Business Analyst Staffing Hits Plateau

October, 2012

The business analyst function appears to have leveled off after undergoing a steady rise in the period just prior to the recession, according to our study, Business Analyst Staffing Ratios.

Figure 1 shows that business analysts accounted for an average 5.9% of the IT staff in 2007 for the composite sample. The average rose to 7.6% by 2009. It peaked at 9.9% in 2010 but then fell back to 7.6% in 2011 and 7.7% in 2012.

BusinessAnalystStaff Fig1 - Business Analyst Staffing Hits Plateau

The peak in 2009 appears anomalous. A high rate of staff reductions in other categories in 2010 might account for the temporary jump of business analysts above the trend line. Whatever the cause, we can conclude that business analysts have become a larger portion of the IT staff over time. It also appears that the rise has leveled off since the downturn.

The business analyst serves as a bridge between the IT organization and the users it serves. Business analysts can be a rising element within the IT staff as organizations automate or outsource routine work while adding to functions that add business value or improve service management.

We use averages in Figure 1 to assess historical trends, but for benchmarking purposes percentiles provide a better assessment of the range of values within which a typical organization will fall. In the full study, we assess staffing levels for the business analyst using four metrics. These include business analysts as a percentage of the IT staff, business analysts as a percentage of the application group, and applications per business analyst. We also present ratios by organization size and sector.

In our study, the business analyst category comprises two primary job functions:

  • Business analysts, who gather user requirements, define business processes, and help design solutions using information systems.
  • Customer relationship personnel, who serve as a liaison between users and IT, represent the user community to the IT group, and ensure that IT systems are used effectively by the organization. These IT personnel are often the contact point when systems and services are outsourced to a third-party developer or maintenance organization.

In many companies, the jobs of the business analyst and customer relationship manager are combined, and in others, they have a great deal of overlap in responsibilities. In our study, we use the term business analyst to refer to both functions.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Business Analyst Staffing Ratios. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).

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