Information technology is used by businesses for many functions. They get IT workers to build websites, support their systems, develop applications, and build servers. However, the role of all IT workers can be covered by one term – to better allow a business to perform its processes.
What does this even mean? Well, companies don’t hire IT workers just because they can. They hire IT workers because they realise the benefits that IT can have to their organisation. This can involve increasing profits, reducing costs, increasing market share and awareness, and other areas. All of them involve taking a process and using technology to assist it.
This is a very important point to remember when working in IT – build the system around the process, not the other way around.
The Role of the Business Analyst
The start of an IT project is where you work out what the project is for. A business analyst will usually be asked to determine these requirements. If a new system is being built, they will need to work out what the system is going to be used for and what it will do. To do this, the business analyst will need to know the process that the system is trying to achieve.
Take an automatic teller machine, for example. It has a computer inside it that shows prompts to the person who uses it, and does various functions. The main process or aim of the ATM is to allow people to put their card in, and withdraw money. The system inside the ATM was designed around this process.
Building the system around the process is something to remember for the entire project. It can be considered when making decisions during the project, about the design or requirements or other areas.
Delivering Benefit to the Users
The reason the system is designed around the process is to deliver the maximum benefit to the people who use the system. Most of the time the users will be performing a certain process – either largely manual or using a system. You can, of course, modify the process that they use. However, this needs to be part of the analysis stage of the project. Just because it’s done one way, doesn’t mean it needs to be continued. The benefit to the users needs to be considered when building the system. If you’ve gotten to know how your employer works and what the areas of the business do, it makes this part easier.
One way to picture this, is instead of saying “This is what the system will do”, ask “What would you like the system to do?”
Build The System For Saving Costs
The people who make the decisions on the projects for the companies – whether or not a project is started or not – perform what’s known as a Cost Benefit Analysis. It essentially tries to answer, “If we spend $X, how much money will we make or save from doing this project?” Many systems are built to save costs, by improving existing systems, consolidating many systems, or turning a manual process into a more automated one. In each of these cases, the existing process needs to be considered, and if done correctly, will deliver a greater benefit to the company.