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Systems analysts take centre stage

By Kathryn Bolt | June 15, 2012
Systems analysts take centre stage
Kathryn Bolt

As companies increasingly look at boosting efficiencies and controlling costs by improving their business systems, business systems analysts and project managers have become especially sought-after professionals.

To operate more efficiently, organizations are attempting to wring the most out of existing information systems and are designing new systems that support streamlined processes. Companies both large and small want to enable their existing systems to dig deeper into their databases and generate more automated reports, which can help senior executives make better, more informed strategic decisions and avoid wasting valuable resources.

Applying "bandages," or finding temporary fixes, to older systems may have allowed companies to weather the most recent downturn, but these stopgap measures are insufficient for many firms as they encounter the demands of new growth. Many organizations that recognize this are now upgrading their enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages to meet changing demands. This is where the expertise of business systems analysts comes in.

Business systems analysts typically act as a liaison between the business side of an enterprise and the providers of services to the enterprise. They possess functional expertise in one or more of the traditional business processes – such as revenues, expenditures, financial reporting, payroll, general ledger, human resources and treasury – as well as specialized knowledge of one or more of the major ERP systems. By enhancing communication between internal and external parties, business systems analysts minimize costs and delays. It’s not hard to see why their particular combination of expertise makes them so valuable to organizations intent on enhancing their systems.

In both large organizations that possess multiple heterogeneous platforms and midsize businesses with less complex systems, changes to business systems often cause companywide change. As a result, the contributions of business systems analysts as project managers, process improvement specialists and application development leads are critical.

Few organizations – especially small and midsize ones – have, or require, the resources for full-time support of ERP initiatives given the one-time nature of most of these projects. As a result, companies frequently look for consultants or project professionals with the required functional backgrounds and ERP implementation experience combination to serve in business systems analyst roles. Using consultants also helps a company prevent internal bias or politics in the system selection process. Interim business systems analysts are not salespeople; they’re independent from any vendors.

As companies embark on projects to help them take greater advantage of the data that resides in various places in their organizations, business systems analysts can enter the process at any point. Ideally, however, they’re present early on to help the company determine its future business needs, then to take the process improvement recommendations that have been identified and roll them into the future state.

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