As IT becomes more and more essential to business success, the need for business analysts—who are at the heart of IT’s relationship with end-user organizations—increases.
Despite a slight dip in 2018, business analysts continue to make up a larger portion of the typical IT staff. This is the result of IT organizations focusing less on nuts-and-bolts infrastructure support and more on what we call “white-collar” IT functions—such as business and data analysts—that directly touch the business. In other words, as cloud computing and virtualization lessen the need for data center staff, a greater percentage of the IT staff is shifting to the business side of the IT organization. Business analysts are a prime example.
Figure 1 from our full report, Business Analyst Staffing Ratios, shows that business analysts as a percentage of the IT staff has taken a slight dip from the previous year at 7.7% of the IT staff at the median. But, this is still up from 7.3% in 2016 and 6.3% in 2013. Business application investment continues to grow. Generally speaking, the more applications a company has, the more it needs analysts to specify their business requirements and help users make effective use of those applications.
“Despite the increasing need for business analysts, these are not easy positions to fill,” said Tom Dunlap, director of research of Computer Economics, a research firm in Irvine, Calif. “They require a unique mix of skills—technical knowledge, business perspective, and interpersonal skills. Companies also want their analysts to have industry-specific experience, which adds to the hiring challenge.”
In our report, we use a broad definition of business analysts. Typical roles include:
Business analysts, who gather user requirements, define business processes, and help design, document, and deploy solutions using information systems.
Any staff member who, regardless of title, serves as a primary liaison between users and IT, represents the user community to the IT group, and ensures that IT systems are used effectively by the organization.
The question of how many such analysts an organization needs is also a difficult one, as the practice of using business analysts varies widely. In our full report, we assess typical staffing levels using four metrics: business analysts as a percentage of the IT staff, business analysts as a percentage of the Application Group, applications per business analyst, and users per business analyst. We also assess differences by organization size and sector.
This Research Byte is a brief overview of our management advisory 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).