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Business Analysts and Solution Architects on Implementations

The roles of the business analyst and solution architect have in the last few years gone through significant change.  What are the current role definitions and how do the people in the roles of business analyst and solution architect interact and work together during a Microsoft Dynamics implementation?

business analyst and solution architect working together on dynamics implementationsToday, the best definitions for both business analysis and the role of a business analyst are from the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis).  IIBA describes business analysis as “a set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals”.  The individual in the role of business analyst is responsible and accountable for the execution of the business analysis activities.

During Dynamics implementations, the business analyst represents to the world the business needs of the stakeholders; the business analyst speaks for all of the stakeholders on the project.   In order to represent the stakeholders, the business analyst first brings the stakeholders to agreement on business, stakeholder, and solution requirements. A requirement is not truly a requirement unless all stakeholders have seen the requirement and had the opportunity to contribute.

Solutions are defined by the IIBA as “a set of changes to the current state of an organization that are made in order to enable that organization to meet a business need, solve a problem, or take advantage of an opportunity”. During the Dynamics implementation, the business analyst recommends solutions that meet the needs of the stakeholders.

Where the business analyst works with the project stakeholders, the solution architect works directly with the business analyst to identify and craft a solution that meets the business needs of the stakeholders as agreed upon and documented by the business analyst. The solution architect integrates multiple systems or business changes to arrive at a cohesive functional solution that meets the needs of the stakeholders.

The solution architect reviews the business, stakeholder, and solution requirements prepared by the business analyst, along with documented business and technical constraints identified by the business analyst, project manager, and other team members in order to determine and craft a combination of Dynamics software, custom enhancements, third party products, and business process changes that will fill the business gap and provide a solution that delivers the documented future state of the organization.

The business analyst and solution architect work closely together during the project.  First, the business analyst works to identify, refine, and bring the stakeholders to agreement on requirements.  The business analyst then presents and communicates the requirements to the solution architect. Next, the solution architect – working with the business analyst – identifies and crafts a solution(s) that meets the client’s needs. The business analyst will then recommend the solution to the stakeholders and document how the solution meets the business need and directly traces back to the requirements.

In summary, the business analyst interfaces with the stakeholders in order to identify business needs and requirements, while the solution architect interfaces with the business analyst to identify and craft a cohesive solution. While the business analyst and solution architect roles are significantly different in the tasks they perform, they both have essentially the same goal in the end: To maximize the business value to the client by delivering a future state to the organization that meets the needs of all the stakeholders.

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