The software development life cycle consists of several phases. Their number may vary depending on the project development methodology chosen by the vendor, however, none of them can be omitted if you expect a system of high quality. While it is clearly necessary to pay for the development itself, as its outcome is a workable software solution, many people are still surprised by the fact that other phases are also chargeable, especially when it comes to business analysis. After all, you do not receive a visible product out of this stage. However, it turns out that it is not business analysis that is expensive – it is rather the lack of a thorough analysis that may cost you up to twice as much as the primary cost of the application, not to mention the time involved. The business analysis stage allows the chosen software development company to understand your needs and to turn them into a solution. What exactly are you paying for?
Put simply, the main purpose of business analysis is for the software development company to investigate your requirements in order to offer the best possible solution. The analysis is conducted during the early stages of a project to prevent developers from building a system which does not suit your needs. It is important to mention that what you want is not always what you need, business analysts are qualified to differentiate the two by focusing on the problem and not on what the solution should look like. A broad knowledge of technology, in general, allows them to find new ways of overcoming the struggles your company is dealing with.
Not all software development companies offer business analysis services and it is sometimes necessary to outsource an individual to perform this operation and then translate your needs to the chosen vendor. At HeadChannel, we deliver an end-to-end solution where our analysts accompany you through the entire process and ensure the product meets your needs. To improve this phase, even more, I have prepared a short guide to what to pay attention to during the analysis, which you can find here.
With a business analyst on board, you maximise the project success. They identify new opportunities and, most importantly, help you save both money and time by correctly defining what you need and turning those needs into a powerful and user-friendly solution. The unique tasks a business analyst performs on a daily basis are:
1. Defining project scope
Preparing a project scope is necessary to ensure all of the parties are on the same page. The process includes listing and documenting specific project goals, costs and deadlines, responsibilities for each specialist involved in the project, as well as explaining the boundaries of the project and determining how the project will be approved and then released. Such a document helps the vendor to stay on track and you to easily follow the progress.
2. Gathering requirements
This is the most important task of a business analyst and the way it is performed determines whether the project will succeed or not. By trying to understand the problems your company is dealing with, as well as your business and the market in general, a business analyst is able to find a solution. This phase requires both logical and creative thinking, as the specialist needs to both listen to your requirements and determine whether they are actually what you truly need and if not, what is.
3. Understanding end-users
Your company may have the necessary experience and business knowledge but it is not enough to determine what end-users, that is your colleagues or customers, truly need. There are several ways in which a business analyst discovers user needs, habits and pain points, including individual interviews, observation, usability testing, etc. These techniques enable them to eliminate the risk of overseeing things that may be crucial to your project.
4. Translating key points to all sides of the project
Business analysts are often perceived as a communication bridge or a link between business stakeholders and software developers. Translating the needs of the first group and the technical jargon of the latter improves the communication flow but it, more importantly, ensures the high quality of the system. You may know your business environment but programmers may often have interesting ideas which can enrich your software even more. Business analysts make sure you understand each other.
5. Showing you the project
Telling you what the project should and could look like is one thing but presenting it in a visual way may often turn out to be a determining factor. Business analysts, often in cooperation with developers and UX designers, prepare basic mock-ups and wireframes to show you how they understand your vision. This way, you can provide the company with your feedback and thus be sure the product will meet your needs.
6. Managing any changes in the project
No matter how well the requirements gathering phase was performed at the beginning of the software life cycle, some modifications to the project may become necessary during the development. Business analysts manage these changes and make sure they can be easily implemented while keeping in mind the budget and the already existing features. The presence of a business analyst is especially required when the vendor follows the Agile methodology which assumes working in iterations and regularly releasing a working part of software which can then be edited.
TO SUM UP
After analysing all of the responsibilities of a business analyst, it turns out that business analysis is not that expensive. On the contrary, business analysis allows you to save both money and time by properly determining your needs and thus providing you with the right solution. This stage of the software development life cycle can be understood as an investment in the future of the system. The more thorough the business analysis, the more problems the solution solves. At the same time, business analysis eliminates the risk of project failure. What will you do with the money you have just saved?