Outsourcing is gaining momentum not only as a way to reduce costs, but as a way to create global teams. This trend is driving an increase in demand for business analysts. The change in perspective is driving companies to think about how they manage their business in new ways, and driving interest in new tools for business analysts to achieve these goals.
The role of the business analyst has emerged as a focal point for enterprises trying to wring more out of their automation-technology investments.[…] Ironically, outsourcing is feeding a frenzy to bring aboard more analysts. The experience of outsourcing IT has taught firms their technology-project specifications were in much worse shape than they believed. When companies would deliver specs to outside firms and individuals who didn’t have deep experience with their existing automation solutions, the knowledge gaps became painfully apparent.
Neal McWhorter, in the Yahoo article (emphasis ours)
This Computerworld article suggests that business analysts are one of 5 top areas for hiring, and business process management is one of 5 top technologies being explored.
How Business Analysts Adapt
Neal suggests that BAs will evolve their role and responsibilities to be something analogous to a product manager. We’ve been treating the roles similarly here – with the primary distinction being a single-customer focus for business analysts.
We can’t overemphasize the need to be good at writing requirements first, and then using tools to become more efficient second. With that said, the increasing importance of business analysts drives the increasing importance of helping BAs be more effective.
Two areas where there are huge opportunities for improvement are business process modeling and requirements gathering/management.
There are tools and vendors for BPMN solutions, and it looks like training is finally going to be more available in 2007. Bruce Silver is developing training that uses ITP Commerce as a tool provider. We’re currently designing a training course as well, built by extending the tutorial series we wrote last year, using visio stencils and a vendor-agnostic approach.
Requirements Management Software
Today, the space can be characterized as having the following solutions available:
- Spend a lot on an enterprise package, and mandate that all your projects use it, in order to recover the costs.
- Build your own solution, using spreadsheets, documents, email and other tools.
We expect this to change in 2007 too. Both of the approaches above can be cost ineffective for single-projects within a large company, SMBs looking to become more effective, and small consulting shops providing services to other firms. There’s a lot of opportunity here for the right solution.
Is it the year of the business analyst? The need is indisputable. Will the C-level execs act on it?