What is a business analyst? A key role for business-IT efficiency
Through data analysis, business analysts help businesses figure out how to improve their processes, products, services, and software. These flexible workers work on both the IT side and the business side to help close the gap and make things work better.
Business analysts (BAs) are in charge of bridging the gap between IT and the business. They do this by using data analytics to evaluate processes, figure out requirements, and give executives and other stakeholders data-driven recommendations and reports.
BAs work with business leaders and users to figure out how changes to processes, products, services, software, and hardware that are based on data can make them more efficient and add value. They have to talk about these ideas and weigh them against what's possible technologically, financially, and practically. Depending on your job, you might work with data sets to improve products, hardware, tools, software, services, or processes.
BAs are agents of change.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), a non-profit professional organization, calls the business analyst "an agent of change." It says that business analysis is "a disciplined approach to introducing and managing change in organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits."
Business analyst job description
BAs are in charge of making new models that help businesses make decisions. They do this by working closely with the financial reporting and IT teams to come up with plans and initiatives to improve importing and cut costs. Robert Half Technology says that you will need to have a "strong understanding of regulatory and reporting requirements," as well as a lot of experience with forecasting, budgeting, and financial analysis, as well as an understanding of key performance indicators.
Robert Half says that a typical job description for a business analyst includes:
- Putting together a detailed business analysis that lists a business's problems, opportunities, and possible solutions.
- Budgeting and making plans
- Planning and monitoring
- Difference Analysis
- figuring out what the business needs are and telling the people who matter about them
Bob Gregory, a professor at Bellevue University and the academic programme director for the business analysis and management degree programme, says that the business analyst's most important job is to figure out what the technical and functional requirements are and then put them in order of importance.
"One of the most important things BAs do is get requirements from clients and use those requirements to help IT understand what the client really wants. "They have to work as if they own the product, even though the product owner is the business," says Gregory.
"[They need to ask] What do the systems need to do, how do they do it, who do we need to talk to, and how do we get everyone to agree on what we need to do before we do it? Jeffrey Hammond, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, says, "The BA's job is to define requirements, put them in order of importance, and get feedback and approval on those requirements."
The job of a business analyst is always changing, especially as companies rely more and more on data to help them run their businesses. A business analyst can help a company with a wide range of problems, such as outdated legacy systems, new technologies, broken processes, low client or customer satisfaction, or large organizations that are too siloed.
Business analyst skills
For the job of business analyst, you need both hard and soft skills. Business analysts need to know how to find data trends, look at them, and report them. They also need to be able to share this information with others and use it in the business world. Business analysts don't have to have a background in IT if they know how systems, products, and tools work in general. On the other hand, some business analysts have a lot of experience in IT but less in business, and they want to move away from IT and into this hybrid role.
According to the IIBA, some of a business analyst's most important skills and experiences are:
- Communication skills both in person and on paper
- Skills for working with people and giving advice
- Facilitation skills
- Think critically and solve problems
- Being able to pay close attention to details and deliver a high level of accuracy
- Organizational skills
- Understanding how a business works
- Analysis of stakeholders
- Requirements engineering
- Examining costs and benefits
- Modelling process
- Knowing about networks, databases, and other tech
Business analyst salaries
PayScale says that the average salary for an IT business analyst is $67,762 per year. BAs make the most money in San Francisco, where the average salary is 28% more than the national average. New York is second, with salaries that are 18% higher than the national average. Boston is third, with salaries that are 7% higher than the national average.