full-time business analysts for your projects.
Computer Programmers Are Not Business Analysts
While software developers sometimes take on some business analyst roles, they are still not business analysts because there are fundamental differences between the mindset of computer programmers and that of business analysts.
Computer programmers spend most of their time designing computer algorithms or coding software routines while business analysts spend most of their time talking to customers, stakeholders and developers.
In other words, while computer programmers are competent at talking to machines, business analysts are skilled at talking to people!
Let’s look at more justifications for hiring full-time business analysts for your organization.
Bridging The Gap Between Business And IT
There is a fundamental gap between business and IT which often leads to project failure.
Software development teams often miss, drift away or ignore business demands, needs and requirements because they spend most of their working time studying or solving technical / information technology problems.
And business units (marketing, operations, sales, customer service, etc.) often do not care enough about or take the time to understand the constraints of technology.
Because they are like polar opposites, there is a fundamental gap between business and technology which requires the intervention of a third-party … the business analyst.
Most IT Projects Fail, Will Yours?
Statistics suggest that more than 50% of software development / IT projects fail. They fail because of poor communication, cost / budget overruns and poor requirements or a weak business case.
While these statistics make a depressing study, they also point that most I.T. projects are at a risk of failing from inception if they are not planned or executed properly.
That is perhaps the best case for hiring full-time business analyst resources for your IT / software project … business analysts can help mitigate or reduce the risk of project failure.
Can Business Analysts Reduce IT Project Failure Rates?
Hiring full-time business analysts can help mitigate or reduce the risk of project failure by:
Creating a clear or convincing business case for your project management or stakeholder team
Creating a clear, concise, complete set of business requirements which can be used by project managers for estimation and budgeting or by quality assurance and software development teams
Bridging the business to IT gap by improving the communication between the two business units through effective written and oral communication skills
There is a significant risk that your IT Project would fail due to a weak business case, poorly defined requirements, lack of stakeholder engagement etc.
So do your project a favor and hire full-time consulting or permanent business analysts for your IT projects.
How To Find Or Hire Good Business Analysts
The options for finding full-time business analysts are limited to re-training existing staff in business analysis or hiring full-time business analysts from recruiters and job portals like LinkedIn and Dice.com.
One benefit of retraining existing team members in business analysis is to avoid costs of hiring additional staff. On the other hand, one advantage of hiring new business analysts is that they are guaranteed to hit the ground running.
If you decide to keep costs low by using or retraining your current IT team (quality assurance analysts, software developers or technical writers) in business analysis, do this:
Focus on re-training team members who have demonstrated some talent or interest in meeting or working with stakeholders, customers and users or in documenting requirements
Then retrain or sharpen your team’s business analysis skills using this resource … that way, your team can hit the ground running or bring new business analysis skills to bear on your project.