A brief History of Business Analysis

What is Business Analysis?
Business Analysis is the practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. The set of tasks and techniques that are used to perform business analysis are defined in A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®Guide).
Who is a Business Analyst?
Job titles for business analysis practitioners include not only business analyst, but also business systems analyst, systems analyst, requirements engineer, process analyst, product manager, product owner, enterprise analyst, business architect, management consultant, business intelligence analyst, data scientist, and more. Many other jobs, such as management, project management, product management, software development, quality assurance and interaction design rely heavily on business analysis skills for success.
Business Analysis Helps Businesses Do Better
The Business Analyst is an agent of change. Business Analysis is a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.
Business analysis is used to identify and articulate the need for change in how organizations work, and to facilitate that change. As business analysts, we identify and define the solutions that will maximize the value delivered by an organization to its stakeholders. Business analysts work across all levels of an organization and may be involved in everything from defining strategy, to creating the enterprise architecture, to taking a leadership role by defining the goals and requirements for programs and projects or supporting continuous improvement in its technology and processes.
We have the specialized knowledge to act as a guide and lead the business through unknown or unmapped territory, to get it to its desired destination. The value of business analysis is in realization of benefits, avoidance of cost, and identification of new opportunities, understanding of required capabilities and modeling the organization. Through the effective use of business analysis, we can ensure an organization realizes these benefits, ultimately improving the way they do business.
Business Analysis practices in the past
 Business Analysis has been in practices since the onset of Mesolithic era (Middle of Old Stone Age) when our ancestors started to learn the techniques of adaptation to changing natural environment and started using innovation upon their understanding of problems and opportunity. Across the Neolithic era, Bronze Age, Iron Age and after flourishing of modern civilization, this branch of applied knowledge has been practiced on daily basis knowingly or unknowingly.
Aristotle (382-322B.C) mentioned that division and departmentalizing of labor has been something the society and the business have putting down in paper proposed theories and solutions for. These theories and solutions are the important aspects of Business Analysis and responsible for mapping processes, and reengineering or modifying them
In 1776, Adam Smith published the first example of a business process, the production of a pin. He showed that by identifying the steps in a process, one could use division of labor and hence improving the quality of the product and the speed of its production. His publication in fact open the avenues of thoughts toward birth of a new branch of applied knowledge- Business Analysis
Emerging of a new branch of Knowledge- Business Analysis.
 As a practice within an organization, it started in the 1940s when the first programmable computer was birthed. Then, the use of computer systems was primarily by the government, universities and the organizations that invented them. In addition, they were not very efficient, for example storing data was difficult due to a large amount of space it consumed.
As we all know, change is inevitable. Things changed in the early ’90s leading to a rapid increase in the need to incorporate the use of IT in businesses. Data storage was enhanced user-friendly programs and interfaces were invented. As a result, the demand for software programmers grew significantly.
The value of technology was apparent, but large sum of money was being spent on software rewrites, updates to meet business needs, maintenance costs and resolving software defects.
No matter how expert the Business users and the Programmers were in their area of discipline, communication between them was hard. Business users could not speak the technical language to specify their needs effectively. The Programmers, on the other hand, could not always interpret what the business users were trying to convey. Thus, Business Analysis was born!
Growth and Development of Business Analysis
At first, Business Analysts were usually called Systems Analysts and the role was typically focused on software engineering. This was not practical due to the lack of understanding when gathering requirement. Therefore, in order to support the business model, the role of the Business Analyst had to be developed and has done so over the last twenty years. For IT systems to deliver success for the business, business needs must drive the development of technology solutions, business changes must be reflected in IT, and an accurate definition of the IT requirements must be given. These three components are what Business Analysis comprises of in today’s global economy.
And the importance of the Business Analyst has really been recognized in the last decade as businesses more readily seek technology solutions to complicated business problems. But because of the added business focus a Business Analyst provides, businesses have been able to utilize the Business Analyst to solve problems that do not require technology changes such as business process improvement, organization changes and the streamlining of operations. More and more, Business Analysts are becoming involved at an earlier stage of project work where they can not only define the business requirements, but outline the current state and future state of the business as it relates to the business problem and solution. Business Analysts are taking part in the development of business cases with cost/benefit analysis as well as the selection of technologies to support the solution.
Information technology enriches the business offerings by not only supporting core competencies, but giving businesses the ability to focus on those competencies without the distraction of ancillary business operations such as human resources and supply chain. And Business Analysts are at the forefront of this concept since they can speak not only to the technology solution, but how that technology solution should be implemented to meet the market desires. This is how businesses achieve competitive advantage. Not by wasting time and resources on rewrites, maintenance and defects, but putting action in motion to use technology to better reach customers. And the Business Analyst plays a key role in making that vision a reality.
As a result of this, institute like IIBA felt the need to standardize the business analysis practice.
IIBA® (International Institute of Business Analysis™) is an association for business analysts that is dedicated to the advancement of the Business Analysis profession by setting and maintaining global standards for the practice and certification.
In 2003, the International Institute of Business Analysis was founded as an independent non-profit professional association. Some of its objectives were to:

  •  act as the voice of the business analysis community,
  •  support the recognition of the profession
  •  maintain standards for the practice and certification and,
  •  Provide the resources to help individuals enhance and advance their career path.

Bearing these objectives in mind, the Body of knowledge committee was formed in 2004. In 2005, the BABOK Guide was released and a number of certifications program including the CBAP certification program were implemented. Members of the institute have grown in many folds during the timeline. As of 2020, the International Institute of Business Analysis had over 27,000 members, with 109 chapters on 6 continents.
Future of the Business Analyst Role
Today we see Business Analysts coming from both the IT and business areas. In the best situations, the Business Analyst today has a combination of IT and business skills. Each organization has unique titles for these individuals and the structure of Business Analyst groups is as varied as the companies themselves. However, there is a core set of tasks that most Business Analysts are doing regardless of their background or their industry.

The Business Analyst role becomes more critical as project teams become more geographically dispersed. 
Outsourcing and globalization of large corporations have been the driving factors for much of this change recently. When the IT development role no longer resides inside our organizations, it becomes necessary to accurately and completely define the requirements in more detail than ever before. A consistent structured approach, while nice to have in the past, is required to be successful in the new environment. Most organizations will maintain the Business Analyst role as an "in-house" function. As a result, more IT staff are being trained as Business Analysts.

The Business Analyst role will continue to shift its focus from "Software" to "Business System".
Most Business Analysts today are focused on software development and maintenance, but the skills of the Business Analyst can be utilized on a larger scale. An excellent Business Analyst can study a business area and make recommendations about procedural changes, personnel changes, and policy changes in addition to recommending software. The Business Analyst can help improve the business system not just the business software.

The Business Analyst role will continue to evolve as business dictates. 
Future productivity increases will be achieved through re-usability of requirements. Requirements Management will become another key skill in the expanding role of the Business Analyst as organizations mature in their understanding of this critical expertise. The Business Analyst is often described as an "Agent of Change". Having a detailed understanding of the organization's key initiatives, a Business Analyst can lead the way to influence people to adapt to major changes that benefit the organization and its business goals. The role of a Business Analyst is getting much more exiting in the days of 4th Industrial Revolution.

Written by:
Kazi Saiful Hoque CBAP, PMP
President , IIBA- Bangladesh Chapter