What is a Business Analyst?

If you are an analytical thinker, have a knack for puzzle solving, are skilled at matching business problems to possible solutions, and get a kick out of technology, a career as a business analyst may be for you!

Business analysts advise organizations on how to improve their efficiency and finances. By investigating, analyzing, and evaluating any issues a company might have, they help organizations make informed decisions on what needs to be implemented in order to run a successful organization.

What does a Business Analyst do?

Business analysts are responsible for figuring out the actual needs of the company, not simply the stakeholder's expressed wishes. They will communicate with a wide variety of people, such as the staff, the executives, the IT department, and the customers in order to evaluate the situation fairly and define any and all issues.

Quite often, the business analyst will be a facilitator and help the communication between the organization's departments. They will then document their findings, evaluate and present their solutions.

A business analyst delving into an organization's information and investigating existing issues.

A business analyst will spend a good part of their time doing research and asking many questions. This is done so that the analyst can understand the particular project fully and look for any solution options. Business analysts are skilled communicators, and know how to listen to verbal as well as non-verbal messages, engage in open dialogue and communicate what they've learned to the appropriate parties.

Analyzing the information gathered is a big part of the job. The information needs to be studied for any patterns and trends, and reviewed to make sure it is as current and accurate as it can be.

The business analyst then takes the results of any observations and analysis and documents them either in written form, or visually by way of graphs, charts, or illustrations.

Since there can oftentimes be more than one solution, there needs to be considerable time spent comparing and analyzing solutions. The chosen solution is still heavily evaluated throughout the design and implementation period in order to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the business and that the best implementation process is chosen.

Are you suited to be a business analyst?

Business analysts have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

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What is the workplace of a Business Analyst like?

Business analysis uses a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.

Companies that hire business analysts include those in the following sectors: banking; finance; construction; utilities; oil, gas, and mining; health care; colleges and universities; transportation; telecommunication; insurance; IT and management consulting; software services; and federal, state, and municipal government.

Business analysts can quite easily switch between industries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Business Analysts happy?

Business analysts rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 35th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.

This career happiness score may be surprising in view of some of the benefits enjoyed by business analysts: independence, flexibility, variety of work, opportunity to use knowledge and experience gained from other jobs and experiences, opportunity to help others, and excellent pay.

However, the fact that the position very often requires managing multiple and varying responsibilities and complex issues may lead to unwelcome challenges for some who enter the field.

How long does it take to become a Business Analyst?

There is more than one single path to a business analyst career.

The standard route involves earning a four-year bachelor’s degree and subsequently obtaining an entry-level position. Students who study for another two years and obtain a master’s will expand their employability options.

However, it is not uncommon for experienced software developers to transition into a business analyst role, as their communication, analysis, and data mining skills can successfully transfer to a position in business analysis. Their in-depth knowledge of the software development cycle can be a particular advantage. By passing the required exam and adding an industry-recognized business analysis certification to this skill set, they are well on their way toward a new career.

Changing careers is a matter of course for most business professionals. It follows, therefore, that individuals with specialized knowledge of other industries sometimes choose to apply that familiarity in a business analyst role, with possible focus on conducting analyses for businesses in the sector in which they were previously employed. Such transitions are naturally facilitated by passing a certification exam.

What are Business Analysts like?

Based on our pool of users, business analysts tend to be predominately enterprising people. They are motivated by the fact that their work does not deal with abstract topics, but with concrete issues that influence the success or failure of a business: the quality of management, of products, and of customer service and corporate capacity to change and innovate.

Organizations have realized that experienced business analysts are among their most valuable resources. Their ability to communicate, facilitate, and analyze makes them indispensable in the modern corporate world. The consummate business analyst understands both business and technology and has taken the necessary educational and professional steps to ensure his/her demand in the marketplace.

Should I become a Business Analyst?

It has been said that the role of business analyst has ‘the perfect career trifecta’ because it offers financial stability, professional growth, and is personally rewarding. Still, before making the decision to enter the field, it is important to investigate whether the job is the one for you.

Few business analysts work for a single company; the majority are hired on a contractual basis to evaluate an organization and submit their recommendations. Analysts may be self-employed or represent a business consulting firm. They generally conduct their work on the premises of the business they are analyzing. Schedules are usually full-time and longer hours are often required to meet deadlines. Meeting the demands of clients in the designated time frame is not always easy and can be stressful.

Working in business analysis demands a core skill set, comprised of both soft and hard skills:

Communication
The business analyst is essentially a professional communicator, on the frontline, bridging the gap between business users, executives, and technology teams. Verbal communication skills are crucial. Clear and concise writing skills are necessary to document and share findings and action plans.

Negotiation
Not all stakeholders will see eye to eye and implementing change is not possible if teams do not cooperate. One of the mandates of the business analyst is to help negotiate between differing stances and bring those involved to consensus and resolution.

Problem Solving
Few projects are without issues or problems. It is the role of the business analyst to identify the real problems facing a company, to define them, and to present potential solutions.

Facilitation
Meetings are an integral part of corporate culture. Business analysts need to be able to facilitate and lead discussions, present at meetings, and effectively run conference calls.

Research and Organization
Business analysts pore over volumes of data, analyze documents, observe procedures, and interview relevant parties to pinpoint core issues. They must prioritize tasks and be efficient with time and resource allocation. They must be organized and methodical; pay attention to details; and keep referable notes from meetings and discussions so that they can communicate important information to the right people.

Critical Thinking
The business analyst needs to listen to stakeholders; be able to spot errors and inconsistencies; analyze and assess many options; and ensure that the final solution meets all stakeholder requirements.

Technical
Because business analysis is such a broad field that intersects with multiple industries, analysts are well served by having some technical knowledge in cross-industry programming languages, database management systems, and software frameworks. Familiarity with modeling – designing and analyzing a mathematical representation of a business system to study the effect of changes to system variables – can also prove to be extremely valuable.

In the simplest of terms, the accomplished business analyst possesses the passion and confidence to justify his/her recommendations based on solid research and analysis.

Business Analysts are also known as:
Process Analyst Business Systems Analyst Business Architect