Business Analyst

Essential professional and technical skills for business analysts

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Business analysts (BAs) play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between IT and the business to improve processes, products, services, and software through data analysis. They must possess a blend of professional and technical skills to be effective in their roles. So, what are the essential skills every business analyst should master to excel in their profession?

Key professional skills for business analysts

Analytical thinking and problem-solving

Analytical thinking is at the core of business analysis. BAs need to interpret complex data and translate it into actionable insights. Problem-solving skills are crucial for identifying issues within processes and developing effective solutions.

Communication skills

Effective communication is vital for BAs as they interact with various stakeholders, including executives, IT professionals, and end-users. They must convey technical information in a way that is understandable to non-technical stakeholders and vice versa.

Stakeholder engagement

Understanding and managing stakeholder needs and expectations is critical. BAs must engage stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle, ensuring their requirements are accurately captured and met.

Negotiation and conflict resolution

Negotiation skills help BAs reconcile conflicting stakeholder requirements and find mutually acceptable solutions. Conflict resolution skills are essential for maintaining project harmony and ensuring progress.

Time management

BAs often juggle multiple projects and tasks simultaneously. Effective time management skills enable them to prioritise tasks, meet deadlines, and maintain project timelines.

Adaptability and flexibility

The business environment is constantly evolving. BAs must be adaptable and flexible to respond to changing project requirements, stakeholder needs, and technological advancements.

Critical thinking

BAs need to think critically about the information they gather and the problems they encounter. This involves questioning assumptions, evaluating evidence, and making well-informed decisions.

Collaboration and teamwork

Working effectively in teams is essential. BAs must collaborate with various departments, including IT, marketing, finance, and operations, to ensure that business objectives are met.

Business acumen

Understanding the broader business context and industry-specific knowledge is crucial. This helps BAs align their analysis and recommendations with the organisation’s strategic goals.

Key technical skills for business analysts

Requirements engineering

The ability to gather, document, and manage requirements is fundamental. This involves techniques such as interviews, surveys, workshops, and requirement documentation practices like use cases and user stories.

Data analysis

BAs must be proficient in data analysis to identify trends, patterns, and insights that inform business decisions. This includes knowledge of statistical analysis, data visualisation tools, and querying databases.

Technical writing

Clear and concise technical writing skills are necessary for creating various documents, including requirement specifications, functional specifications, and user manuals.

Knowledge of IT and software development

Understanding the basics of IT and software development processes, such as Agile and Waterfall methodologies, helps BAs work effectively with IT teams. Familiarity with software development life cycles (SDLC) and project management tools is also beneficial.

Business process modelling

Proficiency in business process modelling (BPM) tools and techniques allows BAs to represent business processes visually. Tools like BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) and UML (Unified Modelling Language) are commonly used.

Database and SQL skills

BAs should be comfortable working with databases and have a good understanding of SQL (Structured Query Language) to query databases for information and insights.

Proficiency in business analysis tools

Knowledge of business analysis tools such as Microsoft Visio, Jira, Trello, and other project management and workflow tools is important for documenting processes, managing tasks, and tracking project progress.

Basic coding knowledge

While not always necessary, having a basic understanding of coding and scripting languages can be beneficial. It enables BAs to better understand the technical aspects of projects and communicate more effectively with development teams.

Testing and quality assurance

Understanding the principles of testing and quality assurance is important. BAs often need to validate that solutions meet the requirements and work as intended, which involves creating and executing test plans and cases.

Boosting your business analyst skills

The role of a business analyst is multifaceted and requires a combination of professional and technical skills. By mastering analytical thinking, communication, stakeholder engagement, and data analysis, among other skills, BAs can effectively bridge the gap between business needs and IT solutions.

Continuous learning and development in these areas will ensure that BAs remain valuable assets to their organisations and contribute significantly to their success. At TSG Training, we offer a range of certified training courses that can develop BA skills.

Some options to boost professional development include a BCS Modelling Business Processes course which can help to model processes and find process improvements. Alternatively, the BCS Agile Business Analysis course can offer holistic and lean thinking skills that BAs can apply to business improvement projects.

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