To develop a better understanding of the practice of business and systems analysis, we adopted the boundary practice lens to view business analysis as a boundary practice between users and IT staff. This paper presents findings from an interpretive case study of a group of business analysts working within a large public sector university. We find that business analysts are largely expected to ‘protect’ the users and IT staff from each other. The business analysts’ location in the organisation structure and previous work experience in business or IT is likely to influence (a) the focus of their work (b) the closeness and trust developed with users and IT staff and (c) their legitimacy in spanning users and IT staff. To be able to bring about agreed requirements specifications that are both technically possible to realise and can be delivered at an acceptable cost, but also will result in a system that is suitable for the business purpose and easy to use, business analysts need to negotiate a middle path between users and IT staff. Because business analysts need to work effectively with IT and the business and move easily between the respective cultures, learning outcomes in the education of BAs need to emphasise (a) dealing with social and political context of both business requirements and technical/economic feasibility and (b) using distinct skills, knowledge, tools, and techniques in dealing with users and IT.



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