The ultimate goal of any project is to create a unique product, service or result and in this endeavor a lot of requirement has to be gathered. Thereafter, these requirements have to be managed, prioritized, documented and checked for their feasibility for the business and the person responsible for all this work is called the ‘Business Requirements Analyst’.
A Business Requirements Analyst should be able to understand the broader perspective surrounding the solution to be developed
The moment a project’s life-cycle starts, the Business Requirements Analysts steps in. Sometimes he is available for the complete cycle of the project, analyzing and assisting in each and every stage whereas, if he is working on many projects simultaneously, he may step in whenever required.
These days, Business Requirements Analysts (sometimes referred as just ‘Requirements Analysts’) are seen contributing in almost every domain ranging from Information Technology, Engineering, Infrastructure and Banking, along with several others. Their education backgrounds are as varied as the domains they serve and a Business Requirements Analyst could be a MBA, an engineer or a technician. There is a general belief that analysts are only in the IT and computers departments which is not correct as analysts (although not as much as in IT) are very well present in other domains as well.
The expertise of Business Requirements Analysts comes from the experience they have accumulated over the years in the fields they operate in, their capability to analyze and assess all the components of a problem and an exceptional skill to communicate and document complex business and technical concepts & requirements. Moreover, there are several on-job trainings that are given to analysts to impart interpersonal and soft skills, data modeling and other domain-specific skills.
Although the job of a Business Requirements Analyst is having faint boundaries and their job functions might vary a lot depending upon the nature of the project they are a part of, still, the below detailed responsibilities are to be fulfilled by each and every one of them:
- Understand and help the project manager create the project’s business case by making sure all the high level requirements are listed in the project scope
- Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to justify the feasibility of the proposed solution. In this analysis, a comparison is made between the money that is being spent on the project and the benefits obtained from it. Obviously, it must be studied whether the project will be profitable before committing any time and resources for it.
- Identify the involved stakeholders by either getting the stakeholders list from the initial stakeholders or conducting a study to analyze who all will be involved/affected by the project. Sometimes, a combination of both these techniques may also be used.
- Gather requirements from the key stakeholders by using requirement elicitation techniques like brainstorming, requirement workshops, focus groups and others. Related Article : Highly effective elicitation techniques
- Validate requirements by cross-referencing then with other stakeholders and try to get a buy in. It’s important to achieve a consensus against the requirements before actually start building the solution.
- Analyze and interpret requirements for their viability against the business objective. The last thing any client will want is ‘a fully functional product/service that is not able to solve the problem the project was built for’.
- Recommend workarounds, value additions and remove solution bottlenecks for the stakeholders. Since a Business Requirements Analyst is having knowledge of both business and technology, he is able to propose solutions other might not think of.
- Document requirements by creating use cases, functional and requirement specifications documents. Also, Categorize requirements as functional (contains the features required by the end-users), non-functional (requirements for the performance and usability of the project) operational (operations that are carried out in the background) and technical and accordingly segregate them in different types of documents. Related Article : 9 Important documents created by every business analyst
- Not all requirements may be important and feasible considering the scope and schedule of a project and thus these requirements needs to be managed and prioritized by the Business Requirements Analyst by working closely with the business owners
- Prototype and model requirements – An important step towards letting the end users ‘feel’ what they might get at the end of the project completion. Also, prototyping aids in solution verification, error identification and getting an early feedback regarding the user interface of the project.
- Gain requirements sign-off from the key stakeholders by making sure all of them are on the same level of understanding against the requirements and then getting a written approval from them on the requirements to be developed.
- Overall, be the Requirement Gatekeeper and validate any new requirement for their effect and impact on the existing requirement set of the project.
- Aid in development and testing of the product – Business Requirements Analysts are frequently seen doing the unit testing of the features of their projects and are also assisting the testing team in test case preparation
- Be a part of the Change Control Board – An optional responsibility where in an event of any change to the requirement/s, the Business Requirements Analysts is required to first assess the need of the change, deduce the impact of the change to the complete project, propose any workarounds if possible and then along with other board members (usually the Business representative, PM, technical lead) collectively decide whether to go ahead with the change or not.
- Prepare end user documentation/manuals – An optional task which the Business Requirements Analyst may have to do in case a formal Technical Writer is not available
- Give client presentations, show and tell sessions, Overview sessions – Again, an optional task which needs to be covered by a Business Requirements Analyst in case the Project Manager or Project Coordinator is not available
Some of the more common and domain-independent skills that the Business Requirements Analyst must have are:
- Analysis skills
- Visualization and prototyping skills
- Good command over spoken and written communication
- Elicitation and interviewing skills
- Problem solving and analytical thinking
- Facilitation and observational skills
- Business structure knowledge
- Process modeling skills
- Interpersonal skills
In a nutshell, a Business Requirements Analyst should be able to understand the big picture surrounding the solution to be developed, document the vague ideas into concrete requirements and act as a single point of contact for any clarifications regarding the project’s deliverables. Now, you might say that these job functions are very similar to that of a Business Analyst and the truth is, they are! In many organizations, Business Analyst are called Business Requirements Analyst and their duties are more skewed towards analyzing the requirements rather than anything else.