What is the BA’s role in shaping what customer data to store, if at all?
Business analysts have a critical role to play in deciding what a customer data, if any, needs to be stored for a system in development to achieve its objectives.
Two main considerations need to taken into account in arriving at this decision, which include:
What data is necessary for the system to effectively function and produce value for the business?
Taking into consideration requirements elicited and business rules articulated, the following questions must be considered:
- What data needs to be collected for short term use but is not required to be stored?
- What data needs to be collected and stored temporarily?
- What data needs to be collected and stored for longer periods of time?
Questions may be difficult to answer as different stakeholders may have different opinions. A business analyst must be able to keep focused on the objectives of the system under development and what ultimately produces greatest business value.
A business analyst must be able to balance business considerations regarding data with legal requirements. He or she must be aware about the boundaries according to the law and what data is legally allowed to be collected on customers.
In NSW, customer data collected is subject to laws namely, the Privacy & Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) and the Health Records & Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) which governs the manner in which data is collected, stored, used and disclosed. Corporations are prohibited from collecting the following data including details of ethnic/racial origin, political opinions, religious/philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, sexual activities and any previous criminal records.
A pragmatic approach is necessary in arriving at appropriate decisions regarding customer data storage. The general rule is: if you don’t need to collect or store particular customer data – don’t. Customer data should only be collected and stored if it satisfies business needs and legal requirements satisfactorily. A Business Analyst acts as a medium between business (who may not understand what data is necessary for a system to function effectively) and IT (who don’t understand necessarily what data is critical and gives business value). He or she has to tread a fine line to satisfy stakeholders but remain compliant and sensible in a business and legal point of view.