What is a Business Analyst?
To put it simply, a business analyst is someone who performs business analysis. More broadly, a business analyst is a person who provides information which enables organisations to make structural changes to deliver maximum value to business owners, shareholders and stakeholders.
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Skillset and Experience
A business analyst is expected to identify the needs and weaknesses of an organisation. To do so, they need to understand the basic structure of an organisation. They also need to possess a thorough understanding of every department in the organisation, ranging from IT and sales to human resource and customer service. They must have a firm grasp of all related areas such as finance, government policy, local and industry bylaws, and banking regulations. In addition, business analysts must be proficient in the sector they are working in, be it manufacturing, construction or even non-profit. Analysts tend to emerge from the industry they started in, so many of them are expert in their particular fields.
Since business analysts are required to extract raw data and unrecorded observations from their environment, they need to have high level critical thinking and analytical skills. Strong interpersonal skill is also beneficial as analysts regularly spend time with rank and file and management staff to understand the process flow and project parameters of the company they are working for.
A strong knowledge of business software tools and productivity applications is also helpful, since data collection, tabulation and recording are generally very substantial. In many instances, they are also required to speak to or train employees, key personnel and stakeholders, so soft skills such as public speaking, writing and presentation are important attributes.
Obviously, a career in business analysis entails more than just a business analyst course – a basic degree in a relevant field is also required.
Many companies nurture and support their business analysts as they believe that the latter’s skillset will prepare them well for leadership positions in the company in future.
Types of Business Analysts
A cardiologist is a doctor. So are neurosurgeons and dermatologists. The different terms used to label them are meant to highlight their areas of speciality. Similarly, business analysts also have areas of speciality. Here are some of the more popular ones:
(i) System Analyst
System analysts convert detailed project guidelines and requirements into digital workflows for coders, developers and QA engineers. They are usually found at large-scale software development projects and data centres.
(ii) Requirements Manager
Requirements managers identify, document, disseminate and monitor the needs and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in a project. They also must keep track of all project changes down to the last detail and ensure that information flows to every stakeholder. This can become a very high pressure position in inefficient projects. Requirements managers are usually needed at every large-scale project. They are also often in the centre of shouting matches every time project leads tweak with the project.
(iii) Technical Writer
Technical writers turn codes, ideas and instructions into user manuals, site documentation, operation guidelines, etc. They ensure that information can be understood by the target demographic. This highly demanding position is criminally underrated though, even though technical writers are closer to superheroes than mortals.