TECH TALK : Difference between Functional Consultant and Business Analyst
It appears that one uses the term 'Functional Consultant' when one needs to customize existing applications/products that are large such as an ERP or a CRM. And a Business Analyst would be required when one designs and develops a module/system/application from scratch by understanding the business and its systems.
A Business Analyst is typically a 'sector expert' - someone who has spent time in the industry vertical before getting into the IT domain to do Business Analysis. For example, if some one moves from Financial Services/Banking into IT, he/she could be a Business Analyst focused on the Banking and Financial Services (BFS) domain. Similarly, if someone has spent a lot of time in the Automobile industry or in general the Manufacturing Industry, he could fit into the role of a Business Analyst for that domain quite easily. While one may not always find Business Analysts who are specialists from that industry/domain, one would expect to.
However, a Functional Consultant is expected to have a very good understanding of the product - an ERP system such as SAP or a Customer Relationship Management system such as MS CRM. Their understanding of the product and its modules help them in customizing it to companies in various domains.
Role of a Functional Consultant in an End To End Implementation:
1. A functional consultant is expected to generate knowledge about the current business process, design current business flows, study current business processes and its complication - in all we can say that this is getting through with the current business setup. Flow diagrams are prepared- all this forms the part of the AS IS document.
2. Everything configured has to be documented according to their categories in the form of predefined templates; these then have to be approved by the team leads or who ever the consultant is reporting to.
3. Mapping and GAP analysis is done for each module.
4. Before starting configuring future business processes in SAP, the DFDs/ERDs are prepared, this documentation is called TO BE, which can be also said as the result of mapping and gap analysis.
5. Sometimes Functional consultants are also expected to prepare test scripts for testing the configured scenarios. Testing may also include Unit testing, System Integration Testing, Performance Testing, User Acceptance Testing, Regression Testing or any client specific software testing.
6. A configuration document showing all the setting done by the consultant is also comes under the area of role & responsibilities of consultant.
7. End user manual and user training is also expected from Functional Consultants.
8. Updation of project status to Project Manager & other concerned persons.
9. Interaction with core team members, end users & other team members.
10. A Functional consultant has to be a good communicator he has to communicate with Customer ERP core team, implementing team, Technical consultant and his project leader.