As a consultant the experience as business analyst varies between engagements. One project may focus on system architecture, the next could require more data analysis and reporting, or requirements gathering, QA testing, development, deployment, and everything in between. I'm well practiced at the development life cycle, and accustomed to the responsibilities for ensuring a project's success.
How many employees should there be? How should responsibilities be divided? Will there be cross-team support, agile methodologies? How many servers are required for each thousand customers, per hundred employees? For large companies the right software decision could save millions of dollars, with better efficiency and hardware architecture.
Beyond the obvious implication of the title, business analysts should find and maximize process methods to enhance a company's process/system effectiveness, deliverables, and thus it's profitability.
Since the responsibilities of a BA can vary between companies and projects, the exact parameters of the position may become muddled. As a consultant I've seen the range of responsibilities requested by clients, from the usual business requirements/process flow charts to system architecture, staff-organizing, QA, product development, product support, and roadmap construction.
My primary experience is as a consultant for enterprise technical solutions. Full-term projects consisted of starting with an SOW and conceptual outline. Then would come meeting with the business groups and IT and begin compiling requirements and system hardware specs. Once requirement documentation was submitted and approved, they would be translated into technical designs, with various supplementary documentation. For technical projects there would be a large focus on configuring or installing hardware architecture, database construction, and content storage.
I am also well experienced with QA testing, issue tracking, bug resolution, and product support. Not every engagement was a full term project, but each provided different experience of the project development lifecycle.
While being an in-house BA can provide a better path to a specialty, being a consultant allowed me to study the practices and methodologies of dozens of companies of varying size and structure. While specialists may be more sought after, I am grateful for the wide range of experience.