Key qualities of business intelligence in IT

Good day.

A completely urgent, “vital” necessity was prompted to express our thoughts on the topic of this publication - the time is approaching when the need arises to seek / hire business analysts in the company’s staff (business in the field of automation of document management processes, control of executive discipline, etc.) D., in the "common people" - SED). All specialists of this profile, whose experience and competencies are known, in other words, those whom he knew and whom he saw useful for the company, are either already in a team or are also well-arranged. The problem is complicated by the fact that no matter how hard I try, it is not possible to formulate briefly and adequately competencies, features that this subject should possess. What personal qualities and talents should be displayed - which is also relevant, as I have been mentally prepared for to search for talented newcomers and try to “grow” them. I am sure that the reflections below will be useful for project managers, owners of small integrator-type IT companies, and business analysts themselves.

Terms and Definitions

First, the question is the term “business analyst” (hereinafter referred to as BA). Having lost hope of finding a universal definition of this term (Yandex and Google suggested that I was not alone in this) and in order not to go into a discussion about methodologies, classifications and GOSTs, for publication purposes I will define it in a very simple way: a business analyst is the same a guy ”(or a girl) who communicates with representatives of the Customer of the IT project (implementing a business application in particular), identifying, formalizing and documenting business requirements in such a magical way that the customer understands and agrees on the one hand, and on the other hand It does not cause heart attacks in the rest of the production (the project architect, and programmers, testers, support, coaches, etc.).

BA operation in the internal IT department

My understanding of the qualities and characteristics of Business Intelligence has been developing for 7 years. Starting after a university, a career in the internal IT department of a large trading company from the perspective of a business analyst came to a rather interesting conclusion that BA is just a kind of layer, a translator between business terms and developer terms. Well, it’s cool, of course, to learn how to use Rational or BPVA (in the extreme case, MS Visio), become a “little designer” to draw spectacular schemes that clearly demonstrate “as-is” and “to-be”. It is important to note that the feature of BA in internal IT is the absence of an acute need for specialization in any field (if you are not working in Gazprom), I mean the class of systems and processes: there wasn’t much difference - implement / develop ERP, ECM - please; Switch to CRM - no problem. I think that the reason is banal - inside the business (with the possible exception of mega-corporations, and complex production), knowledge of almost all processes and their understanding arises from the fact of the constant presence in the company. Therefore, at that time I agreed with the opinion and to everyone I could postulate that BA doesn’t matter what to implement, it doesn’t matter what to implement on.

Business Analyst in System Integrator

The opinion lasted two years, after which, after switching to the work of the same BA as an integrator introducing projects to large customers, it naturally began to change: new customers, new business processes, new interaction with different people who, which is very important, do not work with you in one company. In addition, the matrix structure of a large integrator company generates rotation of implementation teams, respectively, BA, as a link, on both sides (different customers, different teams within the integrator) is forced to interact with a very large number of new people. It became clear that without such a quality that I would call “unprecedented sociability”, there is nothing to do in the position of the BA. I emphasize that it’s not just sociability, but it’s unprecedented, because the people with whom you have to interact are completely different, in everything, and not always adequate. Therefore, such skills as “philosophy for dummies”, “confident knowledge of everyday and career psychology”, “anger management courses” and other abilities of this nature will be a good plus.

It becomes really important, including for the BA itself, such a project parameter as “deadlines” (if the integrator took care of a more or less adequate staff motivation system). Naturally, in this paradigm, the opinion that there is no need for specialization for a business analyst (in the industry and / or class of systems) becomes completely untenable: to quickly begin to navigate a new project with tight deadlines without significant experience and knowledge in the subject of automated business processes, and also in the architecture and features of the platform (summarizing the means used for automation) it is almost impossible, of course, with a reservation, if the quality of the project as a whole, and your work in particular, excites you. The need for the participation of one BA simultaneously in several projects (3-5 often) is another argument in favor of specialization.

View from the position of the project manager

After 1.5 years, taking the position of the Republic of Poland in the same company, we managed to look at the problems from the side. Having subordinate to 3 different business analysts, it became apparent, without exaggeration, the tremendous impact of the competencies of a business analyst on all parameters of projects:
  • The functional boundaries of the project - no comment.
  • Working atmosphere. As practice shows, usually the project team, albeit not in the open, for some reason considers business analytics to be the main culprit of all problems (well, except for RP naturally). The ability to prevent large “errors”, and most importantly the ability to adequately get out of the tense situation of mutual claims within the team, to smooth out conflicts, allows the BA to significantly increase the motivation of the entire group.
  • Project Dates. Often a stage, let’s call it “analysis” (survey, design), a substantial part of a project in terms of duration, on average 10-30%, which often cannot be put in parallel with other work on this project, even with great desire. Compliance with the term of this stage, which directly affects the duration of the entire project, almost entirely depends on the organization and competencies of the BA (or the leading BA or RP, if there are several of them in one project).
  • Solving organizational problems by facilitating communications. As a rule, a business analyst is better than anyone else familiar with and is trusted by the majority of employees at the customer. It is much easier to organize an interaction with the client’s employees without waiting for a formal escalation.
  • An irreplaceable resource during the project. I think that the change of the project manager during the project is among the top 5 main reasons for the appearance of low-quality projects in this area (with the exception of probably very typical projects). Change of business analytics during the project is probably on the next line of such a rating. To the argument about the need for high-quality documentation, I would answer this way: unfortunately you can’t document everything. In the project, in addition to understandable things, in the form of functional requirements, goals, task descriptions, the atmosphere, emotions, and “secret” customer expectations are very important. In principle, formalizing and transferring this to paper is far from always possible.
  • Acceptance of the project and its budget. Typically, in the practice of introducing on the market, the customer company in terms of revenue and other indicators is tens, hundreds of times larger than the implementing company. Elephant and Pug so to speak. Often, “Elephant” considers it quite acceptable to rely in such relations not only on documented agreements, but also on behind-the-scenes conversations, promises of “chips”, “goodies” that once seemed to him, but why they didn’t get into the documentation. Arguments of the form that “You are professionals, you should have taken this into account, we naturally could have missed something by coordinating hundreds of pages of documentation, but you personally promised me this” is quite sound, at least because he is “Elephant”, and You are a Pug, and somehow you need to hand over the project. Avoiding such situations is probably part of the so-called requirements and expectations management, and - one of the most important tasks of BA together with RP. The saddest thing is that, in my opinion, it is impossible to teach, in principle, this is a kind of art and talent, and of course experience.

View from the position of the employer

1.5 years of running projects as a business partner and part-time as an IT services seller led to the completely unexpected and strange idea of ​​opening your own business together with colleagues. After working for some time in the three roles of "Seller" - "RP" - "BA" on several projects (by the way a very effective, though not scalable business model), business analysts appeared in their own staff. In addition to assessing how RP, from the point of view of the business owner, I managed to notice some very important useful qualities of BA, because of which I sincerely consider professional (in my understanding) business analytics to be a resource that largely determines the success of a business in implementing business applications:

  • Strategic requirements management. At some point, we began to adhere to the paradigm in which we try to standardize by any means all our projects at the level of the architecture of the solution itself. The reason is trivial - the support and development of architecturally similar projects (naturally, they can function very differently functionally) is much simpler. To the extent that we consciously convince the customer of the need to adhere to certain “architectural principles”, even to the detriment of the size of the budget of the future project (the market often has a different approach: “anything for your money” going into, sometimes into unnecessary and strong customization to the requirements customers, often not very effective. Yes, the Pareto principle, etc. Excessive platform customization has a significant plus - you can explain and get a much larger budget, and a significant minus is the complexity of maintenance and development). The role of BA in such a strategic approach is actually key - only a mega professional business analyst is able to formalize the requirements in such a way that their implementation does not require significant “completion,” while convincing the customer that the formalized requirement is the idea of ​​the Customer himself.
  • Cross-selling and development solutions. A high-quality business analyst is one who will never miss, never forget the short phrases, trends, absorbed in the course of his interaction with the customer’s employees, which can be “untwisted”, get to the bottom and formulate a new need. Having on hand the signs of a real need, noticed precisely in the real work of the employees of a company, to sell a project to “close” such a need, against the background of a successful first project, is ridiculously simple (we don’t take into account the macroeconomics, we think that everyone has less money are available)


7 years of experience in the implementation of information systems, of course, does not claim to be the title "Veteran of Labor". Nevertheless, I am sure that the opinion formulated on the basis of such experience about the key qualities and advantages of professionals in the field of business analysis can more or less be regarded as objective. I do not argue that today the problem of finding high-quality specialists in many fields of activity is quite acute. Also, do not think that the purpose of the publication is an attempt to highlight roles in some activity that are more important than others - it is obvious that any high-quality specialist whose work is in demand is worth its weight in gold.

In my opinion, the peculiarity is that it is impossible to adequately formulate requirements for this specialty when searching, it is extremely difficult to predict the potential of a “novice” for this particular field, only after a year in the best case of active work will it be possible to judge the presence of potential. Graduates of university departments with the names “Business analytics” (even if they exist, and in terms of terminology this is consistent with practice) do not inspire trusting, as it’s even impossible to imagine what needs to be taught. Anyway - what should be the basic education of a business analyst? Technical, economic, humanitarian? Met quality representatives with the education of all three species.

Thanks for attention!

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