Business Analyst : Understanding the job
BUSINESS ANALYST FAST STATS
in business analysis
Average to above average, competitive, high reward
CBAP or PMI-PBA
Business Analyst: Understanding the Job
What is a business analyst ?
Primarily a business analyst makes a project or a larger aspect of an organization work more efficiently towards meeting its goals or its clients’ or partners’ goals. When a business or organization begins a project designed to meet a customer or client need for a new product or service, a business analyst helps to make the process as efficient and streamlined as possible.
Prominent in every business analyst job description is figuring out the key requirements of a project or even of a section of an organization and building solutions, most commonly using information technology, to convert those requirements to products, services, or systems for clients, partners and other stakeholders.
The expertise business analysts draw from generally comes from either education or experience (or both) in information technology within a specific field or business sector. As a result the specifics of a business analyst job description will differ from field to field; however, all business analyst jobs contain many of the same elements and responsibilities.
Top Business Analyst Skills
What business analysts do
Once assigned to a project or focused on a particular aspect of a business or organization, a business analyst’s first stop is to meet with clients, project managers, and other stakeholders to distill what their needs are and create goals that are clear and achievable.
Most business analyst jobs are IT-related. Even when they are not IT-related, business analyst job requirements always center around developing products, systems, or services to meet internal or external stakeholders’ goals and needs.
Once those goals are established, business analysts analyze all essential elements and develop a plan to meet those goals that fits within the business’s or organization’s working parameters (resources, staffing, technology, systems, processes, etc.). This is another part of business analyst job requirements present in all fields -- defining and delineating a project’s requirements.
Once they have identified, analyzed and recorded all the project’s requirements, a business analyst manages them to find efficient and effective solutions for clients and stakeholders. The business analyst relies on members of a project team by supervising, guiding, and training them to use the technological platforms that he/she develops as a business solution to client or organizational need.
'' Great business analysts are creative... they look at the big picture ''
To keep all of this moving toward project completion or organizational goals, the business analyst produces reports, monitors progress, evaluates results, researches innovations and best industry practices to integrate into plans, reports to clients and stakeholders for feedback on what the project has produced so far, and produces regular reports to optimize elements like marketing, budgeting or operations.
What great business analysts do
1. Great business analysts identify requirements.
All business analyst jobs center around requirements, and the best business analysts know it. Great business analysts identify a project’s requirements, analyze how they fit into its scope and objectives, and use them to develop technical solutions that fit client and stakeholder needs and goals.
2. Great business analysts turn requirements into solutions.
Identifying requirements, analyzing them, and developing them into IT solutions is almost more of an art than a skill, though it is the most skilled business analysts that do it best.
3. Great business analysts are creative.
How elegantly this creative process converts project requirements into a new product or service for a client or a new system for an internal stakeholder is what separates good business analysts from great ones.
Great business analysts have a set of technical and soft skills that allow them to:
- Anticipate the need for adjustments to solutions before they become repairs
- Translate business needs into technical needs and vice versa
- Constantly test and analyze project requirements to confirm usefulness and relevance
- Look at the big picture (processes, systems and policies) along with IT when forming solutions.
Typical day as a business analyst
Depending on what stage a project is in, business analysts can be doing any number of things on a given day. That can include meeting with colleagues, senior management and executives to get a firm grasp of all the organization’s systems, processes and functions. Likewise, it can also include meeting with clients to understand their needs and receive feedback.
Business analysts always need to find time to figure out what a project requires by investigating available resources (human, financial, technological, informational). After finding those requirements (data modelling, test cases, etc.) they analyze them in order to strategize a solution or suggest changes to a plan that's already underway.
Part and parcel to this process is communicating with project team members about how to implement the plan and put new IT solutions into use.
It also important at this point to communicate with other departments to make sure new solutions conform with established processes and systems and are more of a benefit organizational goals than a hindrance.
When work on a project is wrapping up, the day shifts to documenting progress, producing reports, and presenting results to stakeholders. Part of the wrap-up process also includes evaluating projects and solutions at this end stage and establishing systems to continue to do so.
Finally, a business analyst must work into their day the upkeep and routine maintenance that must be performed on IT and other aspects of previous solutions.
'' ...a business analyst makes a project or an organization work more efficiently... and meet internal as well as client and partner goals... ''
It's a lot of things to juggle everyday, and it requires a highly skilled and experienced employee to do it.
Business analyst basic duties
- Complete projects and provide solutions under deadline
- Identify, analyze, and document project requirements
- Keep resource allocation within budget
- Research the latest in IT and systems analysis for innovative practices
- Hold meetings with stakeholders to present results, proposals and progress
- Lead and train junior project team members
- Pitch ideas and proposed solutions to management and clients
- Manage solutions so that they prioritize business needs
- Review processes and systems resulting from new solutions to control for efficacy
- Document results of new system use and solution functioning to present to stakeholders
- Evaluate systems and processes towards developing new products, services or IT solutions
Becoming a Business Analyst
Business analyst job requirements
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is pretty much a prerequisite, preferably one in business or some business related field.
A minimum of 5 years experience in business analysis or a related position is necessary. Experience managing projects within a business or organization is valuable and in some instances can replace analyst experience as long as it’s within the specific industry or field of the position you are applying for.
Being a certified business analyst is an excellent supplement to experience and education in the eyes of a hiring organization and certainly deserves mention when writing a business analyst cover letter. The most desirable and widely recognized certifications are:
1) International Institute of Business Analysis’ (IIBA) Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) certification which requires logging 7500 + hours of business analyst experience
2) Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) certification which requires 4500 + hours experience (bachelor’s) and 7500 + hours experience (high school).
Analytical skills are also a must here and can make up for a lack of a business-related bachelor’s degree so long as it is accompanied by experience in business analytics. It is wise to highlight analytical skills in any business analyst cover letter or when answering business analyst interview questions.
Time management and leadership skills are a must; they will be a part of business analyst interview questions and are good points of focus when writing a business analyst cover letter. Other important skills include communication, problem solving, IT skills and interpersonal skills.
Ideal business analyst resume
The most desirable business analyst resume lists years of experience as an analyst in a given field. This includes any experience as an assistant or apprentice to a business analyst or in any business analyst internship.
" The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports business analyst job outlook as optimistic... average business analyst salary comes to $91,853 per year. "
Also attractive on a business analyst resume is education at the bachelor’s or master’s level either in business administration, IT or related fields or else a technical field specific to an industry--like finance for example or architecture. Mastery of IT elements like software design, database management and programming languages (e.g. Microsoft Access, SQL) is a big plus.
Business analyst salary
Considering all of the averages listed by salary.com, the average business analyst salary comes to $91,853 per year. (Note: business analyst salary is listed as business systems analyst salary on salary.com.) The range of business systems analyst salaries based on years of experience, qualifications, and industry spans from just under $60,000 per year to just over $126,000 per year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports business analyst job outlook as optimistic as well as competitive. The BLS job categories that align most closely to business analyst are computer systems analyst and management analyst .
Computer systems analysts median salary in 2017 was $88,270 with a projected 9% job growth (average rate) from 2016-2026, and management analysts had a median salary of $82,450 in 2017 with a projected 14% job growth (faster than average) within the same period.
Is business analyst the right job for me?
The first thing to consider is whether or not you love technical work because most of what a business analyst does is create technical solutions for business needs. This means investing in IT training, keeping up on the latest innovations in IT, software and programming, and perhaps taking a business analyst internship or apprenticeship in a project in a given field.
This will help you gain the experience necessary to build your resume and prepare for business analyst interview questions that want you to discuss your experience.
The next thing to consider is whether or not you have a head for business solutions and creative problem solving for clients or organizations in a given industry. It’s also a good idea to consider whether leading teams through projects and pitching ideas to executives and clients is right for you because these are regular features of the business analyst’s day.
The last thing to consider is whether or not pursuing a certified qualification, being willing to consult or be hired contractually from project to project, and navigating your expertise through a competitive environment is for you. The upside of these challenges is the tremendous potential for accruing expertise in a field, an asset that becomes incredibly marketable as you compile years of experience.
Top business analyst skills
Each project is unique, which makes assembling the right resources, staffing and technical approach to meeting client needs, stakeholder requests and project requirements is a constant exercise in problem solving.
It’s in the job title itself for a good reason. Business analysts analyze information, systems, processes and use the results to build technical pathways to meet project requirements.
Leadership and decision making
Business analysts are responsible for leading teams through individual projects aiming to change a process or a system or produce a new product or service. Strong leadership skills are needed to inspire and motivate team members through the unknown.
They also design the solution that drives the project which makes business analysts the best people to manage its technical implementation and the only people capable of and expected to make decisions about a plan’s direction based on their specific analysis and expertise.
The heart of the business analyst position in most instances is designing technical solutions to client and stakeholder needs based on an analysis of the requirements involved in a specific project or initiative.
That makes knowledge of software design and certain programming languages a must for the successful business analyst.
Communication and interpersonal skills
Business analysts are the go-between for many relationships within a project, including their technical teams, senior management, external clients, IT workers, and product users.
Good written and verbal communication is required of them to hold all of these relationships together just as constructively incorporating feedback from clients and management into projects is a key element of their responsibilities.
Similar or related job titles
- Management analyst
- Systems analyst
- Project manager
- Software developer
- IT business analyst