A Business Analyst:
A Business Analyst is a person in an organization who has been carved out from the Systems Analyst role. Now, a System Analyst is more of a Technical Analyst and works on the basis of business requirements gathered by a Business Analyst. A Business Analyst is responsible for requirements management and managing customer expectations.
The need for a Business Analyst has been due to the fact that based on research reports, the top most reason for failure of multiple software projects has been due to getting incorrect and incomplete requirements of a client or a project.
It has been found that technical jargon used by technology teams has been very confusing to lay users. If a Business Analyst is a technical person, he is also supposed to have additional attributes of good communication skills, knowledge of tools and methodologies of Business Analysis.
Business Analyst Roles:
The role of a Business Analyst varies greatly depending on the nature of the organization. A Business Analyst might have different roles in different organizations based on his responsibilities:
- Business Analyst
- Requirement Analyst
- Functional Consultant
- Account/Relationship Manager
- Post-sales Analyst
- System Analyst
- Functional Analyst
Business Analyst Skills and Competencies:
A Business Analyst is required to have the knowledge of Business Domain, Management, Software Development Life Cycle and Documentation in general. He is also supposed to have the ability to effectively communicate with client and project teams, negotiate, organize and analyze large amount of data and visualize an appropriate solution for the problem. A Business Analyst should have the capability to sit in the client’s shoes so as to be able to understand needs of the client and bring them to surface.
Few specific skills are required to carry out a Business Analyst role and these include the following:
- Logical and Analytical Skills
A Business Analyst should have the ability to think logically and grasp a logical discussion from the beginning of a project to the end phase of the project. This allows a Business Analyst to analyze, describe, evaluate data and validate the requirements. He has to first assess the suggestions and opinions provided by the stakeholders and consider the consequences before making a proposal. At the same time, a Business Analyst has to be outstandingly Analytical in his approach that would benefit him in performing his job without any difficulty. Strong analytical skills are an integral part of a Business Analyst job to carry out his analysis of the requirement successfully. Analytical skills help a Business Analyst to interpret customer’s requirements and translate them into operational requirements correctly. Analytical thinking results in additional knowledge and ideas about a problem area of a business.
- Technical Skills
A Business Analyst must have technical skills to interpret business requirements into technology language correctly to be understood by technology teams/stakeholders. Technical skills help a Business Analyst to bridge the gap between its business problems and technical solutions. A Business Analyst with strong technical skills has the ability to develop the technical artifacts from business requirements.
A Business Analyst having technical skills gets involved in the process of analyzing, transforming and finding resolution finally to the existing business problems using technology.
- Leadership Skills
A Business Analyst has different responsibilities in an organization. One of the major responsibilities of a Business Analyst is to be a successful leader. A successful Business Analyst is the one who has tremendous leadership skills and is capable of managing a team of Business Analysts in delivering the requirements as per the business rules specified. Strong leadership skills allow a Business Analyst to manage the whole requirements process that involves relationship building with multiple stakeholders who are the major source of the business or project requirements.
Leadership skills make a Business Analyst more oriented towards the project delivery and allow them to be responsible for resolving everything from documentation to interpersonal issues. A Business Analyst with strong leadership skills is able to manage the project scope and also to analyze the updates for any major changes in project schedule.
- Communication Skills
A Business Analyst should have excellent communication skills to communicate at all levels for successful project execution and delivery. A Business Analyst should be able to communicate each and every stakeholder about any updates each and everywhere to be clear. He should be able to deliver his message clearly that is easy to apprehend and simple to understand.
A Business Analyst with effective communication skills avoids technical jargons and makes sure that the project updates, status reports are on the top with clear and precise action items. A Business Analyst with good communication skills avoids using vague sentences and makes clear objectives. For example, instead of using a sentence like “We would need to discuss about it as soon as possible”, he specifies a particular delivery date and says “To meet the project deadline, we need to speak today at a particular time”. The communication can be in any form that includes:
- Spoken Communication:
Good communication skills allow a Business Analyst to communicate what is already documented clearly and accessible to all the stakeholders. It also allows a Business Analyst to make sure that he avoids speaking alone and keeps his tone always positive. If a Business Analyst gets frustrated or writes something negative in a presentation or a message, it will leave a bad remark and people will refrain from listening to the Business Analyst.
- Written Communication:
A Business Analyst has to be well communicative in his emails, requirements and surveys. However it is a great challenge for a Business Analyst to make the requirements simple to be understood by the audience, written communications offer the Business Analyst capability of writing a pile of information in an uncomplicated form effortlessly.
- Listening Skills
Listening skills play an important role for a Business Analyst to successfully complete his job. A Business Analyst is supposed to have good listening skills to understand the requirements clearly. He should be an active listener to comprehend what the speaker is trying to communicate. Active listening allows a Business Analyst to repeat back after hearing from the listener and verbalize his interpretation so that the speaker can elucidate and eliminate any presumption or expectation.
- Knowledge of Business and Technology Domains
A Business Analyst is required to have good knowledge of business and technology domains to clearly apprehend the business needs. If a Business Analyst possesses good knowledge of domain and its associated business processes, he will be able to yield the positive results and accomplish the main objectives.
From a Business Analyst standpoint, there are a few specific domains for which Business Analysts are always desired and these are as follows:
- Banking, Financial Services and Insurance
Earlier, organizations started hiring professionals such as MBAs, Chartered Accountants who possess good understanding of business and can be molded into Business Analysts. MBAs from all specializations have been in demand for Business Analyst role; however few organizations have different criteria of certifications for Business Analyst role in their organizations.
The International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) is an authoritative body that certifies Business Analyst practitioners. The IIBA has identified a set of knowledge areas that a Business Analyst must bring to his practice. There are 4 important certifications a Business Analyst should do:
- ECBA (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis)
ECBA (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis) is level 1 certification for Business Analysts that encloses key fundamental knowledge and concepts to understand how to approach business analysis based on BABOK. This is the very basic course of business analysis and is designed for the following individuals:
- Students looking for a new career
- Professionals looking for new opportunity in Business Analysis
- Individuals entering to the Business Analysis Profession
Eligibility Criteria for ECBA (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis)
The eligibility criteria for ECBA (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis) certification are as follows:
- Experience required – No
- Knowledge Area Expertise – No
- Professional Development Training Required – Yes, Minimum 21 Hours in last 4 years
- CCBA (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis)
CCBA (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis) is a level 2 professional certification that enables Business Analysis Practitioners to get formal recognition for their skills and expertise. This certification allows Business Analysts to show their ability to take bigger responsibilities. This certification is also based on The BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) Guide.
To earn CCBA (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis), a Business Analyst has to be knowledgeable in six areas defined by The BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) Guide.
Eligibility Criteria for CCBA (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis)
The eligibility criteria for CCBA (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis) certification are as follows:
- Experience Required in Business Analysis – Yes, minimum 3750 in line with The BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) Guide in last 7 years
- Knowledge Area Expertise – Yes, minimum 900 hours in two areas each of six knowledge areas OR Minimum 500 hours in four areas each of six knowledge areas
- Professional Development Training – Yes, minimum 21 hours in the past four years
- References – Two references from a career manager/client OR a CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) recipient
- CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional)
Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) is a level 3 professional certification that is given to those candidates having substantial experience in Business Analysis.
- Eligibility Criteria for CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional)
The eligibility criteria for CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certification are as follows:
- Experience Required in Business Analysis – Yes, minimum five years with 7500 hours recorded Business Analysis activities against Business Analyst tasks and projects.
- Knowledge Area Expertise – Yes, minimum four of six knowledge areas
- Professional Development Training – Yes, minimum 35 hours in the last four years
- References – Two references from a career manager/client OR a CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) recipient
- CBATL (Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader)
CBATL (Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader) is a level 4 professional certification for Business Analysts.This certification is for the individuals who have more than 10 years of work experience in Business Analysis.
Eligibility Criteria for CBATL (Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader)
The eligibility criterion for CBATL (Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader) certification is as follows:
- Experience Required in Business Analysis – Yes, minimum ten years with 15000 hours of experience
Business Analyst Jobs and Careers:
A Business Analyst has been in demand for the past more than a decade and has become very popular in the industry. In organizations a need emerged to understand and analyze where the money should be spent for making profits in the business. Multiple stakeholders wanted someone having expertise in specific areas to be able to explain them how can they raise the company profits. Thus, the Business Analyst came to existence.
Today, in the industry from the Business Analyst’s role, it is evident that he has great power to influence how the solution is visualized at the customer’s end. A Business Analyst is capable enough to authorize how the solution is designed and implemented on the technology side.
A Business Analyst can also move into more direct customer facing role as below:
- Pre-sales Business Analyst
- Sales and Marketing Consultant
- Account Manager
- Relationship Manager
- Project Leader
In a nutshell, Business Analysts are increasingly being hired in multiple organizations since the inception of a need for the requirements management and managing customer expectations. Thus, a Business Analyst must have sound knowledge of business domain and specialize in certain functional areas.
From the reporting stand point, a Business Analyst generally reports to the Business Analyst Manager or the Business Analyst Head. A Business Analyst does have reporting relationship with the Business Analyst Head as well as he is responsible to the Leader of project which he is assigned to.
A Business Analyst plays different roles in different organizations. The skills and competencies required to carry out a Business Analyst role include:
- Logical and analytical skills, technical, leadership, communication and listening skills.
- Knowledge of the business, management and technology domain.
- Knowledge of Software Development Life Cycle and formal tools used for analysis and documentation.
- Ability to communicate with stakeholders and project teams.
- Ability to organize and analyze the large amount of data and information collected from multiple stakeholders.
- Ability to focus on stakeholders’ needs and envision a suitable solution for the problem.
- Ability to sit in the client’s shoes to understand his needs from his perspective and bring them to the surface.
Having understood the backdrop of a Business Analyst evolving role, an organization needs to understand the tasks and knowledge areas of a Business Analyst to succeed that include:
- Requirement Planning and Management
- Requirement Gathering
- Requirement Analysis and Documentation
- Requirement Communication
- Requirement Implementation
Thus, a Business Analyst is an integral part of an organization today.