Limitations in role of a System Analyst
In the ever changing and fast paced of Information technology, the role of Business Analyst is seen as emerging trend across its various functions.In the past organizations faced varying degrees of challenges trying to deal with a multi-disciplinary technology focused team. When a solution was to be drafted, it was observed that the technology focused team was not fully equipped to understand the business side challenges or the problems. Due to this serious shortcomings in the recommended solution arose during the design and implementation phase of projects.
Several questions about the limitations of the skills of the professionals arose, amongst the more pertinent ones are:
How does the role of Business Analyst add value to the organization?
What are the limitations of a Systems Analyst?
What a Business Analyst can do and what System Analyst cannot do.
Why a Business Analyst with few additional skills can deliver value rather than a Technology-role that most of the time waste money in doing a large projectthatdoes not add value to business.
Typical System Analyst Role
Before we discuss the role of a Business Analyst, wehave to first agree/settle on what a typical role of a technology-focused (systems) Analyst is and what are the actual limitations of his role
Suppose – We have a good Software development team of a reasonable size. This team has the ability to develop and write complex codeand produce difficult applications, for a diverse range of customers coming from a broad spectrum of the industry.
The Customer explains his/herprimary objectives the application is going to fulfill to the Software development team.ThisSW-Dev-Team workshard for the designated time period and develops the softwarethat does not completely satisfy customer or comply with his business needs.
Customer says – “You did not understand our requirements. This software does not fulfill ourbusiness needs”. SW-Dev-Team put all their sincere efforts but the output is not acceptable to customer. Is there something wrong with this approach?
There are few things that Software Engineers (Software Experts) have learned in last 10-15 years by their experience in the IT industry or experience with customers. They understand that the role must have skills of social sciences (communication & people handling) coupled with that ofcomputer science (requirement engineering). Following are some observations.
1- Customer cannot tell what they need
Customers can tell what their problem is, and express their superficial desire against that problem but they cannot tell what (solution) will solve their problem. ASystems Analyst is a technology-focused person. “Tell us what you need; wewill develop a solution for you”. This is a typical approach of a Systems Analyst.
There must be a ROLE thatcan dig deep-into the customer’s need. The word elicitation has replaced requirements these days. BA (hereafter use for Business Analyst) is responsible for eliciting the actual needs of stakeholders, not simply their expressed desires. In many cases, the BA will also work to facilitate communication between organizational units. Systems Analyst approach is more on the lines of Requirement-perspective. Whereasthe new ROLE demands that requirements should be from a Solution-perspective. Solution perspective means that all requirements must be aligned with (business) need.
2- Requirements are Complex and multi-dimensional
Second problem is requirements are not simple anymore as it used to be 10 years ago.“You tell us we will develop solution for you”.Requirements are complex and multi-dimension. You just cannot focus on features and functionality explained by users. That is only ONE component of requirement. Other components of any solutions could be
People (who are running the software)
Process (that will be automated through this Software)
Environment under which this Software will be executed
Infrastructure required for this Software(networking, server, etc)
User Interface (desktop, Internet, Smart Phone)
Software interface with existing software or Hardware
It is very important to have right solution scope against a business need. That solution must address all the components.
3- Requirement development Process is human and communication intensive
Taking requirement is
If you are weak in these two skills, perhaps you cannot handle customer and your development teams. Possibility is you cannot get complete and stable requirements. Whoever is taking requirements must have strong skills in both. These skills are social science. That means system analyst must learn social sciences as well for this role.
4- Cannot communicate effectively without understanding business
Last point is Business Knowledge. It is very difficult for computer science graduate to focus on business problem. For a Systems Analyst, it is difficult to understand business terminologies, because ofhis/her technology background. You cannot communicate when somebody is speaking different language (Business) than yours (technology). You have to speak business language.
Software industry has realized, anybody who is collecting business requirements needs to understand business domain well. BA must be knowledgeable in that domain; he/she can interact with users in their terminology.