Business Analysis as a profession has been in existence for a long time. Although, it may not have commanded much of a standing back then, it is now fast becoming an essential element in any organization, specifically the medium sized to large organisations. For smaller establishments, the task is probably handled by the company heads or owners, who work closely with the operations, finance, sales and marketing team. Larger organizations tend to employ trained staff in specialized departments or sections. They handle the bulk of the job, analysing trends, defining or re-designing processes, documenting requirements, shaping the future of the organisation, crunching numbers and churning out reports to be presented to the executive level.
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 transferrable. 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.
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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
I am a Business Analyst, what about you?
image credit: Alexander Osterwalder