Business Analysts is a professional who aligns business expectations with an IT team. A business analyst plays a vital role in a company and helps in improving business processes, technical system advancement, identifying the systems and process gaps, etc. Doing all these things is not possible unless a BA possesses essential skills and competencies.
Business Analysts would require hard skills as well as soft skills to manage his or her tasks efficiently. They are involved in the project since the initiation phase and support the project even post go-live. Also, unlike other technical profiles, business analysts learn and improve their skillsets through experience combined with an inherent ability to read people and understand situations.
A business analyst is also known to be a bridge between the business users or stakeholders and technical solution providers. This article will illustrate the key skills that every business analyst should have to be successful in his or her career.
Read also.. Roles and responsibilities of a business analyst
- Essential Business Analyst Skills And Competencies
- Core Skills and Competencies
- Technical Skills and Competencies
- Business Analysis Skills and Competencies
Essential Business Analyst Skills And Competencies
To make this article simple for you, I have divided the business analyst skills and competencies into three parts i.e. Core Skills, Technical Skills, and Business Analysis Skills. This will make it easy to understand and follow.
Core Skills and Competencies
The following are the key core skills and competencies that every business analyst should have to manage their work efficiently.
1. Effective Communication
Communication is the key skill that a business analyst should have. Business analysts are the first point of communication for the business users or stakeholders when they wish to request any change or report any defect in the current functionality or process. Business Analysts not only communicate with business users and stakeholders but the technical team as well to explain the business expectations and requirements.
A business analyst should have strong communication skills to efficiently capture the business requirements, address business issues by explaining it to the IT team.
2. Listening skills
This is related to the communication skill point. Business Analysts should be patient and listen to stakeholders. Communication is not about just speaking, you should allow business users to speak and listen to their concerns, requirements, issues, etc.
It shows that we are paying attention to what the user has to say and helps in building trust and a good relationship. It also helps you find the root cause and solution to the problems.
3. Meetings and Presentation
Business analysts spend most of his or her time in meetings and presentations. These meetings and presentations are required for;
- Requirement gathering
- Project status report
- Project catch-up, etc.
Therefore, you should be good at driving the meeting with a group of people and presentation skills.
4. Problem-solving skills
Business Analysts should have strong problem-solving skills. There would be a situation where you will be stuck with many issues and challenges. You can overcome such challenges by having a strong problem-solving skills.
A business should able to identify the problem, develop possible solutions, executing their plan, and assess to what extent the plan solved the problem.
5. Time management
A successful business analyst should be able to manage their time efficiently. You will have hundreds of emails to reply, many documents to complete, and meetings to schedule and drive. How can you fo it?
- Make a list of your daily tasks and time required to finish it.
- Skip the unnecessary tasks from the list or delegate to other people
- Prioritize them based on their criticality and importance.
- Now, execute your actions.
You can start your day early and keep your smartphone away while you are working on critical tasks. You can consider using notes, or to-do lists to manage your daily workload.
6. Work prioritization
This could be included in time management skills. There are some instances when you might find yourself overwhelmed with a lot of project tasks. You might be in a situation where you struggle to find – where to start? and most importantly you have limited time to finish all these tasks.
Therefore, you should know about prioritizing your work and reduce stress at work. How can we do it? Well, you can following the simple strategy i.e.
- List down all your tasks
- Assign a priority based on urgency and importance
- The urgent tasks should be the first in your list followed by other important items.
- Consider delegating some work to others if possible.
7. Ability to do Research
In some of the projects, you are required to perform research for a business solution. You might require to suggest a suitable solution that will require extensive market research online, benefit comparison, etc. If you are in marketing fields, then you will be required to do research daily.
This is a process of gathering information about an industry, its competition, or the opportunities available that are relevant to conducting research. What are the research methods;
- Internet or online sources
- Interviewing customers
- Conducting surveys
- Meeting focused groups
- Collecting data from physical sources like the library.
8. Data Analysis Skills
I know there is a guy called data analyst who does the data analysis in a company but having an understanding of data analysis helps business analysts to stand out from the crowd. Business analysts should be able to perform basic data analysis using excel.
This skill will be required to prepare meaningful reports for higher management and executives. You can get yourself familiar with some Microsoft excel features like VLookup, Pivot, Formulas to manage.
9. Managerial and Leadership Skills
A business analyst should have leadership and managerial skills. Though it is not mandatory or must-have skill but having these skills helps business analysts in efficiently managing their work.
The business analysts should be able to influence people, deal with hidden agendas, and resolve conflicts (that range from professional to political to personal). BA is expected to do everything that managers or leaders do but without having any authority.
10. Ability to work independently
From managing your time to prioritizing your work, many times a business analysts have to manage by themselves. You should be able to work independently and take ownership of the responsibilities that come your way.
You might not get appreciated all the time but you should take pride in your work and try to deliver the best results possible. You will be needing problem-solving, multi-tasking, time management, and work prioritization skills to be able to work independently.
Technical Skills and Competencies
Apart from the core skills, a business analyst should have some technical skills to manage the work. It is not mandatory to have coding knowledge but having the following skills will surely help in a bright business analyst career.
11. Microsoft Office Skills
Microsoft office tools might be very simple for many people but still, there are people out there who find it difficult. If you only know the basic features then try learning advanced features. You will never regret learning the advanced feature of these tools because you will be using it even if you become the CEO of the company.
Business Analyst should have expert on the following Microsoft office tools;
- Microsoft word
- Microsoft OneNote.
12. Basic Understanding of Coding
Having a basic understanding of coding helps business analysts during the code review and requirement feasibility analysis. You don’t need to master it but should know how the development works. Many online sites and youtube can teach you the basics of coding.
13. Software Development Life Cycle Knowledge
A business analyst should know the software development life cycle processes. Whether it is a waterfall or an agile model, you should have in-depth knowledge about it. The SDLC Methodology forms the framework of any Project planning the process of creating any software.
The basic steps in the software development life cycle are – Analysis, planning, Development, Testing, Evaluation. You should what activities are involved in each phase of an SDLC.
14. Database Query Skills
Some organizations expect business analysts to run database queries also however it is not the case with all the companies. Many business analysts may be able to get by without ever writing a single line of code.
This is nice to have skills and the ability to write and interpret database queries (SQL or Oracle) can greatly increase your effectiveness as a BA. Having database query knowledge improves the understanding of data flow in information systems, as it makes it easier to create reports and apply them to your needs.
15. Essential BA Tools Hands-on
There are many software or tools that are used by business analysts to capture and manage the requirements. Some of the commonly used software are;
You can sign up for the trial version and get hands-on. There are tons of videos available on YouTube that can help you learn this software.
Business Analysis Skills and Competencies
Business Analysis skills and competencies are must-have skills to succeed in this profession. These skills are required for moving an organization toward productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
16. Expert in Requirement Elicitation
Requirement Gathering or requirement elicitation is a primary job of a business analyst. It is not about collecting the requirements and passing it to the development team to develop and deliver. It is more of a requirement engineering where business analysts assess the requirements, understand them, does the impact analysis, check the system feasibility, and lot more activities before finalizing.
Most of the projects fail due to poor requirement gathering process. Most of the time any project taken by the requirement gathering and analysis phase. A well-written business requirement document out of a proper requirement gathering process can guarantee the project’s success.
A business analyst used multiple techniques to finish the requirement elicitation process like;
- Document analysis
- Focus group
- Requirement workshop, etc.
If you don’t know about it then start learning from today if you want to be a BA.
17. Quality Documentation
Business analysts are involved in the project from the beginning and they will be preparing most of the project documents. Their role is not limited to only preparing the document but also managing the business or stakeholder’s approval as well. Developing a document might sound simple but it is the most difficult and critical task.
The document should clearly illustrate the requirements and should be specific and to the points. Following are the key documents that business analysts have to prepare in a project but not limited to;
- Business Requirement Document
- Wire-frame and prototype of the system
- Stakeholder analysis document
- Current and To-Be state analysis document.
- Functional Requirement document
- Scope statement specification.
Apart from these documents a business analyst also keeps track of all the communications and meetings.
18. Decision Making
As you grow in your career and gain experience, your company’s expectation from you increases. Business analysts’ roles and responsibilities expand with the experience. An experienced business analyst will be expected to make choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative resolutions.
A business analyst can start with taking small decisions under the supervision of his or her manager or lead. This will give confidence in future decisions. You can refer the following steps to make informed decisions;
- Identify the issue where you need to take a decision
- Gather the information
- Find the alternatives
- Assess the impacts, benefits, and risks
- Select the best options
- Take action
- Review your decision and evaluate
Decision making doesn’t come in a single day, it takes time and experience to build. However, it won’t come unless you start trying.
19. Analytical View
Business analysts should have an analytical view of the work assigned. Analytical skills are very important for the business analysts because it helps them to analyze the requirements and data then take appropriate actions.
It allows business analysts to find solutions to common problems and make decisions about what actions to take next. Having an analytical view not only benefits the business analysts but the overall project. Companies usually have the analytical tools and if not then you can try learning on excel using pivot. At least you will get some ideas and steps to it. Benefits will be more clear once you start practicing in your projects.
You do not want to be the typical and boring business analyst. Being a typical BA is boring and reduces your interest in work. However, to overcome this issue, you can try to be creative in what you do.
Being creative business analysts helps in generating new ideas and finding an innovative solution to the business problems. Nothings catches management and customer’s eye than a creative approach. Your work stands out and your efforts get recognition.
Business analysts can be creative in the requirement elicitation process, communicating with stakeholders, driving meetings, etc. It keeps you energetic and increases the productivity.
Read also.. Is Business Analyst Job Boring? Real Truth
21. Relationship Building
Business analysts deal with multiple stakeholders or customers in a project. It is essential to make a good relationship to speed up the processes and getting the approvals. Building a positive or a good relationship with stakeholders, customers, technical teams, partners, etc. is not difficult.
You can build a positive relationship with them by listening to their concerns or issues and addressing them. You need to be polite with them and consider greeting when and wherever you find appropriate. A good relationship and network to stakeholders and involved partners assure the successful implementation of the project.
However, you shouldn’t try fooling them instead provide your support whenever they require and possible. Trust me! a lot of issues could be avoidable by just building and maintaining a good relationship with the stakeholders or clients.
22. Negotiation Skills
A business analysts should have the strong negotiation skills. Why?
Because requirement gathering is one of the key responsibilities of a business analyst and there are multiple stakeholders are involved in the requirement elicitation process. You will find the conflicts between the stakeholder many times when there is one process is impacting other.
Therefore, the goal of the business analysts is to finalize the deal successfully and make a win-win deal for all stakeholders. Unless a business analyst has negotiation skills, these tasks could go in a never-ending loop and you will find a hard time to close the requirements.
Similar to the decision making, negotiation skill doesn’t come in a day. It comes when you try doing and improves slowly over the period.
Nothing is better than the visual illustration of the to be system and processes. It becomes easy to relate and make an assumption when stakeholders get to see the prototype of the system. There are tools out there that make building prototype easy for the business analysis.
Prototype helps in eliminating misunderstandings and miscommunications during the development process. It also helps in reducing the time and money due to very minimum or no further changes in the system during project delivery.
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There is a difference between a business analyst and efficient business analysts. Every business analyst should learn and enhance their skill-sets to fall into an efficient business analyst category – that every organization is looking for. Unless you have the required business analyst skills, you cannot sustain for a long time and generate value for the company.
Now you know the 23 essential business analysts skills and competencies that every business analyst should possess. Just to summarize, following are the business analysts skills and competencies;
- Effective Communication
- Listening skills
- Meetings and presentation
- Problem-solving skills
- Time management
- Work prioritization
- Ability to do Research
- Data Analysis Skills
- Managerial or Leadership Skills
- Ability to work independently
- Microsoft Office Skills
- Basic Understanding of Coding
- Software Development Life Cycle Knowledge
- Database Query Skills
- Essential BA Tools Hands-on
- Expert in Requirement Elicitation
- Quality Documentation
- Decision Making
- Analytical View
- Relationship Building
I hope you learned something new in this article and it helps in your professional learning. Let me know what other skills and competencies a business analyst should have to deliver the best to the company?
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