Getting business IT to collaborate with functional analysts

Functional analysis as a success factor for software development


Never before has technology been so embedded in our lives as it is today. Companies are under constant pressure – like pirates on an open sea – to surf the new waves of technology.

IT projects are therefore gaining in popularity and becoming increasingly necessary to ensure quality within your company. The division of roles within such projects is often decisive for the result of your software applications. You therefore need various roles and profiles, but different profiles result in different communication styles. This is why functional analysts are indispensable. They play a key role in narrowing the gap between the business and IT departments. Without these analysts, you expose your software projects to a lot of risks. Why that is, we like to explain in this blog.

I don’t need a functional analyst

… said nobody ever.

Successful IT projects go beyond just writing code or implementing the latest software solutions in your company. You need to align both the various technology initiatives and the overarching goals and needs of the business. Functional analysts fulfill that role: they often have a technical background, but most importantly, they are also trained in the business language. This is immediately why the lack of functional analysts is risky.

Risk #1 – Unclear requirements.

Without a functional analyst, detailed and well-documented information about what functional requirements software should have can be lacking. This encourages miscommunications between stakeholders and the development team. The result is unclear expectations towards each other.

Risk #2 – Project delays

Miscommunications, scope changes and quality issues can contribute to project delays. This, in turn, can cause delayed time-to-market, which has a direct detrimental effect on a company’s competitive advantage. Plus, you run the risk of having to redo development work.

Risk #3 – No common language

Functional analysts are the glue between the business and development team: they make sure both teams speak the same language. This makes it easier for employees without a background in software development to understand and read the code. Plus, when problems arise, developers immediately know where in the code to look for the error. At least if the problem is described in the right terminology. Domain Driven Design (DDD) is the most widely used technique to solve these types of challenges.

Techniques to bridge the gap between business and IT

1. Functional requirements mapping

Interviews, questionnaires, and workshops with business stakeholders are good tools for identifying requirements. Open-ended questions identify hidden needs and preferences.

2. Stakeholder workshops

Workshops and participatory sessions with business and/or IT professionals help define requirements and resolve conflicts. It also provides assurance that everyone’s input is considered.

3. Document requirements

Detailed documents are prepared on the requirements. These clearly define what must be done and what objectives the project must achieve to succeed. These documents are often divided into two specific sections: one created for business, the other for software development. That way, everyone has a unified understanding about the required software specifications.

4. Prototyping

Prototypes and mock-ups help stakeholders visualize the final product. This is certainly helpful when discussing the UX and interface elements of the software application. It helps stakeholders get a better idea about the layout, rather than just focusing on color usage and design preferences. For example, on a login page, you see where the fields where you have to enter email and password. Those fields are represented by black and white rectangles in the prototype.

5. Designing diagrams with UML

 Unified Modeling Language (UML) you use to visually represent workflows and interactions with the system. Examples are activity diagrams, use case diagrams, class diagrams … They are easy-to-read formats that explain complex relationships or flows.

Conclusion: functional analysts are necessary

So, a functional analyst is indispensable for your IT project, because they have a direct impact on the project’s chances of success. They have the skills to define clear requirements. They also ensure that timings are respected and that a common language is spoken throughout software development. To do so, they use various techniques, such as gathering the necessary requirements, documenting and visualizing.

Is your company starting new software development soon? Then be sure to use the expertise of our functional analysts. This way, you proactively protect the chances of success of your software application development.

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