One of the "specialties" to arise is the Business Analyst. Although some organizations have utilized this title in non-IT aspects of the business, it's an appropriate description for the role that functions as the bridge between people in business and IT. The use of the word "Business" is a constant reminder that any application software developed by an organization should further improve its business operations, either by increasing income, reducing costs, or increasing service level to the customers.
History of the Business Analyst Function in the 1980s when the software development life cycle was well accepted as a necessary step, people doing this work typically came from a technical background and were working in the IT organization. They understood the application development process and often had programming encounter. They used textual requirements along with ANSI flowcharts, data-flow diagrams, database diagrams, and prototypes. The biggest complaint about software development was the length of time required to develop a system that didn't always meet the business needs. Business people had become accustomed to sophisticated software and wanted it better and faster.
In reaction to the demand for speed, a class of development tools referred to as CASE (Computer Helped Software Engineering) have been invented. These tools were designed to capture requirements and use them to manage a software development project from beginning to end. They required a strict adherence to a methodology, involved an extended learning curve, and often alienated the company community from the particular development process due to the unfamiliar symbols found in the diagrams. As it teams struggled to learn to use CASE tools, PCs (personal computers) began to appear in large numbers on desktops around the organization. Suddenly anyone could be a computer programmer, artist and user.
IT teams were still perfecting their management of a central mainframe computer and then suddenly had hundreds of independent computers to handle. Client-server technologies emerged as an advanced alternative to the traditional "green screen,” keyboard-based software.
The impact on the software development process was devastating. Methodologies and classic approaches to development needed to be revised to support the new distributed systems technology and the increased sophistication with the computer user prompted the amount of software requests in order to skyrocket. Many business areas got tired of waiting for a large, slow moving IT department to roll-out yet another cumbersome application.
They began learning to do things with regard to themselves, or selecting consultants, often known as Business Analysts, who report directly in their mind, to help along with automation needs. This caused even more problems for IT which was suddenly asked to support software that they'd not written or perhaps approved. Small impartial databases were created everywhere with inconsistent, and often, unprotected data. During this time, the internal Business Analyst role was minimized and as a result many systems did not solve the right business problem causing an increase in maintenance expenses and rework.
New methodologies as well as approaches were developed to respond to the changes, RAD (rapid software development), JAD (joint software development), and OO (object oriented) tools and methods had been developed.
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