We now continue the Explore Evolution Engineering series of articles; which tells more about people working in Evolution. Our heroes in this article are Business Analysts (BAs). Let us discuss what they do in Evolution and how they contribute to the development of different Evolution products.
Business Analysis Department
Created at the end of 2018 and led by Ksenija Lace, the Business Analysis department is a fast-growing team within Evolution. We currently have 14 BAs spread between Riga & Minsk, each performing a broad number of duties within different teams in Evolution. Each BA is supporting one or more areas (layers) where they fit best based on skills, competencies and level of expertise.
This is a concise version of our department, but let’s move to see — what are we doing? How do BAs collaborate in Evolution and whom do we help?
What does it mean to be BA in Evolution?
As Evolution is a game development company, it’s natural that most of the BAs are involved in the new game's development — either from a game or from a BackOffice perspective.
Business Analysts actively participate in the game ideation phase, work closely with Product Owners & Product Designers. BAs help not only create a big picture of game flow but also contribute to specifying features details or investigating product improvements. BAs are also helpful when it comes to the identification and analysis of corner cases like no connection, low balance, canceled games, or proposing ideas for player onboarding.
But BAs involvement in the new game development is much bigger and is not limited only to the specific project phases. BAs help with more than that, including:
- Sharing knowledge and maintaining specifications for so-called “common” game elements which must be unified through all the games;
- Creating and maintaining game specifications;
- Collaborating within a game team and BAs community;
- And managing different product dependencies between several teams/ departments.
However Business Analyst activities related to the game development and mentioned above is just the tip of the “iceberg”. BAs are involved in the other layers related to game development.
- Operations ecosystems support
We assist in developing the so-called “Dealer module” system, which is used by game presenters to successfully host the game and by service managers — to monitor the flow of the game. Or collaborate in defining requirements and coming up with UI forms for game-specific tools used by customer support. These tools allow our stakeholders to identify and analyze activities related to each game, game round or even player.
- BackOffice system
There is an extensive BackOffice system in Evolution, used by our employees & clients. And BAs are involved in its development, as well: we work on the requirements for casino and table configurations, specify reports and define the requirements for the game and player analysis tools.
The modern world is all about data and smart decisions made based on them. Collecting data in a good and structurized way is a solid basis for making future decisions. BAs accompany different data related activities like defining the game classification, helping with requirements for data/activity logging and elaborating on the game data models.
We support the activities that allow us to make sure that our products support regulated market requirements and our games are properly integrated into our client systems. As our clients and our players are from different countries we need to be sure that our games are compliant with national market regulations: BAs specify products and features for the certification and analyze requirements for the different regulated markets from more technical and games implementation perspectives.
Our customers are essential for Evolution, therefore we care that their systems are integrated properly with our games. BAs participate in the analysis of custom clients’ requirements and investigate improvements in customer integrations. Additionally, we are involved in the support of existing APIs for our products and specifying the requirements for our new APIs implementation.
- Business process and business architecture
And the last but by no means least and maybe one of the most challenging layers for the Business analysts in Evolution is participation in the business process and business architecture-related projects. Business process automation is one of the focus areas. Another focus area is related to post-merger integration initiatives. And the newest initiative for this part is related to the company’s future vision — “bird-eye” projects. BAs analyze and document new business processes, identify gaps between different solutions and future needs and assist business owners with business system acquisition.
What qualities do BAs need to possess?
We believe our BAs are a little bit like superheroes who can be a helping hand in a lot of initiatives and collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders. And most important — we have a passion and inspiration to create the world’s best games.
We trust that each Business Analyst should have at least a few so-called soft and hard skills listed below, which would allow us to be more successful BAs and perform during daily duties better.
- Critical reasoning
BA is a person who never stops asking ‘why’ questions? Like — why is it important or why is this decision taken? Even if speed matters, BA is the one who proposes to slow it down a little bit and maybe even make one step backward to understand the root cause.
- Ability to process a lot of information
BAs receive and gather a lot of information from various sources. However, not all of them are equally trustworthy. We appreciate it if a person could process the information quickly, still efficiently, doesn’t forget to double-check if the information is valid and guide stakeholders to make rational decisions based on the information analyzed.
- Communication & Negotiation
Communication is everything. A good idea is not really good if it is not articulated properly. BA must have strong communication, negotiation & argumentation skills to prove the idea. It’s exceptionally valuable as BAs work with a lot of stakeholders in Evolution, who often have different views and opinions.
- Concise Documentation
We as Business Analysts believe the documentation must be concise, logically structured and purposeful. We’re working with complex systems and it’s literally impossible to document everything, that’s why the quality and the structure of the documentation really matter.
We used to say that the one picture is worth a thousand words (rephrased from F.R.Barnard's “One look is worth a thousand words”). Thus we trust that visualization, prototyping and model/diagram creating skills are important. Nevertheless, the schemes and diagrams must be simple, meaningful and understood by any stakeholder or just suitable for the related target auditorium.
- Interest in UX/UI
We work to offer the players the best user experience and clearly understandable user flow. And we try to pay attention even to the minor details which sometimes have a big impact on players’ journey and behavior. And we like that BAs are plunged into the games and enjoy playing them to explore more and more details, which could be improved.
How we become better
We believe and trust that ongoing growth and our talents/skills improvement are crucial in the 21st century. That’s why we have various activities in our BA community, helping us become better as BA professionals.
We have a common BA knowledge library, where we gather the best practices from our department and embody them in the artifacts and common documentation, checklists, etc. Each BA can find something useful for their activity there.
We have a practice of peer BA review — we contribute to making other BAs work better.
And we love learning and growing together — Business analysts have regular internal workshops, where we gain more knowledge and improve our skills.
How we collaborate
We, as Business analysts value the time we spend together in the BA community and trust that our collaboration is our power. Therefore we organize different activities, which help us collaborate even better.
We have common BA sync meetings & demos (so-called “BA Show and Tell”) where we share what we have done and found out during the previous period. Sometimes we invite other stakeholders to these meetings, too, as we believe that information and knowledge sharing are beneficial to everyone. Such meetings help us obtain feedback and get valuable insights.
We have so-called “BA Health Checks” or the BA retrospectives on a regular basis. They help us reflect on what was good and what — not so ideal during the previous time period. We can share our concerns with our peer BAs and we always know that we will get all the necessary support.
It is important for us to take care of our BA’s newcomers so that they don’t feel lost during their first steps in Evolution. We have created a special pack of activities for new BAs’ onboarding which allows us to share all relevant information with our newcomers and help them start their journey in Evolution. Additionally, experienced BAs are assigned as a mentor for each newcomer, which tries to help with all necessary information and knowledge sharing and provides a helping hand, when necessary.
Can I join the BAs team?
As we are a fast-growing team and trying to take care of more and more interesting areas in Evolution, we are looking for new members in our team. As you hopefully already understand, our work is very interesting, however challenging — therefore we are looking for great and true BAs professionals, which have the passion to create games and would like to join our team.
Still, as we support professional growth and are keen to share our knowledge and be mentors to the younger and less experienced BA mates, we are planning to launch the BA bootcamp this spring (2021). That will be a great opportunity for junior BAs, QAs, or similar role professionals who would be interested in upgrading their knowledge and skills side by side with our experienced Business Analysts. This is a great opportunity to become dynamic BAs — strong enough to face all the exciting challenges in game development, and for the best of Bootcamp graduates — the opportunity to join our BA team in Evolution. For more information about BA’s bootcamp and to apply please click here: Bootcamp [Product Business Analysis].
The article is written by Ksenija Lace (Head of BA department), Ineta Bucena (Lead BA) and Lizaveta Antanovich (Game BA), the illustrations are made by Yauheniya Karol (Lead BA). All we are a part of our lovely Evolution BA family, proud, honored and happy to speak about ourselves and our BA’s community in Evolution.