How To Become a Business Analyst
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Business Analysis as a profession has been in existence for a long time. Although it may not have been known by that name in the early days, now, it is fast becoming an essential role in many organisations, specifically the medium-sized to large organisations. The smaller companies who are unable to afford the cost of hiring a Business Analyst would have the owners perform this role, or it gets delegated to the heads of department. In any case, you find that in small organisations, whoever plays the function of a Business Analysts (regardless of what title they have) will work closely with the operations, finance, sales and marketing team. Larger organisations tend to employ trained staff in specific 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 stakeholders or project sponsors.
In order to transition into the world of Business Analysis, it is essential to get yourself academically or professionally trained in the application of Business Analysis. This is even more critical if you are coming from a non-related field and you want to break into the world of Business Analysis. Typically, 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, but this is not essential. 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 online (e.g. the Business Analyst's playbook) or classroom-based, 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 also enables employees to become more inspired by enhancing their job satisfaction and creating room for career progression.
There are many career progression routes available to Business Analysts such as, Senior/Lead Business Analysts, Product Manager, Business Architects, Service Designer, Head of Strategy, Head of Analysis, Principle Analysts, Product Owner, Head of Operations, Head of Business Intelligence, and so on. Apart from career opportunities, you also have options to branch into other fields or other business verticals because the skills developed are transferrable.
Whether you are analysing the business of Financial Services, Insurance, Telecoms, Investment Banking, Software Development, Healthcare and many more, the principles remain the same. Hence, opportunities abound, all awaiting your decision to stay in the same line or make a change in the pursuit of new challenges and interests. In some cases, Business Analysts who have risen through the ranks in the corporate world are able to leverage on their existing skills to transition into other career choices such as Financial Analysis, Transformation Management, Project Management and Independent Consulting.
The roles and responsibilities of a Business Analyst could be distinct and yet varied because they are constantly interacting with different stakeholders 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, Business Analysts are highly skilled at documenting organisation design and identifying areas in an organisation that could be automated to make it more efficient. To be successful at this job, you need to possess an analytical, logical and a critical thinking skill; also, you will need to consider developing and empowering yourself with the skills listed below:
Skills every Business Analyst Should Develop:
1. Analytical Skills
Performing a thorough analysis during the project life cycle will help eliminate multiple revisions and confusion further down the line. Requirements and end-to-end analysis should be undertaken at the very start of the project through a planned requirement workshop, brainstorming sessions, job-shadowing and interviewing stakeholders or end-user. These activities help 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. 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. Documented requirements should also be adapted to meet the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) documentation standard.
4. Designing Skills
Business Analysis is as much as art as it is a science. The ability to transform ideas into images helps to elucidate the concepts behind the idea. There are many tools available to help turn 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, iGrafx, Lucid Chart and many more.
5. Negotiation Skills
Negotiation is essential to arriving at a win-win situation, especially when dealing with difficult stakeholders. As the project expands stakeholders become comfortable with providing lots of requirements, some of which are a mere wish list or nice to have, when compared to those that are mandatory or essential to the project at hand; it is the role of the Business Analyst to elicit, negotiate and secure stakeholder’s agreement on the requirement and their priorities 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. It is also a career that serves as a gateway to other promising roles and responsibilities. I wish you the best in your journey to becoming or advancing as a Business Analyst.