What it takes to become a Business Analyst

The business analyst profession isn’t a career for just anyone. It takes a certain type of person to make a success and a real impact in this line of work. There are courses that can give you trainable skills, but there’s personality traits and individual skills that you cannot get training on.

There are courses to help improve certain aspects of your personality, but nothing beats the natural leadership abilities that require training to improve rather than develop.

What it takes to become a Business Analyst

Business analyst training is certainly beneficial and a necessity to get into the graduate jobs market. Degrees, certification, and specialism are the three main components you’ll need to get started.

Once you start your career as a business analyst, you could find that it’s not going to be for you. That’s something you will want to know about upfront, before you undertake any training to enter the profession.

You’re best to know prior to investing your time in training, so you know upfront whether you have what it takes to become a successful business analyst.

The following are some key traits you’re going to need to be a successful business analyst.

The 5 pertinent skills a business analyst must have

1)Be a great listener

It’s one thing to listen what it is a client is telling you that their problem is, but it is another thing to register the root problems they may be experiencing. Anyone can nod their head in agreement, but not everyone will be able to understand completely what the real problem is.

The thing with analysing a business is that the objectives of the management may not be registering what the key issues are that’s holding them back.

A client may feel they know what the problem is, and task you to remedy it. That could be putting a temporary fix in place. To understand when a business plan is flawed, you need to listen.

Listen with empathy and engage with the client.

They’re acting in the best interest of their business. That’s why they hire you. You’re there to provide your honest input to push the business forward. Not to sit in agreement and just do what’s asked of you to do.

When you speak with your clients, you need to grasp the whole concept of their business.

  • What it is the business does
  • Why they’re in business (their company objectives/mission statement)
  • When it is that problems are happening
  • How to fix the problem areas
  • Where to fix those issues (the systems in use may need upgrading)
  • Who their target market are and how your implementations will help businesses meet their end objectives

All of the above factors can only be understood through exceptional listening skills. The first meeting will tell you a lot, but not everything. Ongoing communication will be required.

2)Analytical problem solving

Business owners will know their company objectives. They won’t always know how to meet those objectives. That’s what your job is for. To help identify the areas a business needs to improve on, by offering your expert advice and sound implantation plans.

You’ll converse with management, by first listening to the problems they’re experiencing. They’ll often offer their own suggestions on what they’d like you to implement as a possible remedy.

That suggestion, or sometimes a request won’t always address the underlying problem. You have to be honest with clients, and let them know when they’re solutions aren’t going to fix the root of the problem.

A client could request you to implement a new system to help them with payroll, overheads management, or order processing, or any other aspect of their business they feel needs improvement. When you know that their solution isn’t the best one, then it’s your job to let them know your suggested improvement.

As you’re the expert, some persuasion may be necessary on your part to get clients to put faith in your problem solving abilities, and then implement the solutions that let companies meet their end objectives.

It’s a job that requires a great deal of trust, as you’re responsible for the direction of someone else’s business.

You’re going to be calling on your listening skills, and meeting the problems companies have, with solutions to help the business meet their objectives.

3)Be a facilitator and not a negotiator

As you’re going to be drafted in to help businesses analyse the problems their facing, you’re going to be confident in your abilities to get the job done.

You won’t be sitting taking direction from management. You’ll be strong in your communication and not negotiate on different systems. You’re responsible for getting a business back on track.

As the expert, it’s up to you to solve the problems and put the business on the success track. That requires strong decision-making, and effective communication with your client. You’ll be communicating the benefits of the solutions you’re implementing. You’ll then be training the staff to use the systems put in place, or arranging for that.

Your solutions are not negotiable with clients. Well, they shouldn’t be as you should know the problems your client has and use your problem solving to work around those issues, with systems and other suggested improvements that meet your client requirements.

You aren’t going to be taking direction. You are going to be providing direction. You’ll lead and not follow.

That’s the difference between being a facilitator or a negotiator.

Not everyone is capable of a strong, non-debatable standpoint even when they know their solution is the best way forward.

That takes a great deal of confidence.

4)Excellent organisation skills

This relays to the written reports you’re going to have to use to keep management in the loop throughout the various steps of business change. When a company is making changes to the way they do business, it’s a nerve-wracking time. There’s resource worries, financial worries and at the back of the owners mind, the possibility of failure.

You need to meet clients where they are and work with empathy.

Confidence building is crucial, and that’s built on with effective documentation through the entire change process.

You’ll be detailing the process mapping of the strategic changes in place as they unfold. Documentation of use cases will also be involved as well as traceability.

These reports make all the changes clear to the client. They’ll be concise and accurate, which will build the trust a client has in your expertise.

This adds up to an increase in the support you have from the upper management. Time is money, money is needed for resources, and those are often limited.

The better you can increase management confidence in your abilities, the more support you’ll have to access company resources or additional financing for systems implementation, or anything else you need to address the fundamental problems facing a business.

5)Be forward thinking and great interactors

Communication only forms part of the equation in a business analyst role. You’ll need to fit well into any business you’re working with. You’ll be interacting with departmental managers and their staff.

That interaction will need two-way communication. Not every manager is going to have the same idea of the problems facing a business. As you communicate with managers, and the staff going down the chain of command:

  • Company director
  • Business Manager
  • Department Manager
  • Assistant Managers
  • Team Supervisors
  • Front line staff

 

Everyone is going to face different problems in their job. Your interaction will be to ask the right questions that give you a complete overview of the real problems a business is facing.

What seems obvious to the managers may not represent the complete picture. Your interaction with everyone involved in the business will show the real picture of all the problems a business is facing.

That can be daunting when you’re faced with the facts.

You need to act on what is fact and use your problem solving expertise to get things in place that will benefit the business by meeting their objectives.

When you work with a business that may seem to have a bleak outlook, you will need to have forward thinking abilities, of how your solutions are going to have all staff working productively towards the success of the business.

By looking at the end goal of a business meeting their objectives, you’ll be able to see the true potential the business has, and make that potential a reality for the business.

It’s not everyone who has all these skills, and that’s why when you become a business analyst, with the right mindset, skills, and systems knowledge, you can make a real impact to the success of every business you work with.