IT Business Analysts: Librarians, Zombies or Ninjas?

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

The role and persona of the business analyst (BA) on IT projects has changed. Let’s chart the course of the BA's rise, demise and rebirth.

BAs as Librarians
In the era of traditional, waterfall-style projects, BAs were the creators and custodians of requirements. The project manager may have owned the plans, Gantt charts and spend tracking, but if you wanted to know anything specific about scope, then BAs were the go-to people. Questions about what needs to be built, what has been built and what’s coming up next? BAs have the answers.

BAs knew what was happening now and what was about to happen next because they focused slightly ahead of the development team, working with the business on clarifying upcoming requirements. Also, while the PM typically dealt with the sponsors and a few key business people, BAs interacted more intensively with the business representatives. As a result, BAs developed a deep understanding of the business, the problem space and project specifics.

The idea of BA as librarian is not meant to imply being quiet or introverted; instead, the keepers of data and sources of information. In the good old days before the internet, if you wanted to learn something you had to go to the library. Since knowledge is power, the keepers of the knowledge are important custodians. Then came the agile revolution that, like the internet to …

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