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The term business analyst has vast connotations. Although it is established that a business analyst plays a crucial role within any organisation, it can still be considered in its infancy stage. Only because the expectations that an organisation has, or the job description of every organisation for a business analyst is unique, obviously with a few common factors. It can be easily put that a ‘Business Analyst always works, or performs their set of tasks and techniques in liaison with the stakeholders, so that they can understand the policies, procedures, and operations of an organisation, and base their recommended solution for process improvement, with the intention of assisting the organisation to reach its business goals in an effective and efficient manner’.
The role of a business analyst, initially came into existence to bridge the gap and aid smooth functioning between IT and other business functions. However, over the years the role of a business analyst has transitioned from or is not only restricted to IT solutions but has progressed into assisting the organisation, find solutions in a more holistic manner so that its goals can be achieved. The role of a business analyst thus encompasses a wide range of responsibilities.
To simply put it, the business analyst life cycle will look something like this,
- Understand how the business functions
- Determine areas of opportunities in the existing business (planning and monitoring)
- Decide on tasks or steps that can be automated, and lead the way (Understanding requirements)
- Create functional specifications, IT or Non IT related (translating and analysing requirements)
- And lastly implement the new feature, gauging the impact and then start all over again. (requirement management and communication along with deployment)
Any skilled business analyst will use the requirements to drive and review the design, process any change requests, manage the scope of the project, its acceptance, and installation.
Mentioned above are a broad set of responsibilities that the business analyst from any vertical within an organisation will work around, therefore one will find many nomenclatures which are synonyms to that of a Business Analyst, such as a Business Process Analyst, IT Business Analyst, Requirement Analyst, Data Analyst etc…,
The role of a business analyst is employer specific, while some might require only IT knowledge, others might require finance or accounting background and a few might want specific marketing skills. Academics from a specific field is not that crucial, as far as you have a bachelor or an equivalent degree. Although in recent times employers swing towards candidates with a degree in MBA, or a Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM), or a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MS-BA).
You can also boost your portfolio with certifications, especially if you intend to take up this role with a few years of work experience. Depending upon when in your career you plan to enter this field, it is important to take stock of your transferable skills.
Basically, the role of a business analyst requires a combination of Soft skills, Technical skills, and Transferable skills. Analytical skills, critical thinking, problem solving skills, research skills, communications skills, understanding of IT skills, which would mean some systems knowledge above using Microsoft office efficiently could help a great deal.
People interested in a career change or initiating their career as a business analyst should acquire additional qualifications through relevant certifications that can leverage their existing skills. For a role of a business analyst is much sought after these days, and as forecasted the demand will only continue to grow.