Hint: It's the position or team of positions that determine whether your IT department is just a support staff for the rest of the business or an integral part of the business itself.

It's the business analyist and even most small businesses have at least one person wearing this hat.

According to Computer Economics , 69% of small businesses have a business analyst, while 84% of midsize businesses do, as well.

So what exactly is the role of business analysis in an organization?

The BA team (or person) is typically based in the IT department with a dotted line on the staffing chart connecting to any and all business units.

The BA is responsible for making sure the business units are fully using technologies to execute their goals and identify any new opportunities that would be made possible by streamlined technologies.

The BA is a hybrid professional with both an IT and business background. Think IT professional who went back to school and got their MBA.

You do not want to convert a developer, who has no business savvy, into a BA position. This is a common mistake and often with disasterous results.

A good business analyst:

- has excellent verbal and written communication skills. They'll need them to facillitate collaboration among the many different departments and audiences.

- has strong project management chops.

- understands the mission and current goals and strategies of the company.

- lives and dies by sound metrics assessing all business intelligence moves.Success is not voodoo. It comes in the form of measurable data.

- has access to top level management with the freedom to tell truth to power.

- focuses on increasing efficiency, executing strategy, overseeing project deadlines, identifying needs and coming up with solutions,