The success of any business depends on a properly chosen development strategy. The development of such strategies is handled by a business analyst who:
- examines the data;
- generates ideas for qualitative changes in the way the business works;
- Suggests possible options for their implementation, directing the work of a group of specialized professionals (team).
The International Institute of Business Analysis calls them “change agents”.
In this article we will tell about the tasks that should be solved by such a specialist, who can master this profession, what skills one should have to achieve professional success. We will also provide data on the salary of a business analyst.
What a business analyst does: features of the specialty
A business analyst identifies business problems and suggests ways to solve them. For clarity, the essence of his work can be roughly compared, for example, to the purchase of a lawn mower: the buyer does not need the machine itself, but a smooth lawn.
That is the task of business analyst – to find out what results the customer wants to achieve (to increase profits, improve customer service, etc.), and to select the most effective solutions to achieve the desired and fulfill business objectives.
These goals may be conditioned by:
- internal aspects of the current state of the business;
- influences of the external environment;
- the transformation of the market in which the company is present, etc.
By and large, the business analyst should have his hand on the pulse of the firm’s business processes and respond to any changes in this “pulse”.
The global business objective is universal – the benefit the company can get after implementing an effective solution. To achieve this, the business analyst (company employee or engaged project participant):
- identifies and captures organizational development needs;
- summarizes and classifies them;
- carries out the analysis;
- recommends a solution, justifies its expediency;
- participates in the detailed development of changes;
- supervises implementation of solutions.
The work of the business analyst is connected with the work of the marketing department. Specialists in this area record and study external factors that affect the company’s business. In turn, business analysts identify business needs and can explain what a change in its state is related to, and offer a solution to optimize the firm’s operations.
What tasks a business analyst performs
Let’s look at the tasks of a business analyst with a simple example.
Let us assume that an IT company has received an order to create an effective corporate website. At the stage of discussing the details of the project it turned out that the customer had an old site and wanted to transform it. But not just by changing the design: the task is to make a more convenient web service with additional features for the customer base of this customer.
- The fulfillment company is building its work using the Scrum method, which involves a team effort.
- Each phase of the project (the so-called “sprint”) lasts 10-12 days and ends with a presentation of the new project block to the customer.
- If problems arise or there is a need to discuss controversial points, all of this is resolved in the process.
The task of the business analyst in this case is to organize such a process.
His responsibilities include:
- Analyzing the client’s problem and identifying their true needs;
- searching for and proposing ways to solve the problem (creating new models to implement effective business solutions);
- interacting with the IT department and preparing detailed terms of reference for specialists in other areas;
- determination of deadlines for each task;
- working closely with the finance department to develop strategies that optimize costs and improve imports.
- organization of negotiations with the customer and discussion of contentious issues;
- testing the product (if necessary).
Another important competence of the business analyst is tracking the relevance of information: what was important a day or two ago may no longer be relevant at the current moment.
This specialist is also responsible for the correctness of implementation of technical solutions. The work of the business analyst serves as a bridge between the development team and the customer.
What skills a business analyst should have
The task of a business analyst is to find solutions for transforming abstract ideas into concrete tasks. This requires the ability not only to listen and hear the customer, but also to ask the right questions.
- What business problem needs to be solved with the project being launched? (You need to know exactly what the customer really wants.)
- What has already been attempted to solve the problem, but did not bring the desired results? (It is important to know exactly what did not work, so that you can find new ways to achieve the goals)
- What does the result of the new effort look like? (It should be understood that you and the client see the end result in the same way, it is important to reconcile your views)
- What risks do you foresee and are you willing to take them? (A conservative client may not be inclined to take a lot of risks: being specific can help when creating a project program)
- Do you have any time constraints? (You need to know this for proper workflow planning)
- Who is the end user of this and what kind of support will they have? (The goal is to achieve a goal that satisfies everyone: both the customer and their customers)
Many customers don’t have time to discuss details: they voice an idea and say they are completely reliant on the implementer. It is better to avoid such situations, because the vision of the solution can be different, so in the end the customer may refuse to accept and pay for the work.
So, communication with the customer, a clear “look” of the final goal is a prerequisite for successful cooperation and professional maturity.
So, a business analyst is a specialist who:
- has an analytical mindset: he is able to formulate questions, analyze information, compare data and find connections between them;
- is able to work with large amounts of information and is able to communicate it to all participants in the work process. For this it is important to know BPMN (Business Process Management Notation), to know how the Scrum method works;
- is able to prepare presentations (visualize information with the help of diagrams and charts, structure it by creating blocks and categories) make reports using Power Point or other similar programs;
- learns quickly and understands the intricacies of key processes of different types of business and understands which IT systems are best to apply;
- has the techniques of persuasion, is able to negotiate. Soft Skills help to build a trusting relationship with the client.
How to become a business analyst
- The representatives of IT sphere with good technical knowledge and understanding of “kitchen” of IT from within have a possibility to become a good business-analyst. Often the business analyst sphere is taken over by testers and developers who are interested in grasping the peculiarities of the concrete industry and mastering the communication sphere.
- Representatives of other businesses (without a special IT education) have just as much chance of success. A person who knows the business processes from the inside, has experience negotiating and is able to communicate correctly with customers can master the business analyst profession. You can learn the necessary algorithms and acquire technical knowledge at training courses, business schools, etc.
Salary size of a business analyst
According to the information-analytical portal DOU, in 2020 the salary of business analysts increased on the average by $320. And that’s the best among other IT-related occupations.
In the future, a good business analyst can go further and retrain into:
- Business Architect through a deepening in systems analysis;
- a Program Manager or a Technical Director, if you want to grow as a manager;
- Business Process Consultant (Business Process Automation);
- Middle, Senior and Team Lead (if you want to move up the vertical levels).