Business analysts belong in every part of your organization. They can streamline your human resources department and help your sales team drive new leads. When business analysts are brought in to improve production, they leave no stone unturned.
More companies than ever are finding value in bringing BAs into client projects and using their skills to assist with day-to-day operations. Here is the value that business analysts can bring to your team to streamline operations and production.
Business Analysts Improve Operational Productivity
Business analysts bring value to any team they’re on. They immediately start to dig into the processes of various departments and projects to make sure everything is functioning at its best.
The core goal of business analysts from an operations standpoint is productivity. Michael Mankins, coauthor of “Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power,” emphasizes the importance of productivity over efficiency. He defines efficiency as “doing more with less,” and productivity as “doing more with the same.”
So many companies have an efficiency mindset that they are always looking to cut something somewhere, usually targeting the workforce first. The result is teams that cling dearly to resources and operate on shoestring budgets. Strategic executives and business analysts will focus on doing more with what they have, streamlining operations and reducing waste. Instead of cutting, they are maximizing.
To achieve this productivity growth, most business analysts start by asking questions. Dana McInnis, continuous improvement and business analysis coach, encourages business analysts to ask fundamental questions to get to the core of the issue. She even calls these questions “Captain Obvious” moments because they seem basic at the moment, but can be used to really understand what is going on.
For example, “what does that mean?” forces people to define basic terms and processes, which can get everyone on the same page. When everyone is working with the same definitions, they can move forward toward a common goal.
Digital marketing manager Dustin Heathers says business analysts set the culture within a development team. It is their job to make sure everyone is working toward the same objective and with the same process in mind. With the right culture, business analysts can instill a mentality of continuous improvement and growth.
This may be hard when first introduced to a team (some employees might not want a business analyst “interfering” with their work), but over time the employees can work together to produce a strong result.
Business Analysts Need to Prove Their Value to the Operations Team
One of the main barriers to adding business analysts to the operations department is perceived cost. Management wants to make sure that the investment in the salary or contract is worthwhile and will genuinely help the company.
“While some companies still believe that BAs are an added cost, they actually do the opposite and help reduce company costs through increasing its ROI and lowering project costs,” writes recruiter Ben Fisher. “BAs are specialists of change, as they introduce, manage, and facilitate the necessary changes to your business model.”
Business analysts can define their value and turn seemingly immeasurable benefits into tangible results, says BA trainer Jamie Champagne. She uses the example of a company that wants fewer change requests on infrastructure projects. While limiting the number of requests can actually backfire (teams can take longer and overthink their work to prevent errors), business analysts can look at why there are so many change requests and what the overall review process looks like. This gets to the root of the issue. The result is that more projects are completed on time, which has a tangible revenue benefit to organizations.
Not only do business analysts need to prove their value to their employers, they also need to earn the respect of their peers.
“People do not want you on their team just because you are a business analyst,” writes Kent McDonald, product manager and founder of KBPMedia. He says that many companies have rules in place that a business analyst needs to be part of the team. However, BAs who do not provide value will likely be ignored with their role minimized.
It is up to business analysts to drive value to create a seat for themselves at the table.
Business Analysts are Problem Solvers by Nature
The good news is that business analysts quickly prove their value to operations teams by asking questions, identifying problems and finding ways to solve them.
Take business process analysts, for instance, who focus on process details and workflow optimization. Owen McGab Enaohwo, CEO of SweetProcess, a web app that documents standard operating procedures, lists several benefits of involving business process analysts within your overall operations. These include:
Customer demands are met better and faster.
Business goals are reached more efficiently.
The company's overall performance is improved.
Root causes of problems within the organization are addressed.
It is entirely possible that your company has managed to “get by” for years on weak processes or with wasted resources. Business process analysts can jump in and identify these problems and then work with teams to solve them.
While some employees might think business analysts are nosy, it is actually in their nature (and, frankly, in their job description) to dig deep into what is going on and why operations are being done in a certain way.
“How would a treasure hunter go about looking for gold in the Pacific Ocean?” asks Piyanka Jain, CEO of data science consulting firm Aryng. “They start by being a detective, using the knowledge of shipwrecks, trade routes, ocean depths and more to identify the most likely spots for finding the treasure.”
She uses this metaphor to explain that analysts are curious and hypothesis-driven. They explore theories and follow their research to see where they can improve operations. If they are skillful, they can strike gold and find a way to significantly increase productivity.
Business Analysts Drive Value By Wearing Many Hats
It is not uncommon for business analysts to float throughout a company, starting in one department and moving through various other parts of the operational process. Additionally, they use their in-demand skills to take on work where it is needed — even if it isn’t immediately part of their job description.
“Depending on the organization, a BA’s job description could extend them to other areas of the company that needs business analysis support,” writes Henok Tekle, founding partner at multi-stage investment firm Alphachain. “As a business analyst, you may need to get involved in all levels of the organization, and being able to self-manage in this ambiguous setting can go a long way.”
For example, quality analyst at Skyline Technologies Tim Morrow says he has served his team as a scrum master, a traditional business analyst (where he reviewed requirements and worked on the backlog of tasks to maximize business value) and as a product owner. He has the skills to take on different roles, but uses his expertise as a BA to drive his decisions within the organization.
Other experts within the business analyst field agree with this. Adrian Reed, director of Blackmetric Business Solutions, says “there isn’t a single, perfect BA role to which we should all aspire.”
Instead, the role of business analysts within an operations team is expanding to make sure company initiatives align with organizational goals and that organizations are keeping up with industry trends. BAs are needed in inward-facing and outward-facing capacities.
Every Operations Team Will be Data and Analysis-Driven
The more business analysts prove their value within the operations team (and the more their employers recognize this value), the better off companies will be. Data and organizational analysis is no longer limited to tech companies and IT departments. Every operations team uses data at least to some extent.
“Organizations produce more data than ever before,” explains Penny Pullan, Ph.D., director of Making Projects Work. “Many are drowning in it! Those who are able to draw insights from these data and to use data to tell stories, are much in demand and there are many business analysts who specialise and are very skilled in this area.”
SaaS companies and brands that rely on technology to function are turning to business analysts for help. This is why many BAs are stepping out of the IT department and joining the production team.
“Global businesses are facing increasing complexity and market volatility,” writes Hugo Moreno, editorial director at Forbes Insights. “In response, all business functions are turning to data-driven analytics and insights as a means to manage this increasing uncertainty.”
Every company is becoming a data company and a technology company at least in some capacity. This means that business analysts need to prove that they are the future of companies entering the digital world. They are ready to handle the changes and make sure their employers are using their resources to their fullest potential.
“The career growth prospectus for Business Analysts depends on their ability to adapt alongside the digital disruption,” the team at GetSmarter writes. “They will be required to enhance their interpersonal skills as complexities and uncertainties emerge, and have technical skills sufficient enough to ensure holistic business operations and functional implementation.”
Your company needs business analysts who can jump in and make a difference in just a few months. Teams and leaders who welcome these professionals their operations teams can watch their productivity grow while becoming more resilient to changes in the industry.