What is a business analyst, and why do agencies need one?

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FortyFour has been growing quickly, and this past year, we officially added business analysis to our competencies. But you might be wondering: what is a business analyst, and why did we need one here?

Business Analysis Defined 

The business analyst (BA) acts as a bridge between the cultural and technological sides of a digital agency. From the UX designers to content strategists to technology directors, various agency teams have a difficult time integrating the myriad projects and platforms in which they’re working. That’s where the BA comes in.

At the beginning of any project, the BA gathers all the requirements and develops a game plan. Through consumer research, design thinking, customer journey mapping, user flows, prototypes, and user stories, BAs are able to round-up all the requirements a new project will bring with it. Their goal is to ensure a consistent product vision, from the initial client discovery phase to the product release and through ongoing maintenance.

The Day-to-Day of a Business Analyst

FortyFour’s director of business analysis, Andreu Harris, explained that there is no true “daily routine” for a business analyst. Each day brings its own unique challenges, obstacles, and tasks. Some of the things a BA might do on any given day include:

  • Define project scope and get sign off from the client to eliminate potential disagreements between the client and the agency
  • Define guidelines for developers and designers via high-level business summaries and detailed user-stories
  • Providing designers a guard-rail to stay within budget and time, without hindering the creative process
  • Document agreed upon functional and non-functional requirements so that developers have clear understandings of the feature

Does that sound like a big enough job?

While members of the UX, tech, and project management teams agree to the sprint and project scope, the BA is the owner of the product scope and requirements. BAs are always checking in to make sure requirements are met and are within project and feature scope.

Impact of BA at FortyFour

Before we opened our business analysis department in May of 2017, FortyFour had a delivery issue with larger-scale development projects. Since bringing on director Andreu Harris and fellow BA Karla Carreño Fleming, FortyFour has been able to improve our consistent product vision, to more seamlessly handoff design to the dev team, and to improve and extend multiple client relationships. For example, the BA competency played an important role in our work with American Cancer Society. On the ACS project, the BAs were able to define an MVP backlog that included clearly defined requirements in user stories for complex features. This gave the dev team a clear understanding of features and deadlines. In co-collaboration with project management, the BAs also provided the client with a clear understanding of what was being worked on in each sprint and when a launch would occur.

So, as you can see, the answer to the question of what a business analyst does is…well, a lot. It’s a big job, with big responsibilities, but one that plays an integral role in any digital agency. Here at FortyFour, the business analysis team has improved our chances for success on multiple front lines, and we’re thrilled to see the team continue to grow.

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