Should business analysts learn data analytics
How much technical skills is right for a Business Analyst?
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 and Tools
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 people 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.
Every BA will have a unique blend of interpersonal skills but some soft skills that would be well worth your while to master are-
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.
Software Engineering Methodologies like SDLC e.g. Waterfall, Iterative (Agile/Scrum)
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.
High-Level Technology like Database structure, OOP
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.
UML Modeling Tools
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.
Requirements Management Tools
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 mindmap 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.
Business Analyst Deliverables
The BABOK® defines a deliverable as:
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-
Business Analyst Qualification, Education and Training
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:
Here is a list of the best business analysis books, which can guide you to all that is there to learn about Business Analysis.
|1||Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK)
This is available for free reading if you are a member of IIBA.
|2||How to Start a Business Analyst Career||Laura Brandenburg|
|3||Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis||Barbara A. Carkenord|
|4||Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide||PMBoK® Guide and Standards|
|5||Business Analysis Techniques: 99 Essential Tools for Success||Debra Paul, James Cadle, and Paul Turner|
|6||Agile and Business Analysis: Practical Guidance for IT Professionals||Debra Paul and Lynda Girvan|
|7||Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing Change||James Archer & Penny Pullan|
|8||Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success||Steven Blais|
|9||Adaptive BABoK Study Guide||Adaptive US|
|10||Business Analysis for Dummies||Kate McGoey, Kupe Kupersmith, and Paul Mulvey|
|11||3D Business Analyst||Mohamed Elgendy|
|12||The Agile Business Analyst: Moving from Waterfall to Agile||Barbara Carkenord and Ryland Leyton|
|13||Design Thinking Business Analysis: Business Concept Mapping Applied||Thomas Frisendal|
|14||Business Analysis Methodology Book||Emrah Yayici|
|15||Mastering the Requirements Process||Suzanne Robertson, James C. Robertson|
|16||Rapid Agile Business System Analysis: Fast, Agile, Measurable Results||Trond Frantzen|
|17||Product and Process Modelling: A Case Study Approach||Ian T. Cameron and Rafiqul Gani|
|18||Software Requirements, 3rd Edition||Karl Wiegers and
|19||Writing Effective Use Cases (Agile Software Development Series)||Alistair Cockburn|
|20||IIBA Agile extension||IIBA|
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 essentially 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.
Sonal is a Content & Digital Marketing Specialist working in the corporate academics sector with Adaptive US. She relishes challenges that require her to operate at the intersection of creativity & analytics to deliver compelling content solutions.