Pursuing a career in a field with high demand, such as business analysis, may not seem like a challenge; however, competition for business analyst positions is keen. Despite the increasing need for these skilled IT professionals, organizations seek out the very best talent in a challenging economy and complex global business environment.
While the business analysis field is one of the fastest-growing in the country, professionals who wish to pursue a business analyst career need executive training to augment top-notch business skills and personal attributes. Many employers look for the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP™ ) certification by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA™ ), as well.
The Top Seven Must-Have Business Analyst Skills
- Communication Skills
By nature of the job, business analysts spend a great deal of time interacting with users, clients, management and developers. A project’s success depend upon the business analyst clearly communicating details like project requirements, requested changes and testing results. Articulate language skills and outstanding written communication abilities are absolutely necessary to thrive in a business analyst career.
- Technical Skills
In order to successfully identify business solutions, a business analyst needs to know what information technology applications are being utilized, what new possible outcomes can be achieved through current platforms and what the latest technology offers. Testing software and designing business systems are also important technical business analyst skills. Gaining respect and creating a sense of confidence among IT and business end-users requires a business analyst to speak with authority the dual languages of business and technology, and to demonstrate a strong technical aptitude.
- Analytical Skills
A business analyst’s skill set must include outstanding analytical skills so that a customer’s business needs are properly interpreted and translated into application and operational requirements. A major aspect of the job is analyzing data, documents, user input surveys and workflow to determine which course of action will correct the business problem. Strong analytical skills are crucial in performing the business analyst’s job successfully.
- Problem Solving Skills
While the ability to create workable solutions to business problems is not unique to business analysts, it is a necessary skill for performing the job successfully. As with any IT role, the business analyst’s career is spent dealing with frequent and random changes. When these professionals are working to developing custom business solutions, nothing is 100% predictable – so finding ways to quickly resolve problems and move toward a project’s successful completion is paramount in the business analyst’s role.
- Decision-Making Skills
Another important business analyst skill is the ability to make decisions. As a consultant to management and advisor to developers, the business analyst is called upon for sound judgment in a wide variety of complex business matters, any number of which could determine the viability of the business for years to come. Professionals who wish to pursue a business analyst career must be able to assess a situation, receive input from stakeholders, and select a course of action – and they must often do so without hesitation.
- Managerial Skills
The business analyst’s primary role involves managing projects. Planning the project scope, directing staff members, handling change requests, forecasting budgets and keeping everyone on the project within allotted time constraints are just some of the management skills a business analyst must possess. Supervising projects of all sizes, from inception to implementation – and usually concurrently – takes a high degree of managerial skill.
- Negotiation and Persuasion Skills
A business analyst serves as a liaison between developers and users, clients and companies, and management and IT. Finding the balance between individual wants and business needs, and then interacting with a variety of personality types toward a solution that works for the business, takes outstanding persuasion skills. When competing for client projects, a business analyst’s negotiation skills come into frequent use, with the goal of achieving a profitable outcome for the company and a working solution for the client. Maintaining relationships within an organization and with external partners is an important function of a business analyst, requiring strong negotiation and persuasion skills.
Job Growth Outlook for Business Analyst Jobs
Business analysts should enjoy ample job opportunities in the coming years, according to two recent reports. A 2008 report on Jobfox.com names business analysis as one of the 20 most recession-proof professions in the country. In addition, Money magazine and PayScale.com’s list of America’s best jobs for 2009 ranks business analyst among the top 10 high-growth job, with a whopping 29% increase over the next ten years.
Thinking of a Business Analyst Career?
Professional business analysts perform a crucial role in moving an organization toward productivity, efficiency and profitability. From analytical thinking to negotiating and problem-solving, required business analyst skills can be developed through executive education programs. High-quality training and business analyst certification can also result in the confidence one needs to launch a successful business analyst career.