Business Analysis as a profession has been in existence for a long time, whilst they may have been know with different names, or perform an array of tasks, the ultimate goal has always been to add value to organisations. They don’t stop at that, they also ensure that any project embarked upon by such organisations are completed successfully. One of the key tasks you find Business Analysts perform, is acting as a bridge between the business and technology, helping to ensure that business requirements are properly elicited and translated in order for technology to be able to fulfill the goals of the business.
In order to transition into the world of Business Analysis, it is important to get yourself academically or professionally trained in the relevant area. Normally, most Analysts find themselves studying Business Administration, Computer Sciences, Business Management and sometimes Financial Management. Holding multiple degrees certainly increases your chances of commanding a better position on the salary scale. This coupled with relevant years of experience and getting some certification from recognised institutions like the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) or British Computer Society (BCS) will also help you to stand out from the crowd. In many cases, working with reputable organisations could also prove to be favourable as it enhances your employment portfolio and gives you the hands-on training required.
Embarking on a Professional Training Program (either self-funded or organised by the employers) can also be an effective way to ensure that you are getting the right professional guidance and it also helps one to perform well on the job. Training is the procedure of presenting employees with the required knowledge and expertise to carry out their duties and tasks the right way. It does not only help to improve business effectiveness, but it is also enables staff members to become more inspired by enhancing their job satisfaction.
By participating in a training program, one can get hold of transferable skills that benefit the individuals’ interests as well as the business. Although, this could potentially have drawbacks for the company, simply because it grants workers more value in the job market; however without adequate training, employers run the risk of poor quality project deliverables and inadequately skilled Analysts.
There are varieties of choices available to Business Analysts when it comes to career advancement, such as, Senior/Lead Business Analysts, Product Manager, Subject Matter Expert, Head of Strategy, Head of Analysis, Principle Analysts, Product Owner, Head of Operations, Head of Business Intelligence, and so on. Besides the promotion to a more senior position, you also have options to branch into other fields because the skills developed are transferable. Whether you are analysing the business of Financial Services, Insurance, Telecoms, Investment Banking, Software Development, Healthcare or others, the principles remain the same. Hence, opportunities lie awaiting your decision to remain in the same line or make a change in the pursuit of new challenges and interests. Some of these job holders have also risen up the corporate ladder by utilizing their skills and talents, diverging into other vocations such as Financial Analysts, Project Managers and Independent Consultants and also taking up more responsibilities.
The roles and responsibilities of a Business Analyst could be distinct and yet varied because they constantly interact with different stakeholders and departments in order to elicit requirements, analyse problems, identify gaps, identify Key Performance Indicators, drill down to the root causes of any organisational challenges and proffer solutions. In addition to these, a Business Analyst helps to document organisation design, helps to identify the total work flow and areas that would need to be automated in an organisation in order to make it more efficient.
Business Analysts jobs are not limited a particular industry sector or company type. You can find Business Analysts working in various sectors such as Telecoms, Banking, Retail, Health Sector, Insurance, Private Equity, and the list goes on. It is usually common to find Business Analyst working in large organisations who are undergoing transformation projects, automation projects, re-organisation projects, software deployment, etc. However, Business Analysts can also contribute immensely to start-ups, small, medium and large companies. They can help start-ups and small companies understand what they need to focus on in order to thrive and surpass the 10% survival rates of new and small companies. They can also help the medium sized companies to navigate through the complexity of strategy formulation and implementation, technology adoptions and standardization of processes, etc. This is why the Business Analyst job is highly sought after by employers and employees alike.
When analysing employment trends for genders gaps, it becomes apparent that the job opportunities for Business Analysts are reasonable well spread and one is only limited by their level of skills and experiences; it is a gender neutral role. This sort of job requires one to possess analytical, logical and detailed thought processes as well as the necessary skills set in order to be successful.
Necessary Skills that a Business Analyst should have are:
- Excellent Analysis
A properly defined analysis will help eliminate multiple revisions and confusion. Requirement and end-to-end analysis should be undertaken at the very start of the project through workshops, brainstorming, job-shadowing and interviewing in order to ensure that the project requirements are clear and unambiguous.
- Good Communication Skills
A business analyst must have excellent communication skills which consist of both written and verbal skills, simply because clear communication takes away ambiguities as well as unwarranted details.
- Documentation Skills
Technical documenting expertise is crucial mainly because the information and facts are effectively conveyed through the various documentation/artefacts. The Business, Marketing, Functional, Non-Functional, Security and Data Requirement Specifications need to be documented accurately, leaving no room for ambiguities. Documentation of Requirements and other supporting artefacts need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Testable. Documentation should also be adopted to meet the IEEE documentation standard.
- Designing Skills
Business Analysis is as much as art as it is a science. The ability to transform ideas into pictorial images helps to elucidate the concepts behind the idea. There are many tools available to help transform ideas into real world events which can be used to satisfy a project’s requirement standards. Some examples of tools available are Visio, Enterprise Architect, Azure, I-Graphix and Rational Pro.
- Negotiation Skills
Negotiation is essential to have a win-win situation. As the project expands there are a lots of requirements which can be more of a wish list compared to those that are mandatory; it is the role of the Business Analyst to negotiate and secure stakeholder’s agreement in a timely manner.
In conclusion, becoming a Business Analyst is a very rewarding career with lifelong skills that can be used in your everyday life. Business Analysts are now seen as value adding members of staff in every organisation. Companies looking to make the leap to becoming more sustainable, profitable and technologically advanced, know that having a Business Analyst on-board is the right thing to do.
So, what do Business Analysts do on a day to day basis, you might ask; the following is an inexhaustible list of what Business Analysts would be found doing on any one given day on the job:
- Identify business problems and documenting it in a problem statement document
- Perform root cause analysis to get to the core of the problems identified
- Perform and end to end analysis to get a granular detail of the problems
- Perform GAP analysis to understand where the business is today (“as-is state”), where the business needs to be (“to-be state”) and what the business needs to do/have (“gap state”) in order to get to where they should be.
- Identify processes that needs to be improved, discontinued or introduce in order to help a business achieve its desired objectives.
- work with project managers and product owners to develop a business case
- Identify various options to help a business reach its goal.
- Identify and assess any potential risk that may be encountered from embarking on the project.
- Identify and engage with stakeholders to understand what they need in order to achieve their goals and documenting it in a “Business Requirement Document”.
- Engage stakeholders to validate and approve the elicited requirements
- Act as a point of contact between the business and technology teams by interpreting requirements and acceptance criteria set by the business.
- Assist with the test teams to ensure that what is being produced or developed performs as expected
- Help with transition into a live environment and where required identify training needs and help with training the owners or users of the new product/project
- Monitor performance of the new product/project by developing relevant key performance indicators (KPI)
- Help to perform benefit realization assessment of the project/product to ensure that the business fully realizes the identified benefits.
These are just a few of the tasks performed by Business Analysts as this could be different based on the type of projects embarked on. In some cases, you may even be responsible for the entire end to end delivery of the project, which may include managing all stages of the project through to handing over the project to the change management team for implementing in a live environment.
Regardless of where you find yourself as a business analyst, the end result of what you do, when you do it and how you do as a Business Analyst, should always add value to those you provide your services to.
About the Author
Toyin Aromire is a Lead Business Analyst at one of UK’s top Telecoms Company