Businesses need every advantage they can get to succeed in today’s competitive environment. As a result, many organizations are turning to data analysis to help them succeed with fewer missteps. Business analysts are a vital part of that success and are in high demand, making the profession an intelligent choice for people who want a secure career.
But what kind of business analytics skills does an aspiring business analyst need? Which hard and soft business analyst skills are vital? This article explores the top ten skills required for business analyst success. We will cover the best business analyst key skills, business analyst hard skills, and business analyst soft skills. Additionally, we will cover business analyst technical skills, business analysis tools, and other business analyst qualities.
Before exploring critical skills, let’s review what a business analyst is.
What is a Business Analyst?
Business analysts support organizations and businesses by analyzing their processes, services, systems, and products, so they can improve the current processes and make cost-effective decisions through data analysis and insights. Business analysts also help companies spell out their business processes by evaluating the business model and how it meshes with current technology.
Business analysts are chiefly responsible for communicating with the company’s managers and stakeholders. They analyze, elicit, and validate the requirements to effect changes to business processes, company policies, and information systems. A good business analyst guides an organization toward greater profitability, efficiency, and productivity.
Business analysts must have a solid understanding of the following:
1) What the organization does and how it achieves its purpose
2) Improving existing business processes
3) Identifying the tasks or steps required to support the implementation of new features and feasible solutions
4) How to design any new features that must be implemented
5) Analyzing what it means to implement the new features
6) How to personally implement those new features
You can get a greater in-depth understanding of business analysts here.
What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Business Analyst? A Brief Job Description
Since we’re trying to figure out essential business analyst skills, let’s begin our query by looking at the roles and responsibilities of a business analyst. That way, we have a better idea of what skills a successful business analyst needs on their resume to meet those expectations.
1) Evaluate business processes, including predicting requirements and designing and implementing solutions. This task includes prioritizing business requirements and anticipating technical challenges.
2) Analyze the company’s processes and communicate feedback to other team members and management. This task includes talking with technical leadership, technical stakeholders, and possible non-technical employees.
3) Stay updated on the latest IT practices and technologies to automate processes better and improve organizational efficiency. Then, find technological solutions to meet these goals. Unfortunately, this means the business analyst may, on rare occasions, have to write code.
4) Conduct research and competitive analyses
5) Perform budgeting and forecasting duties
6) Plan projects and monitor them with regular requirements checks
7) Perform regular reporting and analysis
8) Handle pricing duties
9) Lead and manage teams
10) Manage competing resources and priorities while conducting regular checks on deliverables
11) Manage projects from end to end, including problem-solving and implementing technical solutions
The Technical Skills a Candidate Should Have Before Trying for a Business Analysts Job
The typical IT business analyst should have a reasonable degree of technical knowledge. Although the role of a business analyst isn’t purely technical, a candidate must have a good working grasp of concepts such as programming languages and other technical concepts.
Here are the critical technical business analyst skills a professional should master.
Basic Technical Skills
These are elementary IT-related skills that many professionals are expected to have to some degree.
4) PowerPoint presentations
5) Spreadsheets (e.g., Excel)
6) Word processing (e.g., Microsoft Word)
Business analysts should have a passing understanding of the operating systems most used by their organization.
Business analysts use data, and raw data is stored in databases. If a business analyst finds themselves having to work with data mining or data analytics, they should have an excellent working knowledge of databases and their concepts, such as:
1) Cloud databases
2) Real-time databases
3) Relational databases like MySQL, SQL Server, or Oracle
4) Non-relational databases like key volumes, wide column stores, and document stores
Business analysts sometimes need to participate in software testing. They should have a rudimentary understanding of techniques and concepts like:
1) Automated testing
2) Manual testing
3) Test cases
4) Test scripts
We mentioned earlier that business analysts might have to write code on rare occasions, especially if the business deals with software development. That’s why it’s a good idea to learn programming languages such as:
Now let’s look at those ten most crucial business analyst skills. There may be some overlap with some of the previously discussed skills, but this speaks to their importance.
The Top 10 Required Business Analyst Skills
Business analysts need excellent communication skills. Since a business analyst’s primary role is to provide solutions for business development, they must be able to share their ideas and views clearly and precisely with their team. This job also involves meeting clients and stakeholders, so analysts must ensure that clients understand their points. Consequently, this category includes listening skills and written communication skills. Communication is the most important non-technical skill a business analyst needs.
Critical Thinking Skills
Business analysts routinely analyze data and meet the client’s expectations. Thus, analysts need good critical thinking skills to analyze data, set priorities, and consider the different aspects of the company’s business, clients, and needs.
Data Visualization Skills
Business analysts use data visualization to help transform raw data into actionable digital representations, help clients understand the data, and make strategic choices to accommodate their needs. These tools are essential:
1) Power BI
2) Qlik Sense
Business analysts are expected to help businesses grow by providing solid solutions. Thus, business analysts need to know how to make good decisions, including looking at the problem from multiple perspectives and considering all possible results.
Business analysts can create fantastic ideas, develop unique insights, and implement informed solid plans. However, analysts must document these efforts. Otherwise, they will be less helpful. Documentation helps analysts convey their ideas to the team, management, and stakeholders. Good documentation plays a crucial role in presentation skills.
Business analysts use the Excel spreadsheet app to perform various calculations, create reports, and conduct budget analyses to reveal business trends. Excel is one of the oldest, most respected, robust reporting and analytics tools.
When it comes to interpersonal skills, negotiation is high on the list. Many parts of a business analysis involve negotiation. Business analysts are often called on to act as a bridge between the various teams within an organization and management, clients, and stakeholders. This task involves patience, social skills, and sometimes laying down the law.
If you’re a business analyst, you are going to face problems. That’s why it’s critical to develop good problem-solving skills. This process involves:
1) Identifying a problem
2) Determining the problem’s root cause
3) Examining the problem from different perspectives
4) Finding a potential solution
5) Identifying the probable results of the solution
6) Implementing the solution
7) Conducting follow-up to see if the solution needs tweaking or improving
We have already mentioned how business analysts may sometimes need to perform coding or other technical functions. Here’s an expanded list of possible languages and databases:
5) SQLite and MySQL
We can lump “software development skills” in this category as well, so business analysts should also have a working knowledge of various software development methods such as:
3) Waterfall development
4) Rapid application development
Statistics and Probability
Business analysts should use available data to find solutions, and statistics and probability help analysts connect the dots and create the correct answers. In addition, statistics help business analysts predict future results by analyzing past outcomes, and probability aids business analysts in making decisions based on patterns found in the collected data.
Other Important Business Analyst Soft Skills
For completeness, let’s touch upon a few bonus soft skills essential for a successful business analyst.
1) Self-management. Business analysts should know how to manage their time and energy, balancing demands against deadlines and commitments.
2) Self-confidence. However, a good business analyst has a thick skin and learns not to take things personally.
3) Manage ambiguity. If everything were crystal clear, there’d be no need for business analysts. However, ambiguity is everywhere, and business analysts must learn to accept it and work through it. That means embracing new ideas and information that unexpectedly pops up.
4) Building relationships. This skill is also known as stakeholder relationships—this soft skill creates solid relationships and builds trust with stakeholders.
Business Analyst Hard Skills and Business Analysis Tools
Business analysts have a lot on their plate, but fortunately, they also have many valuable tools to help them meet these challenges. These tools include:
1) Basic Office tools. This selection includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
2) Blueprint. This tool helps business analysts line up business strategies with IT execution, employing easy-to-use dashboards and tools to create reports and support organizational transformation.
3) Trello. Trello is a collaboration tool that facilitates communication and data sharing between team members. You can view team activities across boards, export data, change privacy settings, and organize boards.
4) SWOT. SWOT is a free tool that helps business analysts evaluate their businesses. The acronym SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
5) MS Visio. This modeling tool helps business analysts create data models, prepare process flowcharts, and create architectural diagrams.
You Can Become a Business Analyst!
If you’re intrigued by the idea of becoming a business analyst, why not sign up for a business analytics bootcamp? In collaboration with IBM, the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management can help you master business analytics in just six months!
The bootcamp teaches you how to make data-driven business decisions using a high-engagement learning experience paired with real-world applications. You will learn essential business analytics skills such as:
1) Business Analytics
2) Descriptive Statistics
3) Prescriptive Statistics
4) Predictive Statistics
5) Data Visualization
6) Hypothesis Testing
7) Linear Regression
8) Logistic Regression
Salary.com, says business analysts in the United States earn an annual average of $80,994. So embark on a secure, challenging career with generous compensation and great opportunities. Check out the bootcamp today, and take that crucial first step to a better future!!