This is part two of our Indoor Positioning System (IPS) case study, you can read part one here.
“Wow! This is great,” you say, “What’s next?”
Most business owners may know the hard work it takes to install new technology into their business. Those who don’t may just want to avoid this process altogether. Truth be told those stakeholders may be missing out on big opportunities to improve their business. Our goal here is to help those companies who may not have an IT department already, see how the first step in implementation works.
Enter the Business Analyst
For those who don’t know what a Business Analyst does think of them like an architect. An architect takes the needs of the client and designs them in a way that an engineering/construction team can use them to execute the project. Similarly, the Business Analyst takes the client’s needs and connects them to the technology. (Usually in the form of a development team.)
In business analysis, we need to identify the stakeholders involved with the project. Usually, the business owner is the first person on this list. However, in some cases, the project may not be of big enough scope to impact him or her. Let’s take a look at the stakeholders who involved in an IPS implementation:
- Warehouse Manager: Arguably the most important stakeholder. The warehouse manager will interact with the system day to day. The warehouse’s performance will be measured before and after the implementation. He or she will be responsible for maintaining the system after it implementation. The warehouse manager will also be responsible for training the team on how to use it.
- Warehouse staff: This team will also interact with the system on a daily basis. It is important that the system is setup in a way that they are comfortable using. If they don’t buy in the whole project isn’t worth investing in.
- Business Owner: To a certain extent, business owners are only concerned with ROI. Is this going to save time and/or money? Is it going to improve the quality of the business? Most business owners will also care if their staff enjoys the new technology. If it saves the workers time, they most likely will.
- Clients: In a case like this chances are they won’t notice a change. If they are getting their products faster, that’s a bonus.
- Other projects will have different stakeholders. It pays to be as thorough as possible, consider people outside your company as well. Carriers, dealers, etc. may all be affected by new technologies. It is important to include all the parties.
After all the stakeholders are identified, the business analyst will elicit interviews together. In these interviews, the BAs are responsible for gathering requirements. An IPS will involve the implementation of both software and hardware. If Warehouse Management System (WMS) already exists, the IPS must able to function with the system. (this is an example of a requirement.)
This is only the tip of the iceberg in the requirements gathering process. We want to provide a general overview of how this whole process works. (In the meantime we will write a separate article on the requirements process.) Essentially, the requirements are all the constraints, functional and non-functional needs the stakeholders outline. These can be written out, outlined in flow charts, etc. These are then passed off to the development team to execute the project.
The BA’s job is not done yet! There should be an implementation plan drafted before the project is ready to go into production. When we roll out our software, we always have a contingency plan in place. (In case of a business stopping issue.) Often that plan is a called a rollback, where we switch to the prior solution while the bug gets fixed. It’s nice to think that we won’t need to ever rollback our software. The reality is that you can’t predict every single process that every single person will use.
The one thing we want you to take away from this article, every business project will benefit from a BA. The BA's job in one sentence: Making sure you build it right the first time.