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The Role of the Business Analyst in Digital Transformation

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Who Should Lead a Digital Transformation?

A BA (Business Analyst) is an ideal person to lead your digital transformation project. As digital transformation becomes increasingly vital for businesses in today’s economy, the role of the business analyst (BA) in facilitating transformation efforts has never been more important. In this environment, BA professionals need to equip themselves with the necessary skills to drive successful digital transformation, including adopting a more strategic and business-oriented approach. In addition, an expanded skill set in areas such as product management, process improvement, and product development is necessary. The Business Analyst must showcase strong leadership skills and position themselves as trusted advisors that companies can fully rely on. BAs must also facilitate effective collaboration amongst stakeholders to spearhead successful digital transformation. This work is undeniably layered and complex. However, the right digital transformation tools and processes can simplify the complexity of the Business Analyst’s role, and set them up as an ideal digital transformation leader.
In this article, we will walk you through why a BA is an ideal person to lead your digital transformation project and explore solutions to simplify their process.

‘’In times of digital transformation, business analysts play a critical role in bridging the gap between business and technical teams. This position requires a fairly broad skill set, including strong analytical abilities, technical expertise, and communication skills. Someone who understands the needs of business owners and can help developers transform those needs into viable technology solutions.’’

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Why is Digital Transformation so Important?

The need for successful digital transformation has never been so obvious, and it is having a knock-on effect on whole business ecosystems. For example, senior executives are witnessing their enterprises lagging. Key stakeholders are seeing their roles undergoing rapid transformation, or replacement, as new innovative business models and disruptors enter the marketplace at staggering speeds. Early digital transformation leaders achieve nearly double the growth in revenue compared to digital laggards – so if your business doesn’t keep up, it will lag behind the competition. Digital transformations can also upgrade a company’s capabilities — and in some cases, they can increase its market share. 

As the economy undergoes massive shifts and upheaval, we are starting to see entire industries disrupted and transformed. Business models that were once stable have suddenly stopped being viable as the speed of transformation accelerates. With this shift comes new opportunities for BAs – whose responsibilities are transforming from integrating and improving new technologies to now being responsible for leading digital transformation initiatives.

5 Reasons why a BA Should Lead Digital Transformation Projects

1. They can bridge the gap between IT and the Business

In the context of digital transformation, BAs are the people who create order from chaos. For successful digital transformation to take place, the BA must keep focus and stay organized,  while prioritizing projects. Without this role, chaos is likely to ensue. BAs need to have relevant experience in business and data analysis, complex problem-solving, and digital transformation and strategy – and they must be able to apply these skills to lead digital transformation.

The following is a great example of a BAs most important responsibilities when leading a digital transformation initiative:

‘’Business analysts (BAs) are responsible for bridging the gap between IT and the business using data analytics to assess processes, determine requirements and deliver data-driven recommendations and reports to executives and stakeholders.”

CIO.com

2. A business analyst can ensure alignment by creating a digital strategy roadmap

Think of the complexities of digital transformation. Now add the layers of stakeholder input, cross-functional communication, and collaboration between multiple staff members. BAs can navigate this tricky process by creating a digital strategy roadmap, a description of your company’s goals, and a step-by-step plan for how to achieve them. Taking the time to articulate business objectives so everyone is on the same page is critical to effective digital transformation. The defined goals that a BA sets gives the business a framework to assess progress against and guide future decision-making.

Digital transformation requires a big picture of what the organization might look like once the transformation is complete. However, more than often this big picture gets lost individual initiatives, changes, and opinions come to the fore. One of the greatest risks with digital transformation is initiatives misaligned with business strategy. With a business analyst leading your digital transformation, objectives and goals will stay on target – and the necessary requirements will be in place to track progress.

3. A BA can maintain focus on delivering business value

In an ever-evolving business environment, BAs also need to focus on delivering business value, while acting as trusted advisors for organizations that need to adapt quickly to new business realities. A fundamental understanding of customers and competitors, along with in-depth knowledge of innovative technologies, is also required.

The importance of soft skills, including change management and facilitation should not be overlooked – they are vital skills to have when leading a successful digital transformation.

‘’BA Professionals need to focus on delivering business value, while acting as trusted advisors for organizations that need to adapt quickly to their new reality.”

International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA)

To successfully deal with the complexities of this role, BAs who implement the right digital transformation tools will ultimately thrive. The right tools helps BAs to reduce the margin for error so that project implementation goes exactly as planned, from start to finish.The right tools also help BAs along the requirements gathering process, with automating processes, mitigate the risks and human-errors associated with programs such as Excel, and with maintaining agility and focus – to the benefit of the project and to stakeholders.

4. A business analyst can facilitate effective stakeholder collaboration

When you think of digital transformation, does stakeholder collaboration jump to mind? Well, if not – it should. Digital transformation is a misnomer that leads you to think that technology is the sole focus of the transformation. The reality is that it shares the limelight with the people who are going to be affected with the new technology that is being implemented. These people are also known as your stakeholders. Yet, unfortunately, stakeholder engagement is the critical piece of the puzzle that most businesses overlook. 

The role of the BA in facilitating stakeholder collaboration is critical, and it saves businesses time, mistakes and money. Time and time again we hear of digital transformation failures, solutions that don’t integrate or work for certain people in the business not getting their 2 cents into the decision making process. Stakeholder collaboration is crucial to successful digital transformation.

BA professionals need to take the necessary steps to figure out whose voices need to be heard. An effective way of implementing this is by asking probing questions from the get-go – in stakeholder meetings. By doing so, the real users will come to the fore, and their buy-in is essential for a successful project. Dissatisfied users who are forced to use a system every day that was procured or designed without their input is most likely to be disastrous. However, with the right input strategy, stakeholders are more likely to adopt the new solution. Digital Transformation can’t happen without agile collaboration.

Once the BA has identified and engaged with the right stakeholders, Olive can help facilitate stakeholders collaborate and work seamlessly together to find the right solutions that drive digital transformation.

Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets may seem like viable options, but the reality is that they are not always entirely optimal for documenting stakeholder collaboration. Instead, the right technology can accelerate and improve the stakeholder communication and documentation process and mitigate risks associated with traditional documentation that can potentially result in incomplete data and possibly result in human error and bias within the results.

5. They will set the digital transformation time-line, and keep the project on track

A crucial component to stakeholder collaboration and effective communication is the BA’s role in setting the digital transformation timeline. The BA must ensure that the team is aware of deadlines and deliverables. This timeline cannot be frantically rushed. Organizations must implement digital transformation with thorough and actionable steps along the way. As long as the project isn’t time-sensitive, BAs can adhere to a waterfall schedule covering lots of stakeholder feedback, testing phases, and quality assurance steps. Project management framework are also important here, and BAs can choose from project management frameworks to find a solution that is best tailored to the business. This solution needs to be functional, accurate, and complete. When fitting, BAs should also conduct periodic testing with potential customers to ensure that the solution in development will satisfy consumer needs.

Why a BA is an Ideal Digital Transformation Leader

Multiple and complex obstacles present themselves along the way in just about every step of the digital transformation process. Having a BA lead your digital transformation projects can help the business succeed. With the right tools, BAs can effectively collaborate with stakeholders, reduce the margin for error, automate processes, mitigate the risks and human errors associated with programs such as Excel, and maintain agility and focus.

Olive is a digital transformation platform that helps shorten the technology evaluation process and get buy-in from key stakeholders by automating the activities in the process. You can collaborate with your organization to gather, rank, and get feedback on requirements in Olive without exhausting spreadsheets, RFI RFQ templates, or meetings. Our platform is set up to help you save time, effort, and cost of technology evaluations. Our process is freeing up resources for IT teams to focus on strategic digital transformation activities. Either you successfully accelerate your digital transformation, or your competitors will beat you to it.

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