Making the jump from a Business Leader (whether it's the Director of Customer Success, VP of Finance, CRO, etc...) to concise instructions a Developer can understand and execute on is hard. Some would say impossible.
While it isn't impossible, expecting one role player to be an expert developer and general enough in a knowledge base to handle to the translation from start to finish is a big ask. Then you put the responsibility of running that process to the actual implementation... It can be a difficult job to do well and, even worse, to hire for.
An Internal Business Systems team for a Technology company has become more like a Product Team than anything else. Each team will have experts in Data, Salesforce, ERP, and other Business Systems specialists and expecting each of these people to be able to speak towards best architectural practices and with Executives is a big ask.
So what does a Business Analyst do?
A Business Analyst's role is to translate the request from a business into generic language that can be received by the Development team. Some will call them user stories, but really it's about isolating the following:
Does what actions? Where?
What is the expected outcome?
From that level of information, a developer can write a Solution Design, give some sort of lift, and then that can be brought into a sprint planning or communications around timeline.
What do Great Business Analysts do?
If the goal of a business analyst is to isolate the specific expected results form the business, a great Business Analyst can help guide the Business Leader to a more sustainable, strategic, and effective solution. This can be done in several ways.
Knowledge of the existing technical infrastructure - The more technical a Business Analyst is, the more they will understand the landscape in which the Developer will need to build. Unfortunately, with requests coming in from Lead to Cash, this can be a difficult ask as BA's need to generalists in many platforms.
Knowledge of Business Context - Often Business Leaders have an idea and need to a Rubber Duck. Specific strategic initiatives that a Leader will want to do may not be in the best interest due to cost to implement or related to change management. Being able to articulate these strategic challenges and suggest alternate methods is as much part of the role as is gathering Acceptance Criteria.
Team Building - The Business Systems teams serve many clients within a Business and being able to bring others together, share their experiences, and arrive at a decision in consensus is the great strength of a good BA. Decisions, especially big ones, should have that consensus, which often means communicating at different levels depending on the audience.
How to become a great Business Analyst?
This is the challenging question, as most of the great Business Analysts I've known come from varied backgrounds. Developing the technical skills to communicate in these languages and developing the soft skills necessary to do so effectively has typically meant there are two ways to get there.
Strategic then Technical - this could mean starting in Sales (or Customer Success, or Finance, or Support) at a low level and working your way to becoming a Leader then moving into Systems (usually as a CRM/ERP Admin) and learning the technical language.
Technical then Strategic – Learning the technical backend knowledge first can be very helpful! Often this does make the transition to learning the strategic more difficult, as once you’ve developed a specialty, jumping on the phones can feel like a step back.
I’m a believer that you can always make the switch you need to make wherever you are. Personally, I went from Strategic to Technical which allows me to speak to Executives while referencing the effort and difficulty associated with it. That often helps to skip forward when doing the cost/benefit analysis of a specific request.
At The Sales Nerd, we understand the importance of communication on CRM based projects. Making sure we are on the same page in regard to what you’re expecting and what is being built is of paramount importance, which is why we’ve built The Sales Nerd App to help projects get off the ground and ensure we are aligned. If you have a project that might be a fit, please feel free to reach out!