What does a Business Analyst do?
A business analyst is someone who analyses the data of an organisation (past and present) to arrive at strategies and processes that can make the organisation more efficient, effective and profitable. They can do this by suggesting improvements in processes, services, products or hardware or software in use, integrating technology, or even strategic decision making.
A business analyst also acts as a bridge between the technical and business departments in any organisation, facilitating communication between the two.
In a nutshell then, as a business analyst here are some thing you will be responsible for:
- Analysing a company’s data and strategising to improve overall efficiency. This includes outlining problems as well as opportunities, and suggesting solutions.
- Keeping pace with the latest business practices, trends and IT breakthroughs to keep systems up to date.
- Assessing potential dangers to the organisation or projects and suggesting ways to mitigate them.
- Reporting to stakeholders like business partners, technicians and clients, and being able to define business requirements for them.
- Budgeting and allocating business resources effectively to keep processes cost effective.
- Business analysts can also be responsible for effective pricing.
Doing each of these requires a great deal of good knowledge, skill and effort. Hence it is crucial for business analysts to both nurture the requisite skills early on as well as go through the necessary training to level up their skills and knowledge. Let’s look at each of these separately.
What are some of the skills that will help you to be a better business analyst?
Business analysts must have a range of skills that will help them complete the tasks assigned to them. However, most employers also specifically look for expertise or experience in their specific domain. So if you are looking to join any particular sector as a Business Analyst, it pays to be well-acquainted with the workings of that sector.
Having said that, when organisations hire experienced business analysts, in addition to having experience in their particular field, they are also sure to assess a number of other universal skill sets that a Business Analyst must be able to demonstrate. So, if you are planning to pursue a career as a Business Analyst, here are some skills you should look to build up:
- Analytical and critical thinking - This is one given, especially considering the name of the role. As a Business analyst, whatever you do will have to be guided by the insights you glean by critically analysing data.
- Interpersonal and communication skills - A business analyst is responsible for formulating solutions but they are not always the ones executing these. Hence, they must have the skills to communicate their understanding and work together with other stakeholders.
- Negotiation skills - This is another key skill that is necessary when working within a diverse team where one is responsible for suggesting often drastic changes.
- Decision making skills - As the person analysing the trends and the data, you will be responsible for the decisions that will be made.
- Documentation and presentation skills - This one is particularly important when you consider that proper documentation and presentation skills will only help your organisation thrive.
The best way to acquire these skills is to begin by learning from experts in the field or take part in different workshops, meetings and other valuable groups. Many of these skills can also be acquired from unrelated activities that you may be able to engage in, in your free time. If you are a fresher aiming to build a full time career in the field, you can even acquire these skills by working upon real time projects or by purchasing authentic online courses with domain specialisation.
What is the training required to be a Business Analyst?
At the core of a business analyst’s job lies the responsibility to figure out the answers to what is actually needed by the business for it to move in the right direction. But what about the steps a budding business analyst must take to move in the right direction?
While a business analyst must start with studying relevant subjects in school that gives him or her the skills they need for the job, for the graduate level you should look at getting a bachelor's degree in quantitative fields like: economics, finance, data science, computer science and statistics. Specialisation is another relevant thing to have. This can come in the form of a master's degree or advanced courses, certification, or bootcamps. Often, earning a certification can help you to excel in the future. Here are a few certifications that you can consider:
- PMI Professional in Business Analytics (PMI-BBA)
- Post graduate program in Business analysis
- IIBA Entry certificate in Business Analysis
Having covered the skills and training, let's now take a look at professional opportunities.
What are some of the job opportunities in this domain?
While this list is in no way exhaustive, here are some of the top job opportunities in the field:
- IT Business Analysts: These roles usually go to IT or Software Engineering graduates with a specialisation in Business analysis. Their main job role is requirement gathering and working on bridging the gap between product capabilities and client requirements.
- Consulting Business Analysts: These are the analysts who you will find working for big organisations like BCG, McKinsey and many others. Their role is to conduct primary research, analyse information and thereafter prepare presentations and reports to address arising issues and provide solutions.
- Business analytics professionals: These professionals are found in various sectors. They are tech oriented and they collect and analyse information with the help of different analytical tools and techniques.
To conclude, a business analyst’s mission is to either improve the way applications are utilised in the contemporary business environment or maximise the effectiveness of a business firm, and in some cases both. They also command some of the most competitive salary packages, and their roles are increasingly becoming indispensable for organisations big and small. Are you thinking this is the right space for you now?