Photo credit: Mayr
If you look at answers to the question “what does a business analyst do?” in discussion forums, you’ll get a variety of answers, many of which summarizing the job in a limited way, using terms like “translator”, “facilitator”, “requirements gatherer”, and “interface between the business and technical people”.
The reality is, most business analysts have the power to shape their role in their organization to become way more impactful than merely being a conduit of information, as long as they’re willing to make the investment in time and effort.
Some BAs decide to stick to a “messenger” role of writing down requirements as stated by the stakeholders for the development team (and later complain that their role is not valued in their organization, or that their efforts are never recognized with more visibility and responsibility).
Others become natural leaders who consistently look for opportunities to create value within and outside their assigned projects. When their work volume is low, they use their spare time to better understand what is in the critical path of their organization, and what “white space” outside their role (but connected to this critical path) they could be stepping into to help the company. Instead of solving only local problems, they begin to look for systemic problems that could lead to corporate-wide optimizations.
BAs of the latter type insist on shifting the conversation from the features stakeholders are asking for to the results they want to achieve in doing their job. They also seek to understand the different agendas and interdependent goals of the various departments involved before they set out to formulate a solution that addresses important and underserved business outcomes.
They are not afraid to engage with exceptionally hard problems, and have the discipline to identify and craft questions that challenge and candidly assess the situation.
They don’t let their ego get in the way of sharing an idea or plan still in its infancy, knowing that it will benefit from the contribution from others to go from its initial imperfect state to an optimal solution.
Not only they are open to ideas from others, but they constantly push others to contribute, and never discount ideas just because they come from unexpected sources.
They accept that change and uncertainty are part of life, and consider requirements volatility healthy if it results from new information that allows the team to deliver a solution that better solves the business problem.
Complaining is the last refuge for the BA who can’t figure out how to be better. We have far more choices, far more control, and far more responsibility than we give ourselves credit for.