Product design and design thinking are major buzzwords today mainly with IT services delivery and product development companies. It is fast encroaching on the job role of business analysts and UI / UX engineers. But is it the same? Will the business analyst role become obsolete? Is there life beyond product design for a business analyst? Is everything lost for a business analyst who failed to ace a product design job interview?
This article intends to clear the air between business analysis and product design and to discuss about the endless possibilities for a business analyst.
What does a Business Analysts Do?
IIBA® defines the business analyst as anyone performing the role of an analyst in an organization. They further emphasize the fact that it can be anyone playing the analyst role including an HR analyst, finance analyst, market analyst, UI / UX engineer, Quality assurance engineer, legal consultant, management consultant, process consultant and so on.
BABOK™ Version 3.0 defines business analysis as follows.
“Business Analysis is the practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs & recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysis enables an enterprise to articulate needs & the rationale for change, & to design & describe solutions that can deliver value.”
The main objective of any organization is first of all to maintain its current financial position and then to thrive and improve to a more superior state. Organizations face a many a constraint from the environment or the context that they are operating in which may include PESTEL factors and threats posed by the industry as explained through Porter’s 5 forces.
The business analyst is a catalyst that identifies and facilitates this need for change. The business analyst is expected to study the context and the different factors, study the resources and capabilities of the organization along with its strategic objectives to recommend solutions that can deliver superior value to the key stakeholders.
The solution that the business analyst recommends can be a product, service or even a simple change in the business process. So, it is obvious that conceptualizing, defining and designing a product is just one facet of the role of a business analyst. The business analyst can get involved in studying existing business processes of a manufacturing organization, understand the pain points and problems faced on the workflow and suggest solutions to overcome those problems. Similarly, a business analyst may study the trends and patterns in consumption of a brand, study competing alternative products in the market and suggest improvements to the product or the marketing strategy. A business analyst can even be an advocate to a company CEO or the board of directors where he if equipped with sound business and technical knowledge can become a trusted advisor and thereby propose new business opportunities and business cases. So as we can see, there are endless possibilities to play a role of a business analyst.
So, Who is a Product Designer?
Product design can be identified as a subset of solution design. It stems from the broader concept of industrial design that is the application of concepts of product design in a mass scale. The role of a product designer is to combine their knowledge about business, technology and engineering to design functional products that are useful to the end users.
One of the major schools of thought in terms of product design is the Stanford School of design. Product design according to them is the process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing the product. It is a human-centered design process where the design thinker is first of all expected to understand the problem they are about to solve as their own. Through techniques such as persona mapping, user journey mapping etc. the designer identifies and frames the design problem. Then multiple ideas are created to give a suitable solution for the problem the then moves to the stage of prototyping of the selected idea. The workable prototype is demonstrated to the user where actual testing of the product is made with real users and feedback incorporated in a quick and efficient manner.
Hence, we can see that the product designer role is to do with defining and developing a product as a solution to a problem faced by a stakeholder within a certain context.
So in conclusion, do not worry if you are unable to ace your next business analyst interview. You may have failed just one product design related business analysis job opportunity. Try for other business analysis opportunities that you are interested in. if you are interested in doing product designer type business analysis work now you know one place from which you can get the required information – The Stanford School of Product Design!!