Engaging A Business Analyst: For Web Projects

Recently I was asked to help define some guidelines to help my team engage a Business Analyst. Initially I was quite surprised, but then I realised what a great opportunity it was to highlight some of the many areas of a project a Business Analyst can engage with and what benefits they can bring.

Before I go into, what to many will seem obvious, it’s probably important for me to give overview of the team that I work with, its size and its culture. I’ve recently joined a team who is making the slow but sure steps from being just another web development agency to being a software house. Although they still make websites, there is a real shift towards bespoke web applications and information systems. It’s a really exciting opportunity, yet slightly daunting as many of the team have never worked with a full-time BA.

Capturing or eliciting requirements can be done by anyone, and when the projects aren’t complicated there is little that can go wrong. It’s only as the scale of the projects increase, the budgets grow and with it the clients expectation, that it becomes clear that things have to get a little more formal.

The following is a very rough guide to how a BA could be engaged throughout the life cycle of a traditional software project. While I’d like to formalise it, I’ve come to realise that every project is different and every project will require different tools.

Pre-Development

At the Project Initiation process it’s the responsibility of the Business Analyst to cover the high level scope and objectives of the project and establish communication channels.

  • Help to write PID docs
  • Help to determine technologies used

Understanding the business processes for a section of an organisation or for the whole of the organisation.

  • On site visits
  • Investigations & Interviews

Clear Understanding and communication of Requirements is a very important aspect of a Business Analyst role as it ensures that there is minimum gap between the expectations of the end users and the final deliverable from the technical team.

  • Writing spec documents
  • Meetings & Interviews

During Development

Regular interactions by the Business Analyst with the developers and the technical leads is essential as the knowledge transfer of the user expectations should be ongoing.

  • Continual interaction and collaboration

Functional Testing during the testing phase to ensure that features and functions behave as per the users original requirements.

  • Writing test plans
  • Write automated test suites

Post-Development

After the implementation of the software system, the business analyst also may need to handle the change management process if there are any new requirements or changes proposed.

  • Training sessions
  • User Documentation

This is not an exhaustitive list of possible activities that could be undertaken throughout the life of a project, nor should it be seen as limiting. It’s merely a guide to developers and project managers who have not had the opportunity to work directly with BA’s on projects before, to help understand how you should engage your BA.

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