So you have just got that job as an IT Business Analyst. Congratulations! Did you come via a business role where you helped work on some projects, and management thought to themselves “lets make this person a BA”. Or have you just completed a Business Information Systems degree or similar and have decided that a client facing, anti programming, fact gathering role suited you better?
Well you have made a great career choice either way. Predictions from many corners of the world are saying the business analyst in IT is one of the fastest growing roles. Everyday people like you and me need to use more and more software in our daily lives. Mobile phone applications, internet and government applications are on the rise.
A business analyst can work from one industry to the next without much trouble. Since the job is about understanding what business and users want for a particular objective, you simply help take the orders, make a few suggestions and document/model the requirements according to the company policies or methodologies.
For instance, someone at this site would have had to model and gather the users requirements for the operation and fundamentals of this blogging service. Authoring, loading, auditing, checking, user management and registration…the list goes on.
A business analyst would have had to define, interview and double check all the functionality with business representatives and users alike. What would be popular with users? What hasn’t worked elsewhere in the blog community? The IT business analyst is the right smack bang in the middle of all projects and they are one of the most valuable members of any project. Who else does all the liaising between departments, validates, confirms and workshops ideas.
Degrees of change - CIO.com.au
You also have a global ticket to work in this world, especially Europe and Asia and before too long, China will be needing many BA’s. At least the corporates can’t offshore BA’s at present and many seem to think that it will never happen. A standard set of tools and practices is slowly starting to form for the business analyst. UML, RUP, Use cases, data modelling. Many books from world class authors such as Richter, Larman and Simison are ever popular. So what soft and hard skills do BA’s use? Diagramming, modelling, interviewing, writing documents…
So what are the two most important UML models for the business analyst?
The Use Case diagram and the Class diagram.
The Use Case diagram express the business and system functionality while the Class diagram describes the relationships between objects.
A few years back I had a business representative complain that my requirements document wasn't up to scratch. I was told that there was no relationship between the use cases and that it was lacking in precise detail. It went further, he stated that it beared little resemblence to the feasibility document and that the requirements document needed to be useful for the life of the software, not just the vendor selection.
I answered the following way. Firstly, there is no need to have linked relationships between use cases, each one needs to stand on it's own to help the user acheive a goal. Secondly, I informed him that use cases weren't designed for extreme details like fields and screens. It would be like using an Excel spreadsheet to write a letter. I asked for another 6-8 weeks to satisfy the request for extreme details that early in the project, but he sheepishly declined. Software development was the focus, not documentation development.
I also mentioned the requirements document can be a great foundation for a user manual since it describes the relationship between the user and system. A user manual is better placed than a requirements document to teach new users how to use a system.
Here are some web sites that explain use cases...