The Need for Business Analysts

Business Analyst Value?In today‘s economic situation, many organizations are attempting to find new and better ways of saving money. One option is, of course, to downsize. If your organization starts down that slippery path, the question then becomes which positions should be eliminated? Since the business analyst role is ill-defined and/or misunderstood in many organizations, it could become a prime candidate for consideration.

Given that the true role of a business analyst is to help organizations work more efficiently, we would like to point out that the elimination of that role is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face (whatever that means). Actually, this might be a real good time to revisit an earlier edition of the Noiseletter to give you a well-researched basis for defending the need for business analysis — and by extrapolation, business analysts — in your organization.

What Is the Value of a Well-Educated, Capable Business Analyst?

For starters, what does it mean to be well-educated and capable? Great question! If there are no more questions, class is dismissed. No, wait! We do have an answer. Consider this:

Requirements definition consists broadly of three activities.

Capture: Elicit, gather, discover, trawl for, find, "whatever" the requirements

Clarify: Write requirements to gain mutual understanding and agreement between the analysts and the subject matter experts

Confirm: Manage, prioritize, identify risk levels, and verify the testability of requirements

All analysts will make errors in one or more of these areas. Based on research by Barry Boehm (see references in the attached spreadsheet) capable analysts make 30-50% less requirements errors. What makes them capable? A large number of techniques and tricks of the trade in their repertoire. Where do they get these tricks and techniques? Primarily from experience and/or training (ergo, well-educated). Studies show that training can increase the capabilities of an analyst by one to two levels on a scale of 1 to 5). This assumes they are allowed to apply the presented techniques within a reasonable time frame.

Cost of Correction Curve

Cost of Correction Curve

So how much is it worth to make fewer errors? Research has shown that the cost to find and fix a requirements error in production (maintenance developer’s job) costs 100 — 200 times what it costs to find and fix the same error in requirements definition (business analyst’s job). Other research has shown that the average cost to fix a requirements error in production is about $14,000. Wow!

This means that the value of a capable analyst depends on how many mistakes they don’t make! This is definitely a weird way to think about things, but the numbers speak for themselves.