Many companies don’t hire a Business Analyst (BA) as a cost saving measure because they think they know their requirements for a tech product delivery. I’m here to tell you why that is a rookie mistake.
BAs work with stakeholders to define needs, document them as requirements, recommend solutions, and work to deliver the recommendations.
According to CIO, about 71% of software projects fail because of poor requirements management.
Often when stakeholders document requirements, they tend to forget or leave out things which may seem obvious to them but that can be very crucial for the delivery team. Requirements need to be documented in a way that is easy for the delivery team to understand. Having a BA on the team solves this issue.
Think of a BA like an interpreter at a multilingual business meeting, if you don’t have the interpreter everyone may get along and think they know what the next steps are, but there will definitely be some important facts and next steps lost in translation on both sides.
Here are five benefits you will see from having a BA on your team;
1. Minimise Scope Creep
Scope creep is very common in tech product development where scope isn’t well defined due to poorly documented requirements.
If requirements are missing essential details then the delivery team would either have to fetch more information from stakeholders or they would deliver based on guesses from the information provided in the requirements. Both of these scenarios can be very costly and will result in scope creep, at a minimum due to lost time gathering more information, also potentially finding out once development has already started that the scope is actually much larger than anticipated.
A BA clearly defines scope and documents in a way which are easily understandable by everyone (including developers, designers, testers and business people). This scope is then agreed upon (i.e. signed off) before the start of development.
BA’s then guard scope along the duration of the product development process by implementing change control and management for tracking and managing any changes to the scope.
2. Avoid miscommunication
If the requirements are ambiguous then people can have different interpretations of the same requirement and it can create a lot of confusion during development. This confusion usually results in stakeholders’ disappointment as their expectations aren’t met.
Costly requirements could be built that don’t solve a problem correctly and so need to be rebuilt.
A Business Analyst helps in clearing up ambiguity when gathering requirements, precisely documenting them and making sure all stakeholders are on the same page.
3. Reduce cost
Hiring a BA may seem like additional cost but it saves a lot of time and money spent on re-work and change requests that arise because of errors in requirements.
As per IBM System Science Institute, to fix an error in the implementation phase costs 6.5% more than to fix it in the requirement analysis phase.
Because Business Analysts work closely with stakeholders to document correct requirements up front, the risk of re-work or changes is minimised.
4. Increase developer productivity
The absence of a Business Analyst increases work load for developers. Without well-defined requirements, gathered ahead of time, the developers will end up going back and forth with stakeholders for clarifications of requirements. This delays the timeline of the product delivery and decreases productivity of the development team. Anyone paying developers salaries knows this is not a good use of developers time.
A Business Analyst works weeks ahead of the dev team to flesh out requirements so when the requirements are in development they can be worked on by developers without any blockers.
Having the BA work ahead of time on requirements also results in more accurate estimations. As an example if a developer doesn’t need to do the BA work, it’s likely that when they estimated 2 days for a ticket they actually mean 2 days, rather than 2 days to engineer and another 3 days to collect the remaining requirements.
If any gaps or further clarity is required later in the development phase a BA takes on this work, leaving the developer to focus on development.
5. Most valuable development delivered first
As BA’s are in the unique position to have handled and defined every requirement from multiple stakeholders they are also in the unique position of understanding which requirement may provide the most value to the business.
This reduces time being spent on underutilised features by prioritising important features over enhancements and other nice to have features.
A BA can recommend objectively which development occurs first, gaining the most value for the business sooner and leaving the less valuable development to happen later.
Likely you have now made the link between the fact that having a BA on the team to scope and document requirements as well as recommend solutions, is likely to save you both time and money.
Don’t be a rookie, make sure you have a BA on the team so it is much less likely that your product development becomes one of the 71% that fails due to poor requirement management.
Read more: Stop Confusing Agile Development with Product Development