11 September 2007

The Business Analyst as Senior User

Here is a concept from Prince 2 care of Max Wideman’s project management site.

“The Senior User is responsible for the specification of the needs of all those who will use the product(s), commitment of any required user resources, for user liaison with the project team and for monitoring that the solution will meet those needs within the constraints of the Business Case in terms of quality, functionality and ease of use.”

Additionally, Agile projects pair programmers up with business users who sit there to articulate requirements and offer feedback to design decision and solution construction as they go.

Naturally businesses that have the good sense to have business analysts on board will use the BA in this role rather than an actual frontline user as BA’s have a better ability to analyse and articulate ideas.

So, Business Analysts can be viewed as senior users, right?

What do the project managers that visit this site have to say about that idea? Especially when it comes to user acceptance testing?


  1. The BA can perfectly support the user community. He can bring them much needed experience to help them with the complex world of software. The BA can never replace the senior user. In the end the user community has to take their responsibility themselves.

  2. I completely agree with Bas. The BA represents the user before the development team and they are the first person to do the functionality and usability tests but not the last.

    Finally, the users should make their acceptance tests by themselves.

  3. Do you think this because the senior user is the best person to understand the needs of the business, or because of the act of accepting the system?

  4. For the act of accepting the system. :)

  5. BAs in my opinion are also proxy-users.

    But as BAs we have to be careful not to start becoming barriers of communication and start taking decision on behalf of the user that we shouldn't be taking. It's a fine line.

    A user is a user is a user. We should collaborate with them, represent them, but not replace them.

  6. Anonymous10:16 pm

    BA's are definately proxy users. Nothing more. Build, design and represent what users need.

    Keep it simple. Win hearts.

    SNJ Technology Consulting
    Professional Business Analyst Services


  7. So we have a few opinions;

    BAs can be advocates of the user community (and client/sponsor.)

    BAs can be proxy users - once they deeply understand the client/ sponsor's business. (This is where the brodge between tech and business analogy kicks in.)

    There is a gap however; often front line users and SMEs are not firmly aligned with the sponsor's objectives.

    An example is a cost reduction project n a customer service environment. SMEs and frontline users may avocate a set of requirements that drive costs up, contrary to the sponsor's plans.

    How is this reconciled?