More BA-ng for Your Buck: The Value of a Business Analyst

Nov 21, 2018 by Theresa Fruner

There's more to an app than development.

When you think of creating an app, you think of developers, right? If you want a new application, someone has to make it. But in the world of custom application development, creating an app requires a team of more than just developers—because there’s more to an effective application than just development.

Specifically? You need a Business Analyst (BA) on your team. And, yes, that’s a need.

Because they aren’t the ones writing the code and designing the program, it can be hard to see the value of having a BA on the project team. You may think, “Oh, well, we just need the app to do what the last one did, so there‘s no need to document requirements.”

But whether working from scratch, rewriting an old system or revamping an existing one, application development is the same: You take the intangible needs of the client and turn them a tangible app. And understanding those intangible needs is where a BA comes in.

Project with and without a BA

Although often overlooked, BAs are the fuel of an application’s development, working to both thoroughly comprehend and effectively communicate a customer’s needs (i.e., the app’s requirements). Think of them like a translator: In the sphere of application development, a BA has a unique bilingualism in both the wants of the customer and the technical concepts of development.

Without a BA

Without precise transfer of information, especially at the beginning of the process—you risk having a development process fraught with miscommunication, which will mean a plethora of rewrites that draw out the project timeline, thin the company checkbook and ultimately produce an ill-designed application.

With a BA

On the other hand, the application is developed with accuracy and efficiency.

Accuracy

Think of application development like building a house. If you originally plan to build a one-story home but then realize it needs to be two stories with a basement, your one-story home won’t have the proper foundation in place to support the structure.

Like a house, apps need a proper foundation, and adjustments after an application has been developed can be like adding stories to a house. Ultimately, building atop the wrong foundation will produce an ill-designed app.

Placing a BA on the team, however, will make sure those expectations are clear early on, not the end: At the beginning of the development process, the BA is able to whittle down conversations with the customer into succinct requirements for the developers, oftentimes also sniffing out requirements that may not be obvious in early discussions of the application. And the documented requirements the BA puts together at the beginning of are also the most comprehensive and accurate way to engage in quality assurance testing after the application is finished.

Efficiency

Plain and simple: Efficiency in communication is efficiency in development—is efficiency in completion. Nimble navigation of the project expectations from the start ensures the development timeline is streamlined.

Once the application development begins, the BA is perhaps even more necessary. They become not just a translator, but a liaison who can select the most efficient way to communicate developer complications to the customer and quickly answer developer questions. And while, in truth, business analysis doesn’t necessarily need to be filled specifically by a Business Analyst, a BA, specifically, will bring the most adept experience and skillset to the liaison role.

Conclusion

Sure—having a BA on the project team will seem like more money up front. But ultimately it’s a money-(and frustration-) saving decision. Inefficient development from miscommunicated needs will only prolong the amount of time and money spent on the application.

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