What is a Business Analyst, and What Do They Do?
To run a modern business successfully, business leaders must be able to handle the now-myriad streams of data generated by services and users to improve output and ensure continuous, resilient products and services.
But business processes are getting increasingly complex and new technologies and methodologies have made running a company harder than ever.
In this new, digital era, understanding what processes and strategies work to improve business takes a multidisciplinary workforce of high-functioning analysts, the most important for many of whom is a Business Analyst.
Not everyone, however, can be a Business Analyst, and only a few talented individuals have the skill and experience to accurately pull apart business-generated data, work with C-Suite leaders and enact sustainable, substantive, competitive change management.
What is a Business Analyst?
“A business analyst (BA) is a person who processes, interprets and documents business processes, products, services and software through analysis of data”.
Business Analysts, as the above description indicates, can and often do perform a wide variety of roles across data analysis, business process analysis, training, mentoring, stakeholder management and change management.
Some BAs are generalists who help their employers with many things related to business management, analysis, improvements, etc. While others are specialists who might focus on technology, finance, operations, HR and so on.
Hence the “multidisciplinary” requirement of good BAs – adaptability, good communication, lateral thinking, and business trend knowledge are the foundational skills a BA needs to have to be of high value for an enterprise.
They also need to be able to translate often complex data streams into actionable intel for executives to trigger a change in company operations and be able to do so with integrity, maturity, and a calm demeanour.
Who hires Business Analysts?
Every operation, no matter its size, needs business analysis, but the scope of the job, their title, and the sort of skills and niche qualifications needed vary from sector to sector.
For example, every company will have a figure in their leadership team whose responsibility requires them to act as a sort of chief Business Analyst, from the smallest start-up to the biggest multinational.
But the larger the company; the more widespread the service use; the more diligence required to maintain operations; and the more compliance the company must undergo to meet industry standards; the more BAs will be needed across functions and across departments.
What are the primary responsibilities of a Business Analyst?
BAs are primarily leaned on to do the following:
- Analysing performance of routine business activities,
- Market analysis,
- Monitoring special projects,
- Utilise data modelling techniques,
- Run workshops and training sessions,
- Financial modelling,
- Stakeholder management,
- Business and process improvement research,
- Developing and leading projects,
- Risk assessment.
What skills are needed to be a Business Analyst?
- Undergraduate/ Bachelor’s degree in finance, business, economics, computer science or affiliated IT qualification,
- Relevant certifications from awarding bodies like the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and the Project Management Institute.
- Analytical mindset,
- Financial, audit, risk assessment and leadership skills,
- Creative presentation skills,
- Natural leadership acumen and the ability to lead others,
- Business modelling skills,
- Trend and industry knowledge.
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