For a long time now, the most common metaphor used for a business analyst has been the ‘BRIDGE’ between the company and the client. However in the recent past, the BA community has started questioning the validity of this metaphor since the domain of the BA activities has expanded immensely. The value that a business analyst can provide a business is far more than how it is described. So should this question be ignored? Well we don’t think it should be as a metaphor is a very powerful tool that can create mental models and create possibilities of value creation.
Both sides of this debate are partially correct, as the nature of business analysis is not evenly mature across different countries and work cultures. BAs in developed countries like North America will find the ‘Bridge’ metaphor very restrictive as the role has matured to greater boundaries. On the other hand, BAs in developing economies will find this metaphor quite aspirational.
Most common interpretation of this metaphor is that it connects business and IT stakeholders but the new take on this metaphor should be that it is indeed a Bridge but between the Problem domain (Current state) and the solution domain (Future state). This explanation does not bounds the levels of business in which a BA is involved, it includes all the levels of business analysis. It includes the all the processes from strategy analysis to solution evaluation.
A new Metaphor:
Its high time that the BA gets a new metaphor which covers all the activities and contributions of a Business Analyst in business. A new metaphor which can shape the journey of a business analyst can a ‘GPS’ to move from the current state to the desired state. This metaphor represents all the flavours of a BA role and accurately defines the potential of the job.
The different features of a GPS can be related to the jobs of business analysis in the following contexts:
Map (0): a useful representation of the landscape
How a BA aligns with the feature: Build a representation of the business and IT landscape through research and analysis of industry; market forces, including competition; organization; operations; and current IT systems
CURRENT LOCATION (1) – ability to determine current location in the context of the MAP
How a BA aligns with the feature: Provide appropriate context for a project by sharing the relevant business and IT landscape with the stakeholders. A BA defines the current state of the problem domain, and frames the problem statement
DESTINATION (2) – assistance to select destination, e.g. a highly rated Point of Interest
How a BA aligns with the feature: Help organizations prioritize IT investments through business cases. He facilitates definition of the desired state through solution scope and requirements specifications
NAVIGATION (3) – real-time navigation to help reach destination most efficiently
How a BA aligns with the feature: Facilitate selection of the best solution to meet requirements. A BA facilitates shared understanding of requirements through requirements transition, continuous communication, traceability and change management also he identifies, engage, collaborate and coordinate with stakeholders; and support them to achieve desired solution.
The given graphical representation explains the GPS metaphor for a business analyst more clearly.