Non-software business analysts

Based on your answer, does it really matter if a Business Analyst is assigned to a project for non-software or a software company?

I had a comment from Haig A. on my previous post and that prompted me to write about this whole software/non-software topic related to business analysts. While his comment wasn’t about this exact topic, it was a trigger. I already had a short remark on it in my previous post – “there is no such strict relationship” – so I decided to write a bit longer about how I see it.

Most of the times when people say business analyst, they mean one of the following roles:

  1. An analyst that will give them market, sales and product related reports and analysis
  2. an “IT” Business analyst, working on software projects, eliciting requirements and working as a liaison between business and the development team.

The first role is a completely different world from what I do as a business analyst, I am more the second type, even though the second description is not entirely correct.

Let’s look at what the IIBA says about business analysis – check out their site for more information beyond this quote:

Business Analysis is a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.
Business analysis is used to identify and articulate the need for change in how organizations work, and to facilitate that change.

Business analysts practice business analysis and it is clear from the definition above that it has nothing to do with software projects, even though the majority of business analysts work on or around software projects.

The reason for that is simple: the majority of changes in organisations these days involve software.

I had a discussion a few years ago with a business analyst who has never worked on any software projects in his life, he was working with construction companies, but doing business analyst  work.

And I am pretty sure that he is not the only one. Business analysts can work on projects completely unrelated to software development, and given that most of their skills are independent of technology or business domain they can be used quite widely even within the same organisation. There is absolutely no need to limit the use of your business analysts to the software projects.

Being a business analyst is about helping organisations to figure out what they need, why they need it, and how that need can be fulfilled.

It can be software, it can be change in a process, it can be branching out, it can be finding new markets, it can be a thousand things – but it can’t be boring.

2 thoughts on “Non-software business analysts

  1. Branding a business analyst IT or non-IT is like, brand a president, Asian country president and European country president.

    For me the core skills and tasks (plus techniques on your tool-kit) will remain the same irrespective of whether your business analysis work will result in a solution that is delivered using IT or not.

    Some domain knowledge (Industry, organization and solution knowledge) might change depending on the nature of solution, but good BA should be able to practice business analysis in both environments.

  2. I agree, exactly what I was writing.
    The business analyst is not really tied to IT and ” most of their skills are independent of technology or business domain”.

    But still, people do the labelling quite frequently, just look at the job descriptions. I wish it stopped, but hey, we can’t change the world in one go.

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