Business Analyst

A Business Analyst will collect and interpret data from various sources and use that data to improve the company’s systems and processes. This can involve anything from refining current business practises to fully overhauling existing operations. The recommendations made to senior management can make an enormous difference to the success of the company, and that’s why an effective Business Analyst will be seen as an important individual within the organisational structure.

Duties and responsibilities - What does a Business Analyst do?

There will be a range of duties in any given working week, including the likes of:

  • Identifying problems and recommending appropriate action to senior management and relevant department heads
  • Preparing reports on efficiencies and non-efficiencies and communicating such information to those who need it
  • The development of in-depth E2E test cases to improve business systems
  • Supervising, training, and recruiting members of the team for both short- and long-term departmental development
  • Overseeing quality control issues regarding processes and identifying the potential for improvement
  • Researching new technological developments that could help the company’s systems become more effective and more efficient

In some organisations, the Business Analyst role will be in a stand-alone department often working along with System Analysts, while in many others it will sit within the IT section.

Qualities needed for a successful Business Analyst

Ideally, candidates will have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in something akin to business information, computer science, systems development, or business management, but it is worth noting that some corporations are willing to hire lesser qualified individuals if they show certain personality traits instead and have experience of analysis and analytics.

The traits needed to be a successful Business Analyst will be centred on the ability to identify potential issues, to act upon them and to liaise with others along the way. Ideal candidates for such a role will invariably be effective problem solvers, determined individuals with a methodical approach and a strong desire to make a difference. They will also need to be a good communicator, especially when discussing issues with senior management.

Ideally, candidates will need to be skilled researchers and will fully understand the concept of data modelling, descriptive analysis, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics. They will also have a strong awareness of business management and an understanding of the latest trends in the way national and international commerce operates.

Relevant experience in this area will help in finding several suitable vacancies that will open interesting career avenues. Similar roles which could help in becoming a Business Analyst include Enterprise Analyst, Business Architect, Functional Analyst and Business Systems Analyst.

Qualifications and technical skills - How to become a Business Analyst?

While deep technical knowledge is generally not required, experience with data visualisation tools such Tableau, Power BI and Google Data Studio is useful, especially for data modelling of large data sets. Machine learning is also increasing used for forecasting and data mining. For those with a more hands on approach programming in Python and visualisation with tools such Jupyter Notebooks is often utilised.

Industry specific qualifications can be a prerequisite and are available from several accredited bodies:

  • BCS, The Charted Institute of IT
  • IIBA, The international Institute of Business Analysis
  • PMI, Project Management Institute
  • APMG, which includes a specialist Agile Business Management certification

Career development - What is the next step after Business Analyst?

As a career path, the role of Business Analyst can be extremely rewarding. Many of the most successful in this role will have started as a Junior Business Analyst and worked their way up Lead Business Analyst along the way. In the latter position, responsibilities will include a greater emphasis on planning, often with a ‘bigger picture’ approach to the employer’s systems and processes. This can lead to senior Project Management roles and C-suite positions.

Salary and remuneration - How much does a Business Analyst make?

Salary packages for Business Analysts are commensurate with the value added to the business and generally command a good salary. The full package will depend on the experience of the individual and the scope of the overall role.