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What is a Business Analyst's Role in Software Development?

Business analysis is an integral part of any software development process. At its most basic, a business analyst's role in software development is to ensure that software is fit for a specific business purpose. In doing so, analysts ensure that delivered applications will generate a return on investment.

The Business Analysts Role in Software Development Explained

Imagine you own a hotel. With 80% of hotel bookings originating online, you know that you need an easy to use online reservation portal. What you might have trouble with, is defining the full scope of your project.

Will your reservation portal link with popular third-party booking channels? Will bookings go live immediately on your existing in-house reservation system? If so, are you sure that it is possible to integrate software tools you use already with third-party applications?

A business analyst's role in software development is to essentially define the full scope of a project.

- Business analysis sees analysts research business processes, core goals, competitors, and current market trends.

- Analysts meticulously detail the functional requirements of a new piece of software.

- Business analysts take input from every business department and individual who will be affected by a new software product.

After completing their research, a business analyst will create a formal specification document. They will then present this to business stakeholders for approval. If stakeholders approve this document, the business analyst's role in software development then becomes one of formally initiating development.

The Software Development Initiation Process

Once business stakeholders sign off on project specification outlines, business analysts present specification documents to developers. Analysts also make themselves available to answer questions and clarify the scope of a project if necessary.

- It is the responsibility of a business analyst to ensure that developers understand the full scope of a project.

- Software development should only start when developers agree that it is possible to deliver a product in-line with terms agreed in specification documents.

- If business expectations are beyond what is technologically achievable, developers will advise analysts. It will then become their duty to review specification documents accordingly.

A Business Analysts Role in Software Implementation

Typically, the role of a business analyst is to use business process analysis to specify the scope of a new software project. Analysts research competitors, implementation costs, and the latest relevant software tech trends.

The need for business process analysis ends with the preparation of a formal specification document. Because of this, business analysts aren’t usually involved with the development or implementation of new software solutions. However, it can be a good idea to retain analysts throughout development cycles.

- Retaining a business analyst allows businesses and developers to navigate technology constraints which might manifest mid-way through a development cycle.

- Keeping analysts involved throughout the development process, allows businesses to quickly implement solutions to new needs and requirements.

It can also be a good idea to retain a business analyst and have them take a lead role in software testing after development. This will help ensure that delivered software is capable of achieving goals initially set out in project specification documents.

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