In Business Applications, Advisory companies are good at building processes, operating models and business blueprints while System integrators are proficient in functional and technical implementations. The solution is probably in the middle: either you hire both of them in an hybrid setup or you take a risk on 50% of your project success.
At Business Elements, although we collaborate successfully with key Advisory companies, we have found a solution to fill that gap. We made the choice to hire different profiles (50% of our new hires since 2020) with business and advisory backgrounds, to complement our strong functional and technical talents. From there it is very important to create clarity on the roles of Business Analyst and Functional Analyst, and make them live together.
Many organizations do not make a clear distinction between Business Analysts, Functional Analysts and Product Owners. One person can manage multiple roles when the solution size is limited, as long as all the tasks/roles/responsibilities are all known from both sides. The larger the solution scope and the required velocity of the project, the more likely you will need to split this over various resources to avoid confusion, slow down of projects or even worse, the creation of loops that would make a big part of the work unuseful. Anticipating such situation drives you to ensure that roles, deliverables and empowerment rules are clearly defined from the start.
“Business Analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, polices and operations of an organization and recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.” is the definition form IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis). It is not looking bad considering that many organizations define BAs as non-technical profiles with some (or a lot of) experience in business or in a specific industry. In the case of Business Applications, BAs are requested to listen, interview, gather key documents, perform root cause analysis and support the product owner in defining the business requirements and priorities.
Functional Analysts need to understand the platform and the application's modules to provide realistic options. They give feed-back on the technical implications of business requirements. As a pivot between Business Analysts and the technical team, Functional Analysts write technical requirements from the business requirements and define a functional design.
Product owners often belong to the customer's organization. They are the voice of the business, have an overall view on the product to deliver and prioritize business requirements. This role is key in the definition of done for each topic of the project scope.
- Business Analysts map the value
- Functional Analysts present a functional design
- Product owners prioritize and confirm goals
In complex projects, the biggest problems that may appear when you approach the arrival line are often the ones due to business analysis. People are stressed, exhausted and out of time. If they realize that everyone is not on the same page, they need to loop back in the past to redefine the basics. In that moment, you might realize that the roles, responsibilities and expectations were not understood in the same way by everyone. Whatever you want to drive a project in waterfall or agile, setting the scene and defining the roles at the beginning is a must. It gives you a North Star, the milestones to get there, and guidance when you are in the fog.
"Hire the right team, do not skip the discovery phase. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of the business users, ask the right questions, map the business value drivers with functional topics, define the success criteria and fix KPIs. Then your project can start!" says Laurent Deramaix, CEO of Business Elements S.A.