Business Analyst: Bridging the IT-Business Gap
“IT does not understand what we need from them.” – Business Team
“We give the business exactly what they ask for and still they’re not satisfied and don’t use what we build.” – IT Team
Sound familiar? Seems like somewhere along the way, the gap between business and IT has grown.
As business functions become more reliant on technology, it’s essential to always start any new initiative by identifying the real business need first. In order to do this, both the business and IT need to effectively communicate. This, of course, is easier said than done. Time and time again, I hear clients describe the business groups and IT as if they were two separate entities, often at odds with each other. We’ve talked about how this misalignment happens, but fixing it is often not so simple.
The odds are stacked against any project that begins without alignment between business and IT. So, what could happen when business and IT Goals aren’t aligned?
- Failure is real and leaves a sour taste in the mouths of all levels of an organization
- Users become increasingly averse to change
- Employees will revert to the old way of doing things
- The idea that changing “is just too big” is solidified in the minds of management and employees
Business Analyst: Bridging the Gap
The key to bridging the gap between business and IT is having a specialist that can bring a holistic perspective to the complexities of any project. This representative begins by understanding the business objectives and the various roles that contribute to the company’s goals. Next, an evaluation of the day-to-day processes, how management interacts with their direct reports, and end-user pain points is a crucial step to ensuring the successful outcome of any project.
At SWC, these key players are known as Business Analyst (BA). These individuals play a critical role in the alignment piece of Our Approach to ongoing business success. Essentially, BAs serve as translators between business and IT. They are able to identify both the need and the value of change and communicate that back to the business. This can be summarized in three functions:
- Understand the business
- Speak with key players
- Evaluate day-to-day processes
- Understand how management interacts with direct report
- Identify pain points
- Conduct current state assessments of business processes and supporting systems
- Business translation
- Write everything down
- Use process diagrams to visually represent complicated workflow
- Document pain points
- Document user personas
- Understand how technology can be integrated into the organization
- Support technical leads and developers by providing functional clarification and setting expectations with team and client
We have moved into a world where, in order to grow (and at times to even survive), fast-paced innovation is necessary. A BA becomes the expert in process improvement and is imperative to the success of an IT project.
Business Analysts in Action
Helping the Railroad Industry Become the Leaders in Innovation
The railroad industry has existed in the US for over 200 years. To the average person, it may seem this industry has been untouched by time. However, leading railroad companies have been some of the first to harness technical innovations to meet business goals, like improving safety and efficiency. In fact, railroads were one of the only industries to increase investments during the recent economic recession, allowing for improvements leading to its safest year yet. The Association of American Railroads “believes there is a strong correlation between safety gains and the research, development, and implementation of new technologies.” The industry continues to pursue improvement by combining new technology, processes, and training to reduce cargo damage or loss.
SWC recently worked with a Chicago-based leader in the railroad industry to update and replace manual processes. These included tracking power-related data in a spreadsheet, recording details of safety-related activities on paper, and analyzing the inefficiencies related to tracking and planning for incoming traffic, all with the goal of helping the business execute day-to-day processes in the most optimal way.
For each project, Business Analysts played a key role. They were able to identify the shortcomings with current practices by taking time to understand their business goals, the key players, pain points, and potential ROI. With this information, they helped develop a strategic roadmap to align the best people, process, and technologies to achieve the project and business goals.
Do you want to learn more about how Business Analysts can help your organization’s IT and business teams identify common goals and next steps? Contact SWC today and someone from our team will be in touch!