Business Analyst in the IT industry
What is a Business Analyst?
The role of a Business Analyst (BA) is broad and exciting, some focus on business processes, whilst others hone in on a specific business area, project or system. Check out our current listings for Business Analysts here.
Skills a Business Analyst needs
Here are the four key skills we think any Business Analyst needs to possess to be great at their job.
- Problem Solving –Business Analysts are often presented with obscure descriptions of problems and requirements that may not accurately describe what the business needs. It is the Business Analysts job to probe and ask questions in order to hone and refine the problem, then investigate and document how to solve it.
- Critical Thinking – A Business Analyst weighs up the evidence and considers the implications before making a recommendation. Requirements may sound reasonable in isolation, but may conflict with other aspects of the business. It’s the Business Analyst’s job to recognise the flow-on effects of a change, questions if a requirement serves the business objective, and evaluates the risk changes may carry.
- Good Documentation Skills – Business Analysts spend a lot of time writing documents, typically outlining requirements that are specific and must avoid ambiguity.
- Good Communication Skills – Business Analysts talk to various stakeholders at multiple levels of the organisation. They need to be good at interviewing people in order to glean the information necessary. They facilitate meetings and serve as a bridge between different parts of an organisation, translating business needs to ‘IT-speak’ and vice versa.
Roles & responsibilities of a Business Analyst
The roles and responsibilities of a business analysts can be broad, depending on the industry in which the Business Analyst (BA) is working. For example, some Business Analysts focus on processes, like an end-to-end manufacturing process, whilst others may focus on specific business area or system e.g. a financial system.
Business Analysis typically involves – but is not limited to – the following areas:
- Creating and maintaining business architecture
- Defining the an organisation’s policies and approach
- Standardising an organisation’s workflows
- Systems analysis
- Conducting feasibility studies
- Identifying new business opportunities
- Scoping and defining business opportunities
- Preparing the business case
- Conducting risk assessment
- Planning the requirements development process, determining which requirements are the highest priority for implementation, and managing change.
- Gathering requirements
- Communicating requirements
- Documenting processes and changes required
- Process validation
The day to day work of a Business Analyst
Being a business analyst involves wearing a number of hats.
A Business Analyst will facilitate meetings. S/he will ask appropriate questions in order to get sufficient detail to document the changes necessary. The BA needs to be a good listener in order to pick out salient points, and be good problem solvers, as requirements might be ambiguous, conflicting or poorly defined.
From the information gathered, the Business Analyst will write up requirements. Depending on the development methodology being used, these documents can often be large and complex. Rigorous attention to detail is required as developers will use these documents to design systems. Errors in requirements that flow through into systems can be expensive to fix.
This process can often involve negotiation as trade-offs may be required. The Business Analyst often gets involved in the management of the process as multiple teams in different disciplines need to be brought together to agree on the nature of the problem to be solved.
Business Analysts courses and qualifications
There is no single path to becoming a Business Analyst. Sometimes, Business Analysts come from company business units, as they have insider knowledge of that particular business and its’ processes. Other Business Analysts may come from related IT disciplines, such as Systems Analysis and Software Developers.
Business analysts certification courses and qualifications offered by the industry include the The Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) and related courses. The CBAP is a certification for individuals with extensive business analysis experience. An entry level BA qualification is the BA Foundation Certificate. Both courses are offered by a range of third party training companies in class and online.
Business Analyst salary
Business Analysts salaries obviously vary depending on experience, industry, employer and the nature of the task. In New Zealand, junior/entry level BAs can earn around 70K, BAs with a few years experience start at around 80K and senior BAs start at 95K plus.
The New Zealand careers website notes that demand for Business Analysts is good.
“IT employers in 2014 reported 75% of employers were planning to recruit additional staff due to an increase in new projects or customer demand. The survey found business analysis was the area of information technology that ranked highest in employers expectations to recruit for in 2014.
Because of continuing demand for their skills, business analyst appears on Immigration New Zealand’s long-term skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled professionals in this field from overseas to work in New Zealand.”
Business Analysts are typically employed in medium and large private businesses, and in many government departments. Because demand for experienced Business Analysts is high, both career prospects and job security are considered good.