Looking for a SharePoint Business Analyst

Things are moving fairly quickly with my new GTconsult team. We think we’ve found a perfect home in downtown Bellevue, and are trying to negotiate terms. We’re talking with a couple technical resources, but there’s one big gap: I am looking to hire a SharePoint business analyst for my team.

The BA is one of the most underappreciated roles in IT, in my view, but if well utilized this person can be one of the most critical functions in your organization. Within many companies, a BA is viewed as being junior to project managers, with the perception that all BA’s aspiring to the PM role. In my experience, this has never been the case. At companies like Cisco and HP, I worked with very senior folks with the BA title who were “the” subject matter experts for business critical systems. At the more junior level you would find your project managers, most of them young and closer to entry-level in experience. Prior to moving into Evangelism roles at my last two companies, I spent a good portion of my career managing PM and BA teams, spinning up project management organizations (PMOs), and working with both as an outside consultant. The roles of BA and PM are distinct, the skill sets are different.

In presentations on migration and planning best practices for SharePoint, I often remark that every new SharePoint project begins as a business analyst activity. What is the role of the business analyst, and how does it fit into a successful SharePoint strategy? While there are different kinds of business analysts (Requirements Analyst, Business Process Analyst, Organizational Analyst, IT Business Analyst, Systems Analyst, Reporting Analyst, etc) the core functions of this role remain fairly consistent.

The role of the business analyst is to:

  1. Understand (holistically) what the business does, and how it operates day-to-day
  2. Examine existing business processes (the discrete workloads for each team or business unit)
  3. Identify gaps in those processes, and any opportunities for improvement and automation
  4. Capture requirements and create mockups as you go, helping you to refine your understanding of the requirements and also to confirm what your end users (or customers) want to achieve
  5. Generate technical requirements based on that refined understanding, and work with engineering to develop proof of concept solutions (for final approval and to help engineering to have a clear picture of what is to be delivered)
  6. Spearhead enablement by helping implement the new processes, features, and tools
  7. Document the improvements, measure their success again your end user / customer expectations, and then repeat the process

It takes a certain kind of person to succeed in this sort of role – especially in the world of SharePoint. Experience has shown that few organizations properly staff their administration team, much less provide the SharePoint team with a dedicated — or even a part-time – business analyst resource. SharePoint is generally grossly understaffed.

It goes without saying that proper staffing is critical to successful deployment and ongoing maintenance of SharePoint. A good BA will help your organization both streamline business processes and also automate your SharePoint environment. In most organizations (who are grossly understaffed, remember) the BA function may be filled by the same person/people that administer the platform. When that happens, there tends to be a lack of accountability for these activities, which impacts your SharePoint admin team’s ability to properly assess what the end users want. I would venture that a lack of understanding of key business processes, and the gaps between what SharePoint provides out-of-the-box and what it is capable of doing, is at the heart of most end user adoption issues.

If you haven’t properly defined the problem, you’re not going to build the right solution, plain and simple. And that’s why the business analyst function is so critical to SharePoint.

If this is the role that describes what you do, and you’re interested in joining a fast-growing SharePoint service company, please reach out to me through the GTconsult.com website. Thx

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.