The Hybrid Business Analyst Roles In Demand

Nowadays a new trend has started, the hybrid Business Analyst roles. In this article, we discuss thoroughly about Hybrid Business analyst.

What is a Hybrid Business Analyst?

A hybrid Business Analyst is a professional who has good knowledge and expertise in another field that complements business analysis.

The hybrid Business Analyst is the mirror image of the specialist. A BAs specialist has deep expertise in a specific area of business analysis, at the expense of other areas. The hybrid Business Analyst, by contrast, is a super-generalist–knowledgeable of business analysis generally in addition to a related field. They are all known as a “jack of all trades” but master of none.

Who hires the Hybrid Business Analyst?

Often times the small business organization will hire a hybrid BA. Smaller businesses have made more with less. They are more likely to need an individual with a cross-functional skill set because they can’t afford to hire people who just stick to one thing.

Nowhere is this truer than in the startup world. You will rarely find a job posted for a dedicated Business Analyst at a startup. Why? Because they are shoestring operations that have to rely on individuals with a wider range of abilities, even if that means they don’t specialize in any one area.

Sometimes larger organizations end up with hybrid Business Analysts too, though. In fact, this is often where hybrid BA’s begin and get their start. Given how flexible the field of business analysis is, a BA is likely to float around and do different things as he goes from project to project. Sometimes that will require the BA to step outside the usual bounds and learn new skills that are not non-BA skills. Presto! A new hybrid BA is born.

Here we are discussing five hybrid Business Analyst roles that are in especially high demand.

1) Business Analyst / Project Manager

All of the hybrid roles, this is the one you are probably most likely to encounter. BAs Business Analysts and project managers (PM) work very closely together. They work so closely, in fact, that their roles often overlap with each other.

A BA is responsible for ensuring the requirements get done. The PM (project managers) ensures the requirements get developed on a schedule. A BA negotiates with stakeholders to resolve the requirements problems. The PM (project managers) negotiates with stakeholders to resolve logistical or other obstacles. The BA (Business Analyst) prioritizes requirements, and the PM (project managers) slices them up into project phases.

See the trend here? A lot of what a project manager seems like an extension of work that the Business Analysts start. So why not have the Business Analysts take the tasks to their logical conclusion?

A PM does a lot and is really essential to the completion of a project. But her core responsibility is to “smooth the waters” to make sure things get done on schedule and on time. A BA “smooths the waters” by shepherding the project’s requirements. The hybrid BA/PM can do both.

2) Product Owner

The product owner is one of the three cardinal roles in the Scrum method for doing Agile software development that is increasingly popular. (The other two roles are a developer and scrum master.)

The product owner (PO) is The key stakeholder for a project. He is literally the Voice of the client and Customer. The product owner has a vision for what the solution must accomplish and works closely with others to make that vision happen.

The product owner (PO) requires many of the traditional skills of BAs (business analysis), including the ability to deeply analyze business problems and working with other stakeholders. But he doesn’t merely write down what the business wants. He is the business owner, for the purposes of the project, and its success or failure depends greatly on him. As such, possibly the most important BA skills a product owner (PO) uses may well be the “soft” skills of communication, leadership, negotiation, and advocacy.Business Analyst

The Scrum Agile development method and its major players. Image by Dr. Ian Mitchell | CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Additionally, the product owner must know how to work in a Scrum environment. There are specific things that the Product Owner (PO) has to do to keep his Agile team working properly. Here we explain with an example, the product owner (PO) must keep an ongoing, prioritized backlog of all desired requirements (usually as epics and user stories). These requirements are then committed to the future “sprints” of the software development activity. The product owner will also keep a “burn-down chart” that tracks the on-going completion of committed user stories during a development “sprint.”

The world is increasingly moving to Scrum and Agile for developing software. That’s good news for the product owner.

3) Programmer / Analyst (or Developer / Business Analyst)

When a business needs someone who can run the gamut from the requirements all the way through coding software, it will call on the programmer analyst.

Do some businesses believe that if an analyst can gather requirements, why stop there? The same person could also develop the software solution, especially if it’s not overly complex.

Don’t expect a programmer analyst to bring deep expertise in either business analysis or programming. They are super-generalists, not specialists. The Complex requirements or the coding algorithms may require bringing in the big guns. But for some business requirements, organizations and their solutions are just not that complicated. The system may have been there for a long period of time, for example, and just need someone who can quickly “tweak” it to respond to the business need. You don’t need dedicated BA’s and developers to do that.

In another scenario, especially in places like a startup, the programmer analyst may need more than a passing acquaintance with software coding. It may form the bulk of their responsibilities. In that case, she will focus mostly on software development, while applying “BA-lite” skills to gather technical requirements.

In any case, someone who can do both business analysis and software programming at the same time is valuable, indeed.

4) Data Analyst

In this article on specialist Business Analyst (BA) roles, one field I mentioned was the Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst. This analyst takes data and uses a tool that helps them to create compelling stories and insights based on that data. But how does the data get to where it is ready for use for BI (Business Intelligence) in the first place? Enter the data analyst.

The data analyst lives in the world of databases, columns, fields, bytes, and bits. Data doesn’t just appear spontaneously in perfect condition in the database, ready for a Business Intelligence (BI) analyst to just pluck it. Data is a messy, complex business.

    • What is the best source of data? You want data that is as original as possible, not a copy, not a repetitive not a duplicate of other data.
    • Are there any issues with data quality? Maybe there are some errors in the data that must get fixed before it can be used for Business Intelligence (BI ).
    • What is the relationship with data to the other data? You can’t have meaningful Business Intelligence (BI) without having a strong conceptual and logical structure for how one bit of data interrelate to a different bit of data.
    • Where does a piece of data come from? Sometimes an analyst has to trace the data across the multiple systems back to its original source (source of the data), which may not be known.

So where does business analysis come in? Several BA (business analysis) techniques are used for data analysis. They include gathering (data) requirements, logical data models and creating conceptual, and working with stakeholders to make sure the required data is available. But it also, obviously, requires an understanding of the inner workings of data and its relationships. By the same token, while they fully understand the data they may not be the deep experts that someone like a data architect might be.

And yes, sometimes a data analyst and a BI analyst are the same people! Such an individual must master front end BI (Business Intelligence) techniques in addition to knowing the “back end” data stuff.DataModel

A simple example of a logical data model that a data analyst might create. Image by Ethacke1 | CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

5) User Experience Designer (UX)

Last but not least is the User Experience (or UX), designer. User experience is the field that specializes in capturing everything about the experience that the system user has when he interacts with some kind of software system. This includes emotions, feelings, and sensations in addition to rational thought processes.

Should the field appear on the left or the right side of the website? Is the user able to navigate the sequence of the event, on the interface with a minimum of confusion? Does the user intuitively understand the purpose of the interface elements? (think of a video gamer quickly grasping what the buttons do). Does the user experience joy or frustration? These (Q&A) questions, among many others, are the ones that the UX designer seeks to answer so, as to build the best interface possible.

The UX designer employs Business Analyst techniques like management and traditional requirements gathering and creating wireframes. But there are some techniques that are specific to UX design such as the use of focus groups for testing out UX approaches. They are also well versed in creating the working prototypes that can be quickly and iteratively improved with Agile methods.

With the advent of exciting new ways of interfacing with technology such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), a lot of UX design hasn’t even been invented yet. It’s a very exciting time to be, in this fast-moving field, and UX design skills are among the hottest on the planet.

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