Becoming a successful and productive Business Analyst in any industry - from IT and financial services to telecommunications and retail - requires skills that can be developed throughout a career. Business Analysts across all sectors work with senior managers and other professionals to support and redefine how organisations operate. They play a crucial part in ensuring that changes are worked across a whole business, eliminating the risk of limiting any new strategies. Whether a company is looking to improve their decision-making processes, support the implementation of new systems, or help develop a strategy – Business Analyst’s a a central function and need to be readily equipped with the skills to enact this.
Individuals with need to have a combination of technical and soft skills cultivated over time.
1) Problem solving
As a BA, your ability to quickly develop solutions within your company and projects is the ultimate achievement. A typical day as a Business Analyst will be filled with frequent change and, therefore, you should be ready to continuously adapt to be able to relay a common understanding of the problem as well as potential solutions to your team and determine the extent of its impact on the project.
2) Presentation skills
It's likely that at some point, you will need to facilitate a workshop or present a piece of work to a stakeholder or project team. Consider the content of your presentation and make sure it matches the objectives of the meeting. These presentations are not only for you to submit info. They can also work as an excellent way to extract more information or clarity from stakeholders if you are unclear on something or are looking for more detail on a particular area of the project.
3) Data Review and Statistical Analysis
After you’ve utilised your technical skills and aligned them with research conducted by your team, your position as a Business Analysts will mean some accumulation of data. The gathering and analysation of the data and statistics are where you should shine. Competent Data analysis requires you to understand gap analysis, risk assessment, financial planning, and statistical analysis, ultimately allowing for successful implementation.
4) Negotiation and persuasion skills
A business analyst will consistently serve as a liaison between developers and users, clients and companies, and management and IT. Finding a clear and appropriate balance between personal goals and the company’s needs, as well as interactions with a variety of personality types to create universal changes requires professional persuasion skills. When competing for client projects, negotiation skills are vital with the goal of achieving a profitable outcome for the company and a working solution for the client. Developing this successfully will lead to strengthened relationships within your company as well as with external partners, a factor imperative for the function of a business analyst that require strong negotiation and persuasion skills.
5) Modelling skills
Technical skills, the foundations that cement all the other components needed to become a BA. It is vital that a business analyst has a technical understanding of how problems are analysed and solved to communicate with technical stakeholders. This doesn’t mean being able to flawlessly write code or run database queries; instead, it allows you to approach your role holistically. Becoming acquainted with SQL, .NET, Perl, and VBScript only serves to better equip you in your BA role.
6) Time management:
Relevant for all jobs and industries, but proper time management for burgeoning Business Analysts is crucial to ensure that work is completed in a timely fashion and keeps projects from falling behind schedule. It requires the ability to multi-task whilst prioritising elements of your role, setting you up to be able to manage your own and others' time.
7) Develop your managerial skills
Clear Leadership is a skill that is necessary across industries; however, as a Business Analyst, it is imperative that you can make decisions that favour the overall project. The delegation, Forecasting Budgets and team-wide time management are all apart of honing your managerial skill set. Successfully cultivating this will require effective communication both laterally and vertically within your company.
8) The ability to run stakeholder meetings
Successful Business Analysts should be prepared to tackle projects of varying sizes, alongside this it is vital to not underestimate the value of face to face meetings to discuss problems in detail and answer queries. Successfully mastering effective communication within your team will often translate to this important front-facing aspect of your role as a BA.
9) Clear direction
Throughout a project, BA’s are required to provide clear direction to be able to present the overall goal to stakeholder, actionable moves for the team – all while using their technical skills to be a perfect asset to the side.
10) Sector knowledge
Any analyst should be able to develop and subsequently rely on their sector knowledge during a project. The best way to gain more sector knowledge is by interacting and networking within the industry. Ask your client stakeholders to connect you with key players, build your brand and utilise reference materials or even online resources. This will ultimately allow you to gain information that is relevant to the project and help you to reinforce your skills.
Using these ten essential skills when endeavouring to become a successful business analyst, will allow you to develop in the field in a way that doesn’t depend on you becoming an expert in every domain or industry. Instead, all ten points allow for an increased skill that can then be specified and used throughout your career.