Era of Growth Ends for Business Analysts

November, 2013

As a percentage of the IT staff, the business analyst function appears to have leveled off after undergoing a steady rise in the earlier part of the decade.

Figure 1 from our study, Business Analyst Staffing Ratios shows, that business analysts accounted for an average 7.6% of the IT staff in 2009. The average rose to 9.9% in 2010, but then quickly fell back to 7.6%, a level that appears more typical. The decline to 7.1% in 2013 could reflect renewed hiring in other areas such as programming.

Business Analyst Fig 1 - Era of Growth Ends for Business Analysts

The peak in 2010 appears anomalous. While business analysts have become a larger portion of the IT staff over the past decade, that the rise appears in the main to have leveled off. Note that while we use averages to assess historical trends, for benchmarking, the study uses percentiles to provide a better assessment of the range of values within which a typical organization will fall.

The question of how many business analysts an organization needs is a difficult one as the practice of using business analysts can vary widely. In the full study, 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.

In our study, we use a broad definition for our business analyst staffing that embraces IT staff members who have a liaison role between the IT organization and users of business applications. Job titles within companies may vary, but we would include any of the following, or similar job titles, in the business analyst category: business systems analyst, business process analyst, enterprise system analyst, or MIS analyst.

Business analysts sometimes also play roles in project management. However, we place dedicated project managers in a separate staffing category. Similarly, systems analysts go in the application development and maintenance category, unless the job description of systems analyst includes a high level of user interface through the functional specification stage but excludes technical specification for programming.

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).

Do you also need staffing ratios for other IT job functions? Consider this collection of all of our staffing ratio reports, which bundles them all into a single report at a significant discount: IT Staffing Ratios–Special Report Bundle.