Certification of capability in business analysis
Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA) is the 2nd level certification provided by...
Everything one would like to know about Business Analyst Profession - Business Analyst Job description, Skills, Salary, Certifications
Business analysts are in great demand today. After all, who are business analysts?
A Business Analyst is a person who analyzes an organization or business domain and documents its business, processes, or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology. Business Analyst helps in guiding businesses in improving processes, products, services, and software through data analysis.
Business Analysts are agents of change. They help businesses do businesses better.
Adaptive US definition
A business analyst is a skilled and competent professional in identifying, validating needs (problems or opportunities) of business and stakeholders, elaborating, modeling, specifying them, identify, and evaluate solution approaches and solution, collaborate with stakeholders to ensure positive changes to enterprise, organization, business, products, processes, or systems.
Although some professionals have a formal designation of business analyst, most management personnel are inherently business analysts.
Business analysts are an extremely varied in their task. Many of them are part of software project implementation, who are project business analysts. Many are responsible to identify data patterns, who are called Data analysts. Many BAs are responsible for process improvements, they are called as Process Analysts. There are hundreds of job roles and designations which indicate a particular type of business analyst. By no means, the following list is comprehensive.
Changes are the order of the day. In today’s fast paced world, organization’s need to constantly re-invent themselves. Making change happen sounds easier but hard to implement. Businesses need professionals who understand change management principles and make positive changes to the organization.
With evolution of information technology, organizations realize that technology can provide tremendous impetus to organizational growth and profitability. Information technology has seen incredible improvement in the last century, especially in last 4 to 5 decades. However, technologists and business professionals have different focus and language. There exists need for a specialist role which can understand both business and the technology worlds and act as a connect between the two worlds for organization’s growth. Business analysts play this important communicator role.
Business analysis has been identified as a key discipline in organizations across the globe. Business analysts enable the enterprise to articulate its needs, the rationale for change and to design and describe solutions that deliver value. Business analysis can be performed in a project or across the enterprise. It is used to understand the current state, define the future state and determine activities required for the transition.
International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) defines business analysis as the practice of enabling change in an organization, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.
According to Wikipedia, business analysis is a research discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a software-systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. The person who carries out this task is called a business analyst or BA.
A business analyst is a role where one can contribute to an organization’s strategy, its offerings, its revenue, and its margin. It offers a great opportunity to interact with many stakeholders, develop innovative solutions, and improve the existing solutions. Business analysts work as a bridge between business stakeholders and technology architects.
According to CIO.com, Business analysts help guide businesses in improving processes, products, services, and software through data analysis. These agile workers straddle the line between IT and the business to help bridge the gap and improve efficiency.
A Business Analyst is an important part of any project team. Acting as the key interface between the users and the project manager they gather information, document processes, and confirm the final documents with users.
The key responsibilities of a Business Analyst
The definition of business analysis allows for many different approaches to the role. Although the role of a Business Analyst will vary dramatically from industry to industry and from company to company, some key roles a business analyst performs remain the same.
To be a good business analyst, one must have a clear-cut idea of what is required of them regarding their roles and responsibilities. One primary job of the business analyst is to locate business opportunities and inefficiencies and provide recommendations (principally through implementing IT and technological solutions).
Some of the core responsibilities of a business analyst, irrespective of their industry are-
Validating and elaborating business requirements are at the core of a business analyst’s role. Requirements management is one of the core skills a business analyst is expected to possess. Managing requirements both at the project level and organization level are vital in fulfilling business needs.
Business analysts take lead in the following key activities:
Skilled business analysts also use requirements to drive the design or review of test cases, process change requests, and manage a project’s scope, acceptance, installation, and deployment.
The role of a business analyst is constantly evolving and changing. Every company has different issues that a business analyst can address, whether it’s dealing with outdated legacy systems, changing technologies, broken processes, poor client or customer satisfaction or siloed large organizations.
Business Analyst Skills
As a business analyst, one must learn how to interact with a sponsor, Domain SME, End users, and all other business-side stakeholders, including suppliers. Business analysts need to have a combination of hard and soft skills. In order to be good at your job, you will need to acquire/hone skills in behavioral aspects.
Most of the time the technology folks within IT, the external consultants & software vendors and the business stakeholders don't speak the same language. BAs must be able to understand often not-so-eloquently-explained ideas and phrase them in such a way that it can be understood by all the stakeholders.
A business analyst needs to be abreast of tools and software concepts to do their job properly. Let us understand the top 10 software concepts and tools for business analysts.
We should be aware of the concepts related to methodologies like Waterfall and Iterative. Business analysis approaches differ as per SDLCs followed and being knowledgeable on SDLCs helps us to plan our activities better.
As business analysts, we need to have some flair for technology like OOPS, Database concepts. A good understanding of database concepts is a great skill for all business analysts.
Another great area of interest for a Business Analyst is Reporting tools, BI and reporting mechanisms, etc.
Modeling tools are something like a paintbrush for an artist; we are going to color our canvas with this skill. So get yourself conversant with this tool today if you have not. The popular ones in use in industry are Rational Rose, Star UML (Free software) and Enterprise Architect.
BPM Tools like MS Visio and BizAgi (free software) are great tools to depict the process map in a visual manner. Visual representations are great ways to communicate the process flow. The beauty of this is it makes the whole process comprehendible in few mins by having a quick look at the process flow diagram.
Testing tools are ultimately going to be the one that is going to make or break the release of the system/application. Business analysts are testers on behalf of most stakeholders and sponsors for the application to see the light of the day.
As business analysts, we are going to be the owner of the requirements of the applications/projects that we are part of. A few popular requirements management tools in the market are OSRMT – Open source Requirements management tool, DOORS, Rational Requisite Pro.
As business analysts, we are expected to explore details about a particular situation or solution. A mind map is a very helpful technique to elaborate on any concept.
Prototypes are great ways to evaluate and collect feedback on requirements and features. Prototyping tools such as Pencil, iRise, SmartDraw are few popular prototyping tools. Of which Pencil is a free plugin whereas iRise and SmartDraw are licensed products.
Last but not the least, it may sound very generic, however as business analyst s at any point in time we will have to be fairly proficient on the MS office tools like MS Excel, MS Word, and MS PowerPoint. These office tools are going to be handy for all our life, hence definitely worth to invest some good time with these tools.
Keeping one abreast of upcoming technologies, trends and practices in the area of interest or domain are going to keep one in demand.
Every BA will have a unique blend of interpersonal skills but some soft skills that would be well worth your while to master are-
Soft skills though typically doesn’t come on the top skills stakeholders wish to acquire/learn but are equally essential for a professional to grow up in his career.
As we all know Business Analyst is someone who analyzes an organization and designs its processes and systems, assessing the business model and its integration with technology to achieve a certain objective.
Business Analyst typically has to talk to the stakeholders, get the requirements, document the requirements, get the development team’s nod on the same, negotiate with both the parties for the requirements sign off, get the requirements to sign off from the stakeholder/sponsor.
This for sure calls for a good amount of ability to communicate effectively, ability to convince/influence without authority, negotiate etc.
Here is a good list of skill you need to acquire/hone over the years to be a better Business Analyst professional:
Communication Skill – As a BA we need to be an effective communicator establishing a bridge between the various stakeholders.
Negotiation Skill – Balancing between those demanding requirements of the customer/stakeholder and the internal organization would definitely need a good amount of negotiation skill. Creating a fine balance while looking at the requirements from a holistic point of view will for sure make us a perfect BA.
Facilitation Skill – As a bridge between various stakeholders we need to have excellent facilitation skills to ensure that communication is proper and all the requirements are articulated well and explicitly.
Analytical thinking Skill – Get analytical and problem-solving skills brushed to analyze all the scenarios well and come up with solutions and ensure that there are no conflicts in the team and all the members communicate well with each other.
Problem-solving Skill - A definite skill for all BA, as given in the above point.
Decision-Making Skill – You have come up with multiple options for a particular problem using your analytical skills, now you need to weigh the options well and come up with a decision to present to the steering committee, this is why you need this skill.
Ability to see the bigger picture – This is a very important skill for all of us BA’s out here focusing only on the given set of requirements and not seeing the bigger picture lot of times leads to a situation where the product does not see the light of the day or gets abandoned. Hence this is one of the very important skills to have, you need to have good business knowledge and knowledge of technology/business advancements to see a bigger picture and keep it in mind, while the designing of the system is being carried out.
Ability to appreciate and empathize – See the points coming from all stakeholders and the basis of all requirements and make a good judgment of the same keeping all in mind.
Ability to influence without authority – As BA’s there are numerous meetings we need to spearhead/facilitate, this is where we need to be good to influence senior stakeholders and decision makers/sponsors of the project.
Good interpersonal skills – Above all the skills we need to have good interpersonal skills and a good rapport with the team and all stakeholders to make the project success.
Above all these skills will make you a better professional each day, these skills are something we learn with each day and polish with each day in our professional lives.
A deliverable is any unique and verifiable work product or service that a party has agreed to deliver.
The specific job deliverables of a business analyst vary according to the employer’s needs. Some may be limited to IT-related projects only, while others may be involved in areas such as finance or accounting, marketing or operations. Business analyst training online can be beneficial to professionals currently in banking, insurance, information technology, telecommunications, and marketing – since the essential skills and business knowledge required for success in any of these fields can facilitate understanding of an employers’ needs.
Some key business analyst deliverables are-
Education and training requirements for business analyst jobs vary by employer, specific role and industry. Most business analyst positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in business administration or related degree for entry-level positions, though this is not a strict requirement Some employers prefer business analysts with certification.
Whilst any degree is advantageous, the following subjects are useful as they’re in a similar field:
To be a distinguished BA and to increase your chances of success, earning a business analyst certification is important. Certification can improve overall performance, remove uncertainty and widen market opportunities. A certified business analyst has a broader perspective of the BA techniques and approaches. It also shows commitment, as preparing for these certifications and clearing the exam is not an easy task. Organizations also recognize individuals for the hard work and commitment which the candidate has put into it. There are a number of industry-recognized certificates aspiring Business Analysts can acquire. There acceptability, qualification criteria and fees vary widely.
IIBA Business Analysis certifications are the most popular business analysis certification in the world. IIBA has been promoting the business analysis profession and certification for more than a decade now. The certification space for the BA community has been dominated by IIBA with its certifications ECBA (basic level), CCBA (intermediate level), CBAP (Advanced level) and AAC(Agile Analysis Certification) each requiring a different level of experience.
IIBA has been very popular in the corporate world as well as among professionals. Since these certifications have the backing of IIBA and corporate recognition, the job opportunities that it brings in is much higher than others.
CBAP is meant for business analysts who have 5 + years of business analysis experience. This is the most popular and recognized BA certification in the world. CBAP exam has a case study and scenario questions based on Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK).
CCBA is for business analysts so have between 2 to 3 years of business analysis experience and targeted towards business analysts who are performing business analysis independently. CCBA® exam has scenario questions based on the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK).
In 2016 October, IIBA introduced another interesting certification, ECBA. ECBA is targeted towards professionals who would like to become business analysts, would like to understand the business analysis process, and business analysts who have a very low amount of business analysis experiences. ECBA exam has concept questions based on the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK).
The AAC certification recognizes the competencies of BA professionals with 2 to 3 years’ experience executing analysis-related work in an agile context. The IIBA-AAC exam is closely aligned to the Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide, version 2 and tests one’s ability to answer questions focused on real-world scenarios.
If you are looking to be certified, it is highly recommended that you undergo proper training from seasoned BA coaches with proven approaches. This will help increase the chances of passing in the very first attempt and in the shortest possible time. Being trained by experts and seasoned BA coaches not only helps one pass the certification with ease but also helps them be better equipped in business analysis skills and tools.
2020 IIBA salary survey indicates a salary range between $70,000 to $150,000 for senior business analysts against a salary range between $40,000 to $70,000 for junior business analysts. Women business analysts tend to earn higher than men business analysts indicating a great diversity in the business analysis profession.
Business analysis is a very versatile space. It offers numerous career paths for it's practitioners. In this article, we have described common career paths those are suitable for business analysts. Here is a very broad guideline for the career progressions for Business analysts.
Four common career paths BAs can pursue are:
However, having said that it depends on the person’s interest, domain/technical knowledge, interest to learn new concepts and risk-taking ability which determines largely the career progress.
If you are risk-taking and open to learn new concepts/domain you can change your domain and move to a new field and establish yourself to be a good player in the field. This gives you good exposure and makes your career prospects broader. That makes you a good candidate for a senior executive position.
If you love what you are good at and aim to become an expert in the same without changing gears then you can master your domain including getting into other areas in the same domain. This can include having a good hold on the tools and products prevalent in the domain. This can make you a great specialist and unique in the field, which is invaluable for your career.
You can make yourself a great consultant in a particular field and can think of working with multiple clients to give them a part of your time and expert guidance. In return, this gives you the flexibility and the rich experience of working with multiple clients.
There is no better time than now to start something good. Go and Kiss the world as per your taste and interest, the world is all yours if you can make it and believe in yourself.
LN has 25 years of professional experience. He is the Co-Founder of Adaptive US, the World's #1 IIBA Training Provider. He has authored 20+ books on business analysis.