Importance of Leveraging Tools as a Business System Analyst


In the recent years everything has advanced starting from technology to processes to software methodologies and all these are linchpin to successful implementation for our clients. In order to keep pace with these advancements, everyone needs to work in the most efficient manner to increase throughput and automate as much as possible. Few examples to illustrate are the use of DevOPs to complement the agile method of delivery, using Scrum board for project management instead of traditional spreadsheets and so on.

In all these changes and improvements, the role of a Business System Analyst (BSA) has also evolved and moved away from the traditional days to a more nimble approach. One of the lodestars for BSA to be successful in these current times is to leverage tools to expedite the work and reduce manual errors during analysis. As BSAs’ we are fortunate enough to have access to plethora of tools in today’s world and if we can identify the appropriate ones, then the value add of the role increases manifold and our work can easily be intertwined  with other streams of work.  With the delivery process mostly moving to Agile comprising two to three weeks sprints, the different work-streams that a BSA engages in like requirement gathering, gap analysis ,documenting requirements, validating results needs to be performed relatively quickly and smartly to meet sprint goals and deadlines.  Needless to say manually doing the work takes time and there comes the important of different tools that BSAs’ can leverage to meet the goals.

Few scenarios’ and examples of how tools can be benevolent for a BSA to help the team are described here:

[A]. The most common task a BSA takes on is performing gap analysis at field level/file level as to identify gaps between current state and the proposed future state. The approach is to basically take data dictionary that exists today to compare fields in the current state versus what is contemplated in the future state and point out gaps The usual step is to take two spreadsheets, clean the data, organize it and then perform vlookups or index functions in excel to capture the mismatches. However, this process does require a bit of manual workaround to cleanse the data and standardize it before the analysis; also many times, the current state data dictionary may not exist in the best format. In such scenarios’ , an easier automated way could be to leverage power query feature in excel or use Power BI desktop to build a series of steps that would automatically cleanse the data and enable the comparison process to be carried out at ease without much manual intervention. Moreover, the query can be re-used in performing similar gap analysis for other datasets with minimal tweaks.

[B]. While writing User Interface requirements, a real type demo if explained to the different stakeholders like developers, testers, business users, etc. can be much more useful and expedite sign off rather than showing static mock –up screen requirements which may not holistically explain the workflow from one page to the other. Luckily nowadays a lot of UI prototyping tools exists in the market like Axure RP, Balsamiq, Justinmind which caters to the use case of enabling BSAs’ to build real interactions with screens and explain the navigation, workflow to stakeholders in a fairly easy manner. In an Agile environment, such type of methodologies can really expedite the delivery process and bring greater clarity and understanding of workflows which are of colossal importance in User Interface requirements

[C]. As the software methodology moves more towards Agile, one of the more important task that a BSA might need to perform  is validating the requirements; This definitely is not taking over the role of a tester or business validation, but more of ensuring that the end result is kind of aligned to the business requirements provided; it is more of the first layer of check and balance to give some quick feedback on how the end product is coming off and raise the flags in case of noticeable differences. In cases of Sprints, such quick feedback and review are of paramount importance ; To enable such validations, BSAs’ can develop quick SQL scripts or some quick code snippets in Python to accurate and expeditiously validate results rather than taking on a manual approach of delving through the data. Moreover if useful, such scripts could be shared with testers or business users to help them in their validation process

[D]. One of the vey important mandates for a business analyst is to keep documentation up to date or system requirements in sync with the updates that have transpired in the system; for example once a software product is developed from scratch, there is on-going maintenance or enhancement of the product. The updates to the base requirements need to be done by BSAs’ in the organization. One of the best tools to accomplish this is the use of Confluence. Confluence from Atlassian has some excellent features which can create blueprints/manual based on individual requirements and requirements can be updated using features in Confluence in an automated manner. In this manner, a BSA does not have to go in and manually update document after every release thus saving time and evading manual overhead

[E]. I think one of the best ways for a business analyst to express a story or require to end users/client is through a flow diagram or visual representation; the old adage goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed it is and often business users extremely appreciate a visual story of a requirement as it is easier for them to construe and understand the flow compared to reading documents for which they sometime do not have the time. IF BSAs’ can leverage Flow charts  through Visio, Power point and other tools that might sometimes help in explaining the big picture and also the details in a much efficient and expedited manner.

Above are some examples of how tools are becoming extremely important in today’s world for BSAs’; continuous learning and exploration of various tools are becoming indispensable to work efficiently and contribute towards the team success.  As more and more new technologies/tools arrive in the market, from a BSA perspective being able to appropriately understand and use them will not only emphasize the value of the BSA role, but also the force the change in mindset to align more towards the Agile way which is the common forte nowadays.

Author: Arighna Banaerjee, Business Analyst

Arighna BanaerjeeBusiness analyst  Lead with 12+ years’ experience in Financial Markets working in a variety of domains such as Banking, financial services and Asset Management. Throughout my career, I have tried to adapt to new processes, new technologies and embedding creativity in my work for the benevolence of  project and successful implementation; The old adage goes 'The only thing constant is change' and in these changing business analysis skills would also require updates and continuous learning to keep pace with the market.



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