What does a Business Analyst do? Interview with Oana Onaciu.

Have you wondered what a Business Analyst does? So did we! That’s why next on our #WomenInTechnology, we have Oana, a Senior Business Analyst who always has a way of brightening our days with her warm smile and joyfulness. In this article, she will provide an in-depth look at her career as a business analyst, her life choices, and the necessity of asking “why” in her line of work. 

Tell us a bit about your journey, what made you become a BA (Business Analyst)? 

After graduating from a literature university, I began my career as an interpreter and translator. At the time, this was what I aspired to, and it was my ideal job. I never anticipated that I would switch to a completely new profession and life. 

 I’ve always been a sociable, outgoing individual who enjoys interacting with others, with a bit of curiosity and an analytical mind. That is why I chose this area of work: to assist people in overcoming language barriers and communicating more effectively.

Long story short, I casually came across this role a couple of years ago and I started looking with interest into it. I did some research on what a business analyst does in this industry, I attended a few webinars, industry trainings, and became more and more interested in this role, so I started to apply for various positions, all with the goal of bringing my communication skills to a different level. And this is how I started my journey as a Business Analyst. 

How would you describe your role as a business analyst if you had to? 

Basically, the Business Analyst job is all about being nosy. Kidding. But one thing is certain: being a business analyst is far from boring. I have this feeling of never-ending evolution, of trying new things, and of continuous improvement, which is precisely what drew me to this profession. We need to ask a lot of questions, and as one of my clients put it, “The only bad question is the unasked one”. 

The role of a BA, in my opinion, is to serve as a link between the technical team and what the client/business stakeholders want. The ability to ask the right questions at the right moment is a BA’s most crucial skill. To be curious and to have a large imagination for all possible circumstances. To assist the client in uncovering what they need, what they desire and, more significantly, why they desire it. 

How can a business analyst assist in the improvement of a company?   

The role of a business analyst is essential in improving a company since it saves time for both the development department and the client. And time is money, as we all know. A BA helps the developers by taking care of the meetings and the stakeholder communication and allowing them to focus on the actual development side of things.   

It’s crucial to understand not just the business side, but also the technical side, in order to serve as a bridge between the team and the client. To be able to listen to what the customer wants from a business standpoint, to understand and to advise him, to assist them with solutions, and to know when and how to intervene in technical team meetings.   

What other industries have you worked in as a BA?   

Prior to joining TEC, I worked as a business analyst in industries such as finance, sustainability, automotive, and health care.  

What’s the process when you’re given a new project?   

The discovery workshop would be the initial step in any new project, this is how we pull the information from multiple sources from within the client’s organization and then we perform the analysis of the requirements gathered, a critical phase for the success of a project. Gathering the requirements is a challenging phase since there is a lot of information absorbed in a short amount of time, and you must understand the business very well, and know how to interpret and prioritize the requirements. 

It’s also crucial to simplify them and then show the product’s scope to the top management so that strategic business decisions can be made. 

What would you say is the biggest challenge from a BA’s perspective when starting a new project?   

A BA, in my opinion, faces a number of obstacles, one of which is thoroughly comprehending the nature of the business in order to have a clear and complete understanding of the needs while beginning a new project. I normally begin by conducting research on the industry and the client’s business domain. 

Another tough challenge in this role is the changes of the business needs or requirements, handling them and understanding where the limits are, in order to stay within the scope of the project, and how this will affect estimations or effort. And last but not least, to find the time in between the countless meetings to do some actual BA work. 

What do you think the next steps are for someone working as a business analyst? (What can a BA grow into further in their career?)  

Working as a BA is an incredible adventure, aside from the fact that I get to learn something new every day, literally every day, this makes me happy because I feel like I’m continuously growing and not intellectually stagnating. Usually, there are several transitions that a Business Analyst can go through from a junior BA up to a senior Product Manager. These are, however, subject to many differences that have to do with the way each and every company chooses to implement these specific Product Roles.

For the sake of the argument, you could go from junior BA to BA, then Senior BA, and afterwards transition to the more strategic side of things as a junior Product Manager, Product Manager, then Senior Product Manager. From there on, sky’s the limit. You can successfully fulfil roles such as Head of Department, CTO, CEO, or you could even start up your own company if you haven’t done it already by that time 🙂    

What’s the difference between a business analyst and a product owner?   

The distinction between these is highly dependent on the company you work for. For example, a product owner, as the name implies, works on their own product, and a business analyst works for an outsourcing company. The skills are the same, the work system is the same. The Product Owner is more business and customer-oriented, while the Business Analyst is often more tactical and focused on the project.  

The business analyst is in charge of ensuring that what the customer wants and what the team is creating are in sync. The BA serves as a liaison between the business and technical teams, identifying gaps and assessing their impact.   

However, given a normal BA’s training and talents, they’re usually qualified to perform parts of the PO’s duties as well. Most backlog management operations, as well as dividing large stories into smaller ones, modelling workflows and data, setting business rules, and dealing with non-functional requirements, are included. As a result, these two functions frequently overlap.  

Think you could go back in time. What advice would you give to your 5 years ago self?   

Most likely the advice I give myself on a regular basis. Everything happens at the right time. Be patient. If it doesn’t happen, it’s for a reason. So, I think, if I could magically go back in time, by the way, that would be so cool, I’d tell myself to be patient and to wait for things to happen naturally.  

And finally, what piece of advice could you offer to the people that are starting their careers as a BA (Business Analyst)?   

The most important piece of advice I could provide, and which would be great to consider, is to be patient. There are frustrating days and periods, with lots of meetings, but the great satisfaction you get when the product is built and comes into shape, and knowing that you contributed to it, makes it all worthwhile.