In the previous post on getting organized for succeeding with SOA I talked about the importance of implementation-free requirements and the overall role of business analysts. In this post, I would like to highlight specific areas where business analysts can help SOA initiatives.
- Create business models – free of technical specifications or system level details – that capture the full end-to-end view of a business process. They should use a modeling tool that can work with a standard notation (e.g. BPMN) and create as accurate a view of a business process as possible. They need to capture human steps, system steps, pauses, business rules, external activities, etc. accurately and comprehensively
- Identify candidate business capabilities – not necessarily technical services – but at a higher level of abstraction. For example, MakePayment or BookTicket are business capabilities that can be realized in a multitude of ways by technology folks. But the analysts could significantly help by pointing out capabilities that are candidates for reuse across multiple business processes, scenarios, or lines of businesses.
- Identify areas for simplification/streamlining – analysts can identify redundant manual steps where users enter data multiple times or in similar fashion. They can also identify steps that can be eliminated or made simpler. For instance, validating credit worthiness of a customer could be done systematically and the system can present options for the user based on score. Or the credit worthiness score could be driven by business rules and only in exception cases the system might require manual intervention. All these behaviors have to be driven from the context of how to make the overall user experience better.
- Provide context – analysts can help identify areas of business priority in order for technology to build services. What lines of businesses are meant to grow? which ones are going away? which business process needs maximum customization and if so, in what ways? A good analyst can provide the big picture view, the context for your SOA initiatives by helping you separate the essential from all the noise.
This list isn’t exhaustive but is meant to give a sense of the key role that an analyst plays!