Top 5 Challenges Faced By Business Analysts
Business Analysis discipline is fairly broad and thus the roles & responsibilities of a business analyst are wide-ranging. A business analyst has to get involved at various stages of system development and interact with stakeholders across different functions having varied roles, interests and influence over the scheme of things. He/she has to manage the complete lifecycle of requirements and ensure that all relevant stakeholders reach consensus on the requirements so that desired business goals can be achieved. Getting your CBAP certification is an important benchmark for boosting your skills and becoming a sought-after business analyst. Become the best at what you do by enrolling in Techcanvass’s comprehensive CBAP Training Program and ECBA Training.
It goes without saying that the role of a business analyst has its fair amount of challenges considering the breadth and depth of tasks that he/she has to perform. The path to success of a business analyst is, therefore, filled with some obstacles or challenges with a few mentioned below.
New Assignment – New Set of Expectations – New Knowledge & Skills
Role of a business analyst differs to a certain extent (sometimes large) in each project/assignment. Hence, it becomes the need of the hour for a business analyst to understand the knowledge to be gained and skills to be acquired to meet the expectations of the role. As required, a business analyst needs to obtain knowledge from the business domain/processes aspect and might be expected to acquire technical knowledge to create effective requirements. It therefore becomes challenging for a business analyst who does not have prior knowledge in an area to attain knowledge to a level where he/she can solve a business problem and engineer requirements effectively.
Possible Solution – To gain generic industry and business knowledge, business analysts can search content on the relevant domain on the web or connect with peers working in the same domain. He/she can connect with the subject matter experts within the project to get know-how of specific business processes or go through the available project documentation. Understanding technical aspects depend on an individual’s ability considering many business analysts struggle in acquiring technical skills. Hence, he/she can try to gather as much knowledge as possible from technical standpoint and request management to assign a technical team member to assist where deeper dive is needed for technical analysis.
Lack of required and up-to-date process/system documentation
In order to thoroughly understand the business process, existing IT landscape, systems functionalities, integrations and many other aspects affecting the project in question, business analysts need to get hold of existing documentation. This is needed to obtain deep understanding of all impacting as well as impacted areas to be able to perform requirements elicitation & analysis effectively and ensure no critical areas are missed. One of the common challenges faced by a business analyst here is that there is not enough documentation or is not up to date in nature thereby increasing possibilities of inaccurate and incomplete requirements.
Possible Solution – Business analysts may make use of observation (job shadowing) techniques to understand the existing processes and system features. He/she may examine the work activities being performed to understand the process. This will help in gaining realistic and practical insight about the activities within the overall process and understanding the system functionalities in use. Moreover, he/she may identify people who have been in the scheme of things for a sizable amount of time and request for their time to impart required knowledge. If possible, business analysts should create the necessary process/system documents and keep them updated for future reference.
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Changing Business Needs/Requirements
More often than not, business analysts have come across situations where business stakeholders have asked for changes in requirements even after requirements have been finalized and signed off. This is one of the most common challenges in the sense that it can occur not just once but several times, even for the same requirement. Such changes are likely to affect business analysis effort as well as the overall project effort, cost and timelines. Though there are methodologies like Agile that embrace change, there reaches a stage when a change in the implementation cycle can impact the delivery process. Hence, business analysts and other key stakeholders need to analyze the best way in which the change can be incorporated in the best way possible.
Possible Solution – Business analysts may first carry out a detailed impact analysis that encompass reason for the requirement change, its priority and impact on timelines, cost and other future deliverables. There may be various ways in which the change can be incorporated depending on various factors with the below being a few generic ones –
- If the change is highly business critical (regulatory/ legal/compliance etc.) then it needs to be incorporated within the overall plan with the current release/iteration date shifted accordingly.
- If the change is not of high priority then the current release/iteration can go as per scheduled plan with the change planned to be incorporated in the next release/iteration.
Moreover, business analysts may do more investigation on the reason for the requirement change and work on identifying and possibly resolving the root cause. An example of a cause of requirement change is missing key stakeholders in the requirements elicitation process.
Inadequate Stakeholder Involvement
There may be situations where multiple stakeholders are involved in the requirements creation process. It may occur that some key business stakeholders who are important decision makers on business & solution requirements have availability issues and miss requirement sessions. They are not in sync with the latest requirements, leading to multi-fold issues. Either they are not able to provide their view effectively in the requirements discussions in which they participate thereafter or they open few requirement items that have already been discussed and closed in their absence. This inconsistent and inadequate stakeholder involvement pose challenges to business analyst in finalizing requirements.
Possible Solution – Business analyst may capture the requirement discussions, especially key decisions taken, in the form of meeting minutes and send it to all stakeholders. He/she may request all absentees to go through the key discussion items before the next planned requirements sessions. This will help in minimizing the chances of misunderstanding and reopening of requirement items which have been closed unless if some stakeholder have specific concerns/issues on closed requirements. In case of online discussions, business analyst may record the session and send it to absentees so that they can go through it and get conversant with the latest happenings.
In multi-stakeholder scenarios, there is a high likelihood of conflict among stakeholders belonging to two different functions/teams/departments when a requirement or set of requirements affect both of them. The conflict can arise due to various factors such as what changes should be made in the overall process, which requirements are needed, how the requirements should be prioritized, which solution approach works the best, which tools/technologies should be harnessed, and possibly many other aspects.
Possible Solution – Business analyst has to play a facilitator and negotiator here to ensure that conflict is resolved and the most fitted decision taken with mutual agreement. He/she can present an opportunity to all parties to share their thoughts/views thereby making them feel that they have been given a fair chance. Then, backed by proper analysis, business analyst may suggest pros and cons of each specific viewpoint with transparency. This will enable all stakeholders to reach an agreement on which perspective will serve the purpose better and yield superior results.
Here’s inviting comments from the business analysis community to share the challenges you have faced in your business analysis career and the measures that you took to address them.
About The Author
Techcanvass is an Information Technology Certifications training Organization for professionals. It offers internationally recognized certifications in the fields of Project Management and Business Analysis. It is a premier Authorized training partner of Project Management Institute (PMI), USA and a premier Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) of International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), Canada. Founded by IT professionals, Techcanvass is committed to make learning a more structured, practical and goal-oriented exercise. We also provide consulting services in the fields of Project management and Business Analysis. Techcanvass provides PMP Certification Course, CBAP Course, CCBA Course, ECBA Course and Agile Analysis Certification (AAC) Course.
About the Author:
Chetan Sharma is a professional digital marketer and blogger at heart. He owns multiple educational blogs like HSSLIVE and many others.