The analyst’s job can be quite varied, depending on the focus, the abilities of the particular analyst, and the needs of the customer and the team. There are some analysts who specify, in great technical detail, what the development team has to do, and others who act more like business consultants by looking into the customer’s business needs and processes.
Only a few excellent analysts have enough time and experience to cover the full spectrum from business analysis to technical requirements specification, and most of them prefer to work towards one or the other end of it.
We call those who can write technical specification – system analysts – and the ones able to offer business consultation – business analysts.
You can read more about the differences in the work of those two in this Modern Analyst article.
In addition to requirements specification, an analyst often creates different prototypes, flowcharts, and other visuals. A good drawing or a simple prototype may save considerable time for all project participants. Thus, analysts with good visualization skills are in great demand.
Read more about the analyst position (in Estonian).
To sum up, there are a few directions in which an analyst can develop. Here is a list of subjects, recommended sources and keywords in English, so that you can search the internet for them.
Books to Read
To begin with, you could read a comprehensive overview of what an analyst does. We browsed some books, and we think that these two could be useful for a complete beginner software analyst:
- Mohamed Elgendy, “Business Analysis for Beginners”
- Kupe Kupersmith, “Business Analysis for Dummies” (not that we think you’re dumb or anything :-D)
Irrespective of whether an analyst is working closer to business or technology, the analyst’s work pretty much comes down to specifying software requirements. That is why we recommend the following books:
- “Software Requirements”, Karl Wiegers – it’s one of the classics, that describes an analyst’s work in broad terms and helps understand what is expected of an analyst in different types of projects/methodologies. He gives a lot of practical advice for complicated situations, and overcoming real life obstacles in the life of an analyst.
- “User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product”, Jeff Patton and Peter Economy – it describes very well (and in a nicely visualized manner) the need for user stories and the principles of mapping them.
- “Specification by Example”, Gojko Adzic – it explains why and how specific real-life cases and examples are extremely valuable in describing requirements. The author has been to Estonia several times, conducting training on the same subject – keep an eye on his training calendar!
- “Impact Mapping”, Gojko Adzic – it teaches how to view requirements and business needs depending on the desired impact.
Given that the work of an analyst also means communication with lots of different people, you can’t go wrong with any book, training, advice or article about getting to know yourself and/or others better in order to be a good communicator and relationship builder.
Any information about different development methods and approaches is also very valuable, in our context, especially SCRUM, Lean, and Kanban.
The following keywords are useful for browsing the internet for interesting reading material and independent study: User story mapping, software requirements mapping, specification by example, impact mapping, SCRUM, kanban, lean, design thinking, prototyping, user experience, service design, customer journey mapping.