As I always say, a Business Analyst is a change agent. Ultimately, they help their organization in making change. And while innovation was essential to organizations prior to 2020, it’s safe to say that the past few years have been a time of rapid change.

Having been thrown into a pandemic that shook whole businesses, economies, and the lives of literally everyone on Earth, companies were forced to adapt and innovate, to come up with solutions quickly. And as we move forward toward a more normal sense of life and business – whether it be a ‘new normal’ or something closer to what was familiar before the COVID-19 pandemic hit – embracing change in a logical, strategic manner that identifies opportunities and leverages strengths is essential for businesses to not only survive, but to thrive.

This is where Business Analysts step in.

In a nod to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, I like to say that “the only constant in business is change.” As BA’s, we get that – and we’re all for it. There are many ways that we help organizations generate value through change and innovation, and we’ll explore a few of them below.

The Tactician: Actualizing Ideas & Visions

Business owners and executives have big ideas, dreams, and visions. But they often have little idea how to translate their visions into a profitable and successful reality. A Business Analyst helps shape this vision into a series of methodical, actionable steps towards achieving that vision. Simply put, a Business Executive is the visionary, while a Business Analyst is a tactician.

Business Analysts begin by familiarizing themselves with the vision and strategizing the steps an organization must take to actualize that vision. That may sound simple – and it can be when the change is small – but major overhauls and changes require a lot of time, planning, effort, and investment. A Business Analyst will work to identify and understand opportunities, and communicate the business’ objectives and goals, as well as those of its stakeholders.

Once a BA has understood and examined the needs, they will work with the employees who need to be involved to translate those needs into a solution. Throughout this article, we’ll use the example of new software implementation as a focus for business analysis. For instance, implementing new software to boost productivity would involve a BA translating the business needs to a developer, enabling them to create or source software that directly addresses those requirements.

How Can A Business Analyst Help Enable Change? 

Aspiring Business Analysts are always looking for examples to understand the role and contributions of an analyst within an organization. Let’s look at a recent example from the post-pandemic corporate world, where businesses are increasingly adopting full-time work-from-home (WFH) models. This transition to a WFH environment is not an easy one, as it comes with numerous risks and challenges. 

Some of the challenges may not be visible at an initial glance, but they gradually start manifesting themselves and overriding progress. A Business Analyst should be engaged to help companies wanting to implement a WFH culture actualize their vision, and avoid big pitfalls. The BA will strategically analyze the technical needs of the employees, alongside their routine, preferences, and struggles, and compare those needs with the requirements and constraints of the organization. These details allow the BA to then present decision-makers with recommended strategic solutions to successfully implement this change.

Another prominent example of Business Analysts helping enable change can be seen in the recent self-service trend. Companies in a range of industries have adopted self-service units to reduce direct contact, lower operating costs, and increase consumer autonomy and transparency. Gas stations were one of the first to embrace this innovation, and grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses have followed suit after seeing its benefits. 

A self-service unit at McDonald’s allows you to place your order yourself, without the presence of a staff member. You simply walk up to the order screen, click on the items you want from the menu, pay via the card machine attached, and then wait for your food to be served. Since implementing this technology into its restaurants, McDonald’s has enjoyed an impressive increase in sales at its kiosks, and has also witnessed an increase in the average size of each order per customer – an average increase of 20%!

All of this is possible with guidance from Business Analysts. Introducing a new business offering will often require new software or changes to existing software to create a robust process. This process will determine how efficiently and successfully a business can implement and use the self-service unit to its advantage. Here, a BA can help executives identify elements that need change and offer guidance on how to implement these changes effectively.

Adapting and Innovating

In recent years, the pressure to adapt and innovate with technological advancements has been at an all-time high. Most businesses have little choice but to innovate or they will lose their competitive edge. Naturally, adopting new technology or software requires a business to change existing processes and make room for innovation.

Business Analysts step in to help a business make this transition and the necessary changes while astutely avoiding risks and potential pitfalls. With a shared vision and solution in place, the BA can help the organization successfully implement new software, embrace new technology, or facilitate other crucial changes they so desperately need to make.

Business Analysts are critical to helping organizations identify and execute upon opportunities that create value and help them achieve their goals. When change is needed, it’s the BA’s knowledge and experience that enables business leaders to breathe easy knowing they’re in skilled and capable hands.

Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide