According to Wikipedia, a business analyst is someone who analyzes an organization or business domain (real or hypothetical) and documents it business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role as "a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals. In our organization, we ask our BAs to do much more than that!
BAs are gaining an increasing strategic role within the organization.
BAs act as the focal point for key organizational knowledge about business processes and IT systems. They are subject matter experts!
- BAs “own” the relationship with the business area that they support, becoming a trusted member of their team, not just working with them on approved projects.
BAs need to be much more technical in their knowledge of the applications already in the environment and the ones being installed. They are no longer just translators between the business and IT, but are now acting as architects of the business.
BAs have become much more involved in Quality Assurance and end-to-end testing, making sure there are good test cases for all of the requirements that have been gathered.
BAs have taken on a much more active role in creating Training documentation and the actual delivery of Training.
As a manager, it is important to support the BAs with both their business contacts and the rest of the IT organization. As their knowledge and skillsets grow, they become more in demand and it is up to the manager to help prioritize their work and give them the tools they need to be successful. Managers must create the opportunities for them to become engaged with their business partners, and monitor that relationship to ensure it is healthy and productive. It is the manager’s job to create an environment where the BAs can work collaboratively and share their experiences with each other, even if they are working in different areas of the business and on different projects. They learn as much from each other as they do from any other source!
Managers should ensure that the BAs have the opportunity to dig into the applications beyond the basic functional processes so they can be that “business Architects and subject matter experts” who are needed to make sure solutions will work within the environment. Help them develop closer working relationships with the technical teams. If the BAs have a better technical understanding of the solution, it will be much easier to discuss solutions with the developers and make the documentation easier to understand. Give them the training they need to be able to do a thorough job at gathering and documenting requirements, designing solutions, and creating training documents, test cases, as-is and to-be process maps, and anything else they are asked to produce.
Today we are asking our BAs to be much more flexible in what their duties entail. They have become a very important resource to the Business and IT. As managers, we must help mentor and support them and allow them to grow into productive and successful members of the organization!
Background about Tempur+Sealy
Tempur-Pedic began making Mattresses in the U.S. in the early ‘90’s using a special material that was originally created by NASA, who was trying to develop a cushioning material for aircraft and spacecraft that would help astronauts better cope with the enormous G-forces they experience, especially during lift-off. Over the years, the original formula has been improved to create the special feel and support of the Tempur material. Today, Tempur-Pedic has joined Forces with Sealy to become one of the world’s largest Bedding companies.
As Tempur-Sealy has grown, the IT organization has aligned with the business areas to provide support and expertise which help to move the company forward. It became very apparent a few years ago that IT needed liaisons between the IT department and various areas of the business. These Business Analysts needed to have a deep understanding of what the business area does, and how IT can help. We created Business relationship managers to support the Corporate functions, Sales and Marketing, and Operations. Each of these managers has a team of BAs with deep knowledge in that specific part of the business. Some of the BAs came from a technical background and learned the business, and others came from that business area and learned the technology. It has been a very good mix for us.
The BAs work closely with their business partners to understand what their plans are and how IT can support their needs. They become an important part of the Business team. As the business looks at new vendors and new functionality, the BA helps make sure things being considered fit within our technology stack, or brings in the Architects to determine if IT needs to make changes to the standards. This avoids a lot of surprises and the need to support multiple redundant platforms.
We also have BAs that work across the business areas on specific platforms. Today we have a team of dedicated BAs working on our global ERP implementation, and another team working on Business Intelligence and Reporting. These teams are instrumental in keeping all areas of the business using the same processes and toolsets, and protecting our enterprise data.
As the company continues to grow and evolve, the flexibility of our BA team allows us to support the business and be a trusted partner in all their planning and projects.
Written By: Marlene Gaidzik, Director at Tempur-Sealy, Int, Lexington, KY