What is one of the hottest roles in IT? What is the role that is in demand and will play a critical role in the future?
I believe it is the business analyst.
But not the type of business analyst we have today. That type of business analyst was a junior position in IT. The one responsible for gathering requirements from their business peers. The one focused on building application solutions and contributing to projects. The role provided an entry point for new hires into IT.
I started my career in IT as a business analyst in part because a business analysts did not have to be a technician, they could learn the technology while working with the business. Methodologies and IT processes supported this type of business analyst by defining formats, tools and techniques for requirements gathering and analysis.
This type of business analyst is still required, particularly in consulting and service provider organizations where the focus is on implementing new solutions. That role is diminishing in captive IT organizations that need greater experience, knowledge and context to create value in today’s complex, cost conscious and cycle time driven world.
CIOs are rebuilding the business analyst role, not as an entry point for new hires but a leverage point for experienced IT professionals. These CIOs are redeploying experienced I&O professionals, developers, managers etc. who are able to translate what they know into the best way to move the organization forward by building on and adapting what you have rather than always requiring developing a new solution.
CIOs need experienced business analysts because the nature of IT project decisions is changing. Traditionally the major business decisions revolved around budget authorization for projects. Secure the budget and the focus moves to starting the project as business analysts get to work completing requirements.
Increasingly, enterprises and CIOs do not have the resources or time to continuously create new solutions. This changes the role of business analyst from introducing new solutions to solve issues toward a greater emphasis on redeploying existing solutions to new issues. The value proposition for business analysts with the experience, ability and interest in reuse is strong. Reuse not only reduces risk and cost, but also reduces cycle time by up to half.
An experienced professional as business analyst has the ability to thrive in this environment as they have one or more of the following characteristics:
- They know if the company has addressed a similar business issue in the past and the potential to reuse those solutions to fit new situations.
- The actual structure of information, interfaces and relationships between systems.
- The real performance of existing applications, data and infrastructure, providing a more accurate assessment of capacity, performance and
- Prior change requests and updates to applications
- Vulnerabilities, risks and weaknesses that may be exacerbated by the new solution.
Not every experienced IT professional can make the transition to becoming a business analyst. The new business analyst has to be solution focused; in the sense that they are looking for ways to make things work rather than focusing on all the ways it cannot work. Fortunately it is relatively easy to figure out if someone is solution focused. Simply ask the following question:
We want to do “X” in the business. What do you think?
Then listen to their response. If they talk about how it would not work, could not work, or how poorly positioned the company is, then they are not solution focused. On the other hand, if they start to discuss how it might be possible if we change X, Y, Z etc., then you have found someone who is looking to create solutions.
Re-building the role of business analyst creates new capabilities for amplifying the enterprise based on recognizing the value of experienced and solution focused IT professionals already within your organization. Moving from a requirements focus to a solutions focus is an essential part of that transformation both for IT and for the analyst role.