Top 10 Skills you 'Need Not Have' to be a BA
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A lot has been said about what business analysts should know. There are tons of literature which talk about the process skills, the technical skills, and the behavioral skills that we all BAs ought to know to be effective.
However, many times there is confusion for folks who feel overwhelmed by the literature. It looks, a BA needs to know everything under the sun. Obviously, no role needs the knowledge of everything. If so, we would just have one role, performing all tasks in a project or organization.
Based on my practical experience of being a BA for close to 25 years and also from what I have read in different BA literature, the top 10 skills that the BAs need not know are-
Deep programming knowledge
The first thing that comes to my mind is deep programming knowledge. Programming is the forte Implementation specialists. BAs are not expected to have deep programming knowledge. It does not mean that if you have it, is a disadvantage but that is not an expectation from a BAs role. Some level of understanding of programming knowledge will always help the BA to decipher the code base that exists, but, we are not programming specialists who can be relied upon to write the best possible code.
The second aspect that comes to my mind is the ability to design solutions, especially complex solutions. For this role, we would have a Solution architect in the organization and they are the best people to design appropriate solutions. As business analysts, our primary responsibility is to ensure correct specifications for the solutions but not necessarily design the solution.
The third aspect that comes to my mind is the database design skills. As BAs, we are expected to understand the databases and how the various entities relate to each other. We should rely on a Data architect to design and optimize the database.
Deep domain knowledge
The fourth element would actually be deep domain knowledge, which is the forte of Domain experts. Many BAs may have significant domain experiences and that could help them to perform their role better in a particular domain. But it is not mandatory for BAs to have any deep domain knowledge to perform the role of a business analyst.
At the same time not having any domain experience, especially with respect to the domain vocabulary and lack of knowledge of high-level processes of a domain will render the business analyst ineffective.
Test automation tools
The fifth aspect that comes to my mind is test automation tools. A lot of business analysts may come from a testing background, which would allow them to have good knowledge of test automation tools but it is not an expectation from a BA to be an expert in test automation tools.
I would say, the next skill which is not mandatory for a business analyst is performing non-functional requirements testing such as performance testing, penetration testing and use tools to perform such tests. NFR testing is again a very specialized skill and should be performed by the quality assurance team in the organization.
Deep statistical knowledge
Statistical knowledge is always helpful for BAs but at a certain point in time, it might cross the required skill level expectation. In case you would like to become a data analyst, deep statistical knowledge can be extremely valuable but for a general business analyst, it is not expected. Take help from a data analyst if needed.
Deep knowledge of financial analysis
As a business analyst, we are not supposed to be a financial expert. Anytime you have a requirement which requires deep financial analysis, it is always better to consult a financial expert.
Deep legal knowledge
Legal aspects can have significant risks for the enterprise. Always consult a lawyer or law firm anytime you have a requirement for deep legal analysis.
I actually could not think of a number 10. But I read somewhere that 10-point lists make great reads.
At the same time, I would always recommend BAs to develop at least 2 skills as an individual. The organization may need the second skill, but not at a specialist level. Any new skill provides significant learning opportunities.
If you enjoy any of the above-mentioned tasks that I mentioned, you should actually consider having a dual role for yourself. But at the same time, one has to optimize one’s efforts, so that one will not spread oneself very thin while trying to develop many skills.