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This first part of the paper will look into details about the background of the business analysts and see what are some competences and transferrable skills they may have in becoming a successful business analyst. It will then look into one of the dilemmas that many organizations face today namely whether to outsource, buy or build equipment in house.
- Essay: Compare business analysts from IT and Business. Which ones are more effective in what situations? Give examples.
The profession of a business analysts represents a myriad of professional career background. It is their background that drives the way that a business analyst approaches analysis project and think about business solution. There’s a long standing debate regarding the level of knowledge one needs to have either in IT or business because for instance, an individual who is fluent in given technology does not automatically qualify him or her as a business analyst. In reality, there’s a long list of varied answers like any other profession but it is indeed one of many competencies that a successful business analyst must possess. Then the question is, where do most business analysts come from? The majority of business analysts today come from both IT background and business areas. In the best situations, the business analysis professional has a combination of IT and business skills.
Business analysts coming from IT background has both positive and negative aspects. Those with IT background has better understanding of computers and technology and are very agile in making changes and diagnosing issues. As they are very analytical individual, they have strong problem-solving skills and communication skills. In addition, as they are solution oriented, they know and will recommend what technologies and software development are available. They have emphasis on solution design, inherent logical thinking patterns and attention to detail which can shed a light to a problem from a new perspective. However, there are also some drawbacks with business analysts coming from the IT side. They have tendency of looking from one area i.e. IT perspective and does not take holistic view of the problem, coming up with IT solution rather than business solution and jump to solutions without giving much thought about enterprise as a whole. They may not consider process changes or organizational changes as effective methods for problem solving. Furthermore, they may not understand the time required to implement a change in business procedures when new software is deployed. Therefore, they need to learn to have a business thinking mind by understanding the vision, mission and goals of the business and adjust their view of technology to one that supports the business goal rather than driving them.
Likewise, individuals from business units have equally both positive and negative aspects that complements the other. They can recommend procedural or workflow changes to improve efficiency in their areas. In addition they show strong analytical and problem-solving skills within the business area along with strong communication skills with management and their co-workers (Carkenord 2009, p.9). They can think outside of the box and aid in the transition from old process to changed process and reduce risk by working within the confines of the business. On the other side, as they lack technical awareness, they will be confined in providing their experts in business and doesn’t consider what capabilities are available through technology and the relative time and cost of developing each capability. Moreover, lack of technical awareness can lead to difficulty communicating with technical professionals as they don’t have much knowledge about the IT architecture (Blais, 2011 p.33).
In order to better understand when and where they are most efficient at, let’s consider a scenario. For instance, a retail company wants to upgrade their CRM platform to a scalable and cloud based system that helps to track and decide marketing budget, marketing channel, improved selling and creating exciting client experience. Potential problem area under this scenario is the fact that they do not have enough expertise in software services and require a methodology and architecture that matches their need and expectation. Business analyst coming from business unit will architect a solution by understanding the business needs of the entire CRM application by breaking down into different areas of the business. They will conduct feasibility study by cross examining in full detail looking at where the opportunity and risk may lie and delegate, create guidelines and establish rapport, trust and communication with different stakeholders. They will design workflows, vision to mission mapping and conduct functional complexity analysis. They will put in place steps to implement the change such as creating test plans and executing the test scenarios. On the other hand, if a business analyst comes from IT background, they will be more efficient and faster in finding and designing the software that minimizes migration effort using an automated tool. As it is going to be cloud based, they will identify and architect the best possible approach to data interaction from desktop application to web at near real time synchronization rate. They can diagnose and detect a loophole in the system if there’s any and set security measures to maintain and protect it. They can design a pilot version of the CRM to go through quality checks before implementing it.
If the background is in IT, they may be in the habit of thinking about how to automate and integrate repetitive tasks and provide more sophisticated data for decision making. On the other hand, if the background is in business, they may be thinking about new ways of doing business, how to better support customers and how the business can be more successful (Carkenord, 2009 pg.162). A business analyst that has these two modes of thinking is the most useful and valuable in business analysis work.
2.Case Study: “Buy, don’t build.” Give 2 examples when this statement is correct and is not correct.
Organizations face the dilemma when making build or buy decisions at it is very important yet complex issue. Of course the main focal point of making the decision is to choose the most cost-effective, functional and feature rich solution but it is not always crystal clear which one is right for your process. There are number of reasons why a company would consider building in house. First of all, there’s a concern over intellectual property. If a company needs a security software or payment solution, outsourcing to another IT firm in China, Bangladesh or India will need to be reconsidered. Because outsourcing such product development can be cost-effective in the short-term but in the long run, they may face some problems as there are copy right issues in many of the outsourcing destinations. There are many other reasons such as lack of competent supplier, too small volume to get a supplier attracted, reduction of logistic costs and simply over organization pride. The advantage is that they have complete control and it is tailored to unique business needs.
An example where “buy, don’t build” may be the case is if a company has a lack of technical experience and budget to build. For instance, let’s assume a company needs a software for CNC machine to design a product model. It may be much cheaper to buy it rather than building it as it is for a one-time or short term use. The advantage of buying is that it is a ready-made solution and they can have expert support and training.