Business analyst is a popular title across many industries, including software and management consulting. Consulting firms (think Accenture and Deloitte) of all sizes and tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, Groupon, and even Big Fish Games are constantly hiring business analysts. To better understand this popular role, we will explain what they do and who would be good at it.
Say you own a plot of land and want to build a house on it. You would hopefully enlist the services of an architect. The architect would ask you various questions, such as, what is your budget, how many stories, how many bedrooms, etc. The architect then drafts plans and makes sure they are to your liking before finding builders. Once construction was underway, the architect would observe and report progress to you. Sometimes problems will arise and previous plans need modification. Or you find something not to your liking, in which case the architect will relay your request to the builders.
The role of a business analyst is much like an architect, except instead of building a house, a business analyst interprets information and data to drive business decisions. Let’s use a business analyst in an IT organization as an example. The business analyst acts as a middleman between you (the client or the business) and the builders (the IT team).
Furthermore, instead of drafting plans, a business analyst creates the ‘requirements’, which clearly states what you want accomplished. These requirements are then used by an IT team to design corresponding solutions. During this time, the business analyst will answer any questions or concerns by both parties. The business analyst will also aid in implementing the solution for the client once completed.
A business analyst is responsible for the following:
- Acting as an intermediary for clients and solutions teams
- Analyzing data and sharing the information with business decision makers, often in the formats of reports and data visualization
- Making actionable recommendations to achieve business objectives or to improve business metrics
- Communicating effectively with clients to identify needs and address concerns
- Translating business requirements into functional and systems requirements
When hiring a business analyst, companies look for candidates generally with a business or technical background. This is certainly not always the case, but having either background would greatly help. To become a successful business analyst, these are some of the skills required:
- Analytical skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Communication skills
- Managerial skills
- Negotiation and persuasion skills
The role of a business analyst varies across industries and even from company to company. But ultimately the goal of a business analyst remains the same – to define and deliver the best business outcomes for a company.
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