Candidate be to Master – In a technologically driven business landscape, it’s essential for a business analyst to have a combination of hard and soft skills. We’re living in the age of information deluge and as a result, business analysis is a data-driven field. It’s key to have skills like programming, SQL, Advanced Excel, and the knowledge of data visualization plus business analysis tools under your belt.
That being said, this discipline is accessible to people from both technical and non-technical backgrounds given that they meet the mark. Soft skills are a matter of experience and conduct but technical skills have to be honed beforehand and swiftly applied to facilitate data-driven decision making. So if you’re considering taking up this high in-demand profession, you would have to make sure you know statistical analysis software like SAS, database query languages, SQL, basics of programming languages like Python & R, business intelligence tools, data mining, etc like the back of your hand to master your chosen profession. There’s no wriggling space when it comes to technical know-how.
We get that all this might sound a little daunting to people from non-technical backgrounds. There are a lot of courses, long & short that could help you meet the hard-skills requirements. To steer things in the right direction, we will take you through the technical skills you need to acquire step by step in line with the job responsibilities of a business analyst.
Table of Contents
Responsibilities & Corresponding Technical Skills
A business analyst is expected to recommend optimal solutions for users, enhance stakeholder value and increase the efficiency of business processes. They must be comfortable working with large data sets and a variety of analytical tools to help make informed decisions. It goes without saying that a few technical skills are crucial to bring this about.
In order to be an IT business analyst, a strong grasp of the industry processes is pivotal. This will include the knowledge of software development life cycle, methodologies (for e.g. Scrum tools), project & product development, several deployment models and cloud services, etc. Whichever industry the business analyst finds themselves in, a certain degree of industry knowledge is indispensable considering the analytical role they take on and the deep insights they elicit.
Database & Programming
Handling large data sets is a function of database software like Excel, SQL, etc. Business analyst needs to make themselves comfortable with SQL Query Language, important Excel functions, and key Database Administration Concepts to have their data in order. Along with this a knowledge survey and query forms to gain input from users help a lot.
The basics of programming languages like JAVA, Python, and R can be of use while configuring requirements and getting an in-depth understanding of the project or the product.
Process Modeling is the practice of visualizing the data collected to smooth out workflows and business processes. This is a pivotal point of project validation. Several types of project maps, charts, and other models are used to represent the process in a graphical manner. It would come in handy to know BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) and its variegate elements to achieve exceptional clarity on business processes. UML (Unified Modeling Language) is also a skill to acquire in order to visualize and record software design.
Requirements Engineering is a key role of a business analyst. No matter the industry, the steps of requirements elicitation, analysis, and documentation have to be followed meticulously to ensure a successful solution. A business analyst would be expected to use various requirements elicitation techniques and collaborate with stakeholders to conduct elicitation activities. Thus create Business Requirement Document (BRD) as well as Software Requirement Specification (SRS) wherever applicable. This is where soft skills, survey/query forms, and documentation software would come to the rescue of a business analyst.
It’s important to point out that business analysts are the bridge between stakeholders, users, and IT solutions. It’s their job to identify and classify stakeholders in order to engage with them accordingly. They create a responsibility assignment matrix using tools like MS Visio and work on engagement techniques. Excel is often used to create a trackable stakeholder map.
It’s all in the name. Another key aspect of business analysis is, well business analysis deploying techniques like SWOT analysis, root cause analysis, etc. It becomes important to learn how platforms like MS Visio, SWOT, etc work in order to implement their functions. Having conceptual knowledge of statistical analysis software like SAS, R, STATA is also essential to conducting in-depth analysis.
Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with what kind of technical know-how is expected from a business analyst throughout a business cycle, it’s time to test the fruit of the labor. Software testing can be called the last step of the process. Apart from manual testing, there are some tools used to conduct automated testing that an analyst needs to understand. When the product is ready for the last stage, ie User Acceptance Testing, the analyst would be responsible for the testing at every release.
Tools That A Business Analyst Uses
We have adequately established that hard skills are so important to a business analyst’s role that they are used to carrying out each and every function from their day-to-day responsibilities. In addition to this, below is a non-exhaustive list of the tools business analysts use:
MS Visio – An important tool that helps BAs prepare flowcharts, UML diagrams, record macros, etc. It also enables live process monitoring and process modeling among a host of other things.
SWOT – It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT is used to gauge strategic management techniques. It’s one of the safest tools and can be used to export and load .xml files etc.
SCRUM Tools – SCRUM originated with the need to create agile project management systems. An agile methodology is an innovative approach to increasing productivity in the software development cycle. Since it was introduced, various platforms like Jira, VivifyScrum, Targetprocess, etc have sprung up to aid productivity and engagement.
MS Suite – This one’s obvious, MS Word, Excel, and a host of other programs make it so much easier to document and store data. Almost everywhere you go, you’ll find its implementation. Some variants have also hit the market and are worth looking into.
Bizagi – Just one of many Business Process Modeling (BPM) software like Oracle BPM, Calypso, etc. Bizagi enables business analysts to model events, gateways, and transactions. It also makes it easy to allocate work and assignments.
In conclusion, business analysis is a booming field of work. There’s no better time than now to upskill yourself take advantage of this growth to climb new heights in your career.