The role of the Business Analyst is crucial in scrutinizing and refining the operations within a team: let’s delve into their responsibilities.
A key step in ensuring the viability of projects, business concepts, or even entire organizations is to maintain absolute oversight of the “business numbers.” This is essential because numbers (and the data associated with them) are the tools that facilitate the scientific and meticulous tracking and cataloging of all pertinent information. Regrettably, in practice, it is often the case that clients lack a comprehensive understanding and control over the numbers, and consequently, the processes of their businesses.
How does one accurately track a process, then? What is the correct approach to making strategic and operational decisions in a dispassionate and objective manner, uninfluenced by external elements, biases, and emotional choices?
The answer lies in the expertise of a Business Analyst (BA), a role that, until now, has not been emphasized, but is increasingly sought after and is a core component of the Hermes team. The primary benefit of having a BA as part of the team is their ability to synthesize data, numbers, statistics, KPIs, and numerous other micro and macro factors into a clear and quantifiable assessment of potential improvement opportunities. This is applicable both to a large-scale business process, such as the assembly line in an car manufacturing plant, and to a segment of a broader process, like software development.
Lean Thinking: how to remove disturbing elements
To fully appreciate the value of the Business Analyst, it is necessary to first take a step back and consider the principles of “Lean Thinking”, which seeks to identify and eliminate any possible redundancies and waste within processes and procedures. This optimization philosophy is derived from the TPS (Toyota Production System) and has been adapted across various sectors to serve as a valuable blueprint for the efficient management of any project.
Its core value lies in the identification and subsequent elimination of process “disturbances,” those elements that hinder efficiency and delay the achievement of the end goal. In the lexicon of process optimization, these disturbances are categorized and identified as MUDA (wastefulness), MURA (irregularity), or MURI (overburden).
We now turn our attention to the concept of “MUDA” (originally a term from Japanese meaning “dishonor”), the pivotal aspects of which are:
– T (Transportation) – Wastage resulting from transportation methods
– I (Inventory) – Wastage in inventory management
– M (Motion) – Wastage in movement
– W (Waiting) – Inefficiencies in waiting periods
– O (Overproduction) – Surplus of production not in demand
– O (Overprocessing) – Excessive processing on products
– D (Defects) – Excessive scrap from manufacturing due to defects in the final product
Recently, an additional category labeled S (Skills) has been recognized, which denotes the risks associated with the misallocation or improper deployment of a resource on tasks that do not match their skill set.
The Business Analyst role
The value of a Business Analyst’s work and presence is manifested in their adeptness at comprehensively analyzing each of these aspects, to provide a lucid overview of potential bottlenecks within current processes to those in positions of decision-making and management. Additionally, BAs have the foresight to estimate the cost implications of implementing specific changes, given that the initial challenge to overcome is always the feasibility of every proposed enhancement.
Moreover, adopting an Agile methodology facilitates retrospective evaluations of suggested changes. This approach allows for continuous refinement of both processes and end products, enhancing overall effectiveness and efficiency.
Problems and Solutions
A prototypical instance illustrating the pivotal nature of the Business Analyst’s role surfaces when a client expresses dissatisfaction with the prolonged delivery time from developers: the resolution is entrusted to the BA, who embarks on a diagnostic sprint to ascertain the dysfunctional elements and potential optimizations.
In this particular scenario, one of the strategies the BA might employ is to meticulously measure the time each team member dedicates to various phases and tasks, thereby identifying and pinpointing potential hiccups and delays. Should the BA discover, for instance, that testing consumes 50% of the time, it becomes imperative to reevaluate their true utility and consider a process restructuring.
However, if such time-intensive tests are deemed essential to meet the client’s stipulated quality benchmarks, it necessitates a reassessment. Identifying the cause does not immediately translate to an enhancement in team performance without first reconfiguring the underlying variables of the work-time “equation.”
Thus, the Business Analyst’s ultimate proposition could entail a revision of the entire process itself. They might suggest, for example, the elimination of superfluous tests, enabling time conservation (through a reduction in the number of tests) without compromising the integrity and outcomes of the final product. In this way, indirect assessment of various factors could still be accomplished through fewer tests.
This approach also extends an advantage to the client, who, upon being briefed about the modifications, may recognize the value of expedited delivery for a product that, albeit subjected to less testing, retains its high-quality standard.
Ultimately, the client reserves the right to decline alterations to the process, opting to maintain the status quo. Nevertheless, a solution aimed at enhancing the team’s efficiency, without detriment or undue pressure—especially when the team’s performance is already exemplary—is proffered.
The crux of the matter, however, is that each analysis, proposition, and adjustment is grounded in objective data. It is only through this empirical foundation that the most effective operational strategy can be discerned.Consequently, the Business Analyst, synonymous with the Scrum Master in an Agile team, emerges as a pivotal figure in every software development project. While not directly engaged in programming, their contribution is invaluable in steering the team toward solutions that are swift, viable, and efficacious.