What happens when the BA and UX worlds collide?


BA and UX Worlds CollideAre you a Business Analyst (BA) wondering what User Experience (UX) Design is all about and how your involvement in a design project is likely to impact your usual role? If so, I’ve also been pondering the same question for some time. 

When I joined the technology consultancy 6point6, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have a function solely dedicated to the understanding and delivery of an excellent user experience across their digital transformation offering. I was excited at the prospect of an opportunity to learn about UX Design and keen to roll up my sleeves and get involved. 

At the start of the project, it initially felt like unknown territory, so I began by researching the basics. I found that UX relates only to the user’s experience with technology touchpoints for a product (or service) and that the customer experience (CX) encompasses UX design and spans the end-to-end interactions between the customer and organisation as a whole. 

So how do 6point6 interpret and implement UX design?

Our Experience Design Director, Gavin Edmonds, recently published an article with the Professional Services Marketing Group (PSMG) which portrays how to stay relevant in digital transformation journeys. Gavin has set a clear design strategy for 6point6 and has stated that “There’s only one place for the end-user – and that’s centre stage”. This inverts the traditional approach of newly introduced IT leading business initiatives thinking of the end-user last and often unhappily following, to now being laser-focused on customer needs right from the outset.

At 6point6, we have a strong UX culture, along with a three-point strategy to help clients balance their business objectives against user needs, to realise the value of user-led change. The strategic objectives are: 

1.  engage with the customer to listen and understand what they want


2.  use the information captured from the customer to build a vision for their new digital offering and shape a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

3.  bring the vision to life by developing design principles and prototypes to enable implementation of the digital change

How does this approach improve experiences for end-users?

Psychology and emotion play a big part in any UX journey. To support any transformation, we need to begin by looking at user experiences, empathising with pain points and alleviating them. 

We can all think of a time where our personal experiences as a customer have been unpleasant; we’ve called into the bank and have been passed around as our often complex needs are pigeon-holed into siloed departments, we’ve waited hours at the doctors surgery when we should have been at work, and have bitterly waited in all day for that parcel that never arrived. Such experiences understandably irritate us and cause unnecessary stress.

While in contrast, a good or excellent customer experience leaves us with a positive lasting impression, prompting us to recommend companies and their products to our family and friends. We need to applaud the ‘delighters’ and ‘satisfiers’ and keep them in mind just as much as the frustrations to keep existing customers happy and attract new ones. 

How can we delight and retain customers?

A big factor that supports a fulfilling customer experience is personalisation. Adults and teenagers alike are benefiting from content tailored to their preferences in the world of digital technology. In the same way that we were attracted to keyrings and sticks of rock with our names on as children during visits to the coast, personalisation can still be just as enticing. From picking a personal image to print onto our debit card to receiving playlist suggestions on our music libraries or even choosing a bottle of Coca-cola with our name on the label; many of us still love the option of adding a personal touch to our purchases to feel special and distinct from other customers. Personalisation increases our enjoyment of a product and provides us with new experiences that we may never have found otherwise. More importantly, from a business perspective, it keeps us wanting more and engaged over the long term. 

International giants like Spotify and Amazon are leading examples of successful personalisation in technology and are constantly analysing our purchasing history and patterns to enhance our interactions with their offerings, and let’s be honest, these small things go a long way in terms of our customer loyalty, which in turn, contributes to their worldwide success. 

So is there still room for the BA in the UX world?

My previous involvement in customer experience projects has been limited to user journey analysis and the elicitation of lone requirements such as accessibility considerations for users with additional needs, and usability requirements to ensure that a product is easy to use. 

In hindsight, all this solid analysis work should be very much continued, although this approach in isolation is nowhere near holistic enough. As BAs, we need to hone in on the emotive aspects between the customer and the product, from the very start of the journey to the very end. This approach is particularly imperative when bringing a brand new product to market. 

Here are some tips for BAs in a design project: 

  1. Although they are vitally important, don’t just focus on the pain points. Also give thought to the satisfiers and delighters that the product can bring. 
  2. Don’t just think about the process from the end user’s perspective, think about everyone involved in the journey. How are they positively and negatively impacted? 
  3. Where it's available, always work backwards from customer feedback. If no facility is in place to collect feedback, suggest ways to capture it. Think of new and interesting ways to engage with your target audience and invite them to share their invaluable thoughts with you. Depending on the product type, this could be through user research sessions, hackathons, innovation labs, a feedback section on a website, or even the installation of HappyOrNot feedback devices where customers are accessing services in person. 
  4. Ensure that you fully understand the project subject matter and business objectives.
  5. Know the roles involved; The UX Designer brings the voice of the user into their designs, the BA aims to bridge any gaps between the user, business and design team to support the new experience and the Developer builds the final artefact that the user interacts with.
  6. Your analysis work will also inform the selection of the most appropriate wording, images and information for the designs. On a digital project, if you are working alongside a UX Designer, let your analysis be led by them. It’s more efficient to provide analysis when you understand their vision.  

When I started my first real UX design journey I was armed with years of BA experience and was very eager to learn about this new world and how it was likely to collide with my own. I was relieved to find that I can clearly see the value of UX design and that BAs absolutely have a place in this world.

I personally have a new-found awareness and respect for the function and a strong desire to support all such efforts to bring about successful digital transformation.   

Author: Lisa Hudson, Head of Business Analysis, 6point6

Lisa Hudson is a UK based IT professional with 16 years experience in IT across the Technology, Finance and Education sectors. Lisa is a firm advocate for Business Analysis and continually strives to demonstrate the value of the BA role. Lisa is the Head of Business Analysis at 6point6. 

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LDO posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 4:50 AM
Hi Lisa

I was always taught to cover UX in the non- functional requirements; Ease of Use and Usability, which is pretty broad brush. I think the BA has a definitive place in UX by providing such requirements, which might be more than written statements and include mockups, wireframes and prototypes. Its as much about navigation of a work experience as it is about how things look and where they are positioned. Often I see the design phase completed as part of software development and this very much constrained by what the software is being developed in and how that interface looks.

Like you, I have focused on the User Journey to begin design work. Listening out to what the user would like or expect and where they spend most time doing their work e.g. a particular form or procedure.

UX design as you've mentioned is very subjective and usually causes great debate of how best or whats best to do. A good UX person is a valued asset, but how long they are good for, is another thing. Like all creatives, ideas just become the norm or dry up then you need to seek someone with new inspiration. Look to the Gaming world for excellence is designing the best user interfaces and just wait for what virtual reality can bring us.

Good article, enjoyed it
LisaMex posted on Sunday, August 25, 2019 7:58 AM
Thanks for taking the time to comment @Petera01, totally agree with you. The gaming world is an excellent point!
Lisa Hudson
George Ludgate posted on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 3:59 PM
Today a Business Analyst should be doing just that; analyzing the business and modeling it for the business to understand what they do. This is often accomplished with process models. Once the process model(s) have been decided upon the first design step is for the business SMEs and IT-Architects to decide what part of each business task (on the process model) is to be automated and which is to be made manual. Once this is decided the flow of information between humans and computers is fixed. Now UX people can get involved and draw up a GUI (or any other human-computer-interfaces) which meet the requirements of 1) the flows of data specified, 2) the process flow. The two roles dont even need to be involved with each other.
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