How Will a Business Analyst Help Me Develop My App?

by Robert Kazmi
Blog Post

Here at Koombea, we have a team of business analysts (BA) who work tirelessly in the early stages of app development to uncover risks and potentials with any app idea. They work with people in the ideation stage of their app and help us at Koombea determine if the app is a right fit and if it is, BAs let our clients know what to expect when it comes to developing their app.

To demonstrate what we do here at Koombea, we talked with one of our BAs, Ujjwal Jain. Ujjwal gave us inside information on the app development process and what you can expect if you decide to get your app developed.

Like everyone on our team, Ujjwal takes pride and ownership of his part in developing an app. When asked about his role at Koombea, Ujjwal said: “Business Analyst, Presales Consultant, Sales Engineer, Proposal Writer or Product Strategist – if I have to pick one designation for myself, it will be none of these. I would rather be called a Solution Owner because we, the BAs at Koombea, truly own the solution for our clients right from the time you have shared your idea with us. It is our supreme responsibility to ensure that the product is feasible and a complete package without any missing ends.” This sums up the importance of his work perfectly and you can expect that sense of ownership in every stage of the development process that your app goes through.

Let’s take a look at the initial phases of development that your app will go through with insights from Ujjwal:

Pre-Sales Cycle

There are phases of app development that take place even before you agree to come on board with our agency. This is called the “pre-sales cycle” and this is how it typically looks at Koombea:

  • Clients share their idea through a document or an email or we meet over a call. A conversation is always preferred irrespective of any written details
  • What follows is a detailed process of solutioning – understanding your vision, discovering requirements, documenting them, sharing the scope for your feedback – and iterate all over, until it meets our internal standards as well as your expectations
  • A major component of solutioning is ensuring the technical feasibility of the idea. While some of those are straightforward, there are others which are complex/risky. This is where the BA pulls in the best technical minds around for some deep diving
  • BA discusses the challenges and the outcomes of research with you, gives suggestions around improving your idea or filling in the gaps, if any. In fact, we do not shy away from posing some real hard questions or making strong suggestions as if we are an equal equity partner
  • The scope of the project is documented in the form of detailed user stories with a special focus on calling out as many Assumptions, Dependencies and Risks (ADRs) as possible in a bid to mitigate risks to the project and set the right expectations
  • The language of some of these ADRs is strong enough for you to question our capabilities at times. However, we would rather be transparent up front and let go of the project, rather than shying away from calling out the knowns as well as unknowns, a trait which probably 90% of our clients love about us
  • We highly encourage clients to review the scope and share any kind of feedback. We prefer multiple iterations at this stage rather than a misunderstood requirement which comes back to sour the relationship later
  • Finally, the user stories are estimated with a group of highly experienced developers across the tech stack in meetings ranging from 1 to 5 hours, depending on the size and complexity of the project. The BA facilitates the entire exercise by reading each story, explaining the intent, answering queries, making improvements or adding more ADRs based on suggestions from the team
  • Pricing is compiled and shared with the client through Growth Strategists. Your feedback is welcome at every stage and we are happy to iterate on the scope all over again and re-estimate, as long as you are engaged as passionately as we are

Building Feasible Solutions by Analyzing Risks

Is the most vital and time-consuming exercise in this cycle documenting the scope? Not always. Half the times, ensuring feasibility of various moving parts of the product might consume more time. So what are these feasibility concerns like – let’s take some examples:

  • Third party dependencies:
    • An app where users will pool in their funds and play a game which ultimately draws results from a live game being broadcasted internationally. Looks simple? Not to most of the payment gateways which consider this as betting and not work with this
    • An app which is heavily reliant on an external service to an extent that if some changes are made to one of those APIs tomorrow, the app will not be able to function properly. Client must understand this and together, we should look for a better solution
  • Store considerations
    • A lot of apps are rejected by App Store/Play Store for not meeting their guidelines and it is common for our clients to be not aware of such use cases.
  • Legal considerations
    • Keep in mind that finding out if an app is legally viable is up to the client, but, if the BA happens to find such risks, the issue is put forth to the client for awareness and resolution.
  • Technical constraints:
    • While technology can increasingly achieve a lot every new day, there are problems which could not be solved or are too complex to fit into other constraints like budget, timelines or our internal capabilities.
  • Timeline and Budget constraints:
    • The most common of all is that our clients have a limited budget to build out a complicated app. There are times when the timelines for a project are so restrictive that we have to say no to a project if we are convinced that they cannot be realistically met.

As you can see, there can be a lot of risks when developing your app and it is the BA’s responsibility to identify as many loopholes as possible within a limited amount of time. With the able help of other team members, we bring all the risks to the table for discussion with full honesty. While most of our clients love this transparency, there are times when Koombea emerges as a misfit, or vice versa. Koombea takes pride in working with partners who we deem as the right fit and disqualify others with all humility, if needed. So you can rest assured that if we take on your app, it’s a great fit and has a lot of potential.

The Devil’s Advocate and Setting Expectations

A BA is supposed to play the devil’s advocate all the time. We are not here to persuade people to choose Koombea or Koombea to choose clients. A BA’s job is to stay neutral in order to provide valuable insights.

It is our prime objective and mandate to work in the best interest of the solution. We are not blindly saying ‘yes’ to everything. This often leads to healthy and consultative discussions with the client. These discussions, at times, consume significant time as building better solutions require a lot of research. This research is not just carried out by the BA as we have our limitations – both in terms of time and technical knowledge. This is where the senior developers are brought into the process to help build a better solution. However, we ensure that we are communicating overtime with the client either directly or through Growth Strategists, all the while, keeping the relationship intact and progressive.

The BA continues playing a similar role internally. Imagine increased pressure from the sales team to deliver a half baked solution in order to fasten the sales cycle. Or, your sales guy knowingly or unknowingly making a statement about the solution which is not necessarily accurate. It is our responsibility to stand true to our solution calling the truth out loud to keep setting the right expectations for our clients.

Most Valuable Product

There is a tremendous internal focus of the BA team at Koombea to educate our clients and approach a solution from the perspective of it being the minimum viable yet the most valuable solution or product while keeping it within a timeframe and budget. Our favorite clients are those who respect this approach and work passionately with us to build their MVP.

It is important for the new age clients to understand the value of this approach and it is not surprising that most of them do. As the market is so competitive, technologies so short-lived and the customers so savvy, there is no guarantee that your full blown product developed for half a million bucks over 12 months will reap you returns. It is more critical to focus on the most valuable components of your idea, go to market with them fast, seek feedback, learn and improve, and make educated decisions about your product to take it into the right direction.

Koombea does not believe in making big profits from short term clients, rather, making small profits from our long term relationships and making them big over time. That is why the BA team can exercise complete control in delivering smaller MVPs while educating the clients on how and why to think small yet smart. Launching an application is not enough to be successful. After all, there are hundreds of apps being launched everyday and only a handful of them succeed. Launching an application intelligently and keeping a pulse on it to ensure it succeeds is pivotal to our approach.

When your Development Team Takes Over

Once a proposal is signed and deal is closed, the BA, who has been the custodian of the project-related knowledge and collaterals thus far, along with growth strategists, transitions the project to the development team. Detailed internal meetings, called knowledge transfers, are held over many hours, depending on the size and complexity of the project, to ensure that every individual on the development team understands the project as well as anyone else in Koombea.

However, all this does not mean that ideation is over and the solution is frozen. This is never the case. Your development team has the potential to add tons of value to the idea as they make progress through the project. The BA can be pulled back into the discussions again at any point of time as and when needed. However, our presence or absence is not a constraint. Everyone at Koombea carries an experience which is worthy of adding value to your project and it is highly recommended for our clients to keep an open mind to all those future inputs.

Do you have any questions about getting your app idea developed? Feel free to contact us and share your great app idea!

by Robert Kazmi
Blog Post