What Does a Business Analyst Do (Explained by 3 Business Analysts)

Are you thinking of exploring a career as a business analyst? Perhaps hire one?

We asked experts to explain some of the fundamental roles of a business analyst.

David Alvarez

David Alvarez

Business Analyst, Zemoga Inc.

They help you understand where you are and where you want to be

In a few words, Business Analysts assess, understand, manage and enable change within your business or company. Especially in relation to digital products, change is the only constant businesses face every day.

With the emergence of new technologies (from personal devices and wearables to Business and Artificial Intelligence), choosing the best strategies, tactics, and tools that allow your business effectively reaching its audiences requires a constant adaptation process.

This means not only understanding what your users or customers want and need but also identifying how to best communicate with them and ensure their interactions with your product meet their expectations.

Embracing change requires a plan. Identifying and understanding your users and the space in which they interact with your product will take time and effort from your team, but with a structured and iterative approach that allows you to make the right decisions, your chances for success increase rapidly.

This is what Business Analysts help you do: They help you understand where you are, where you want to be, and the series of steps you need to take to get from the former to the latter.

How do they do it? Regardless of the type of product, you’re building, such as a redesigned version of your website, a new mobile application, or a social network campaign for a new product launch, Business Analysts use very effective tools and techniques for understanding what you need to do to achieve success:

Market and user research

These are very important to understand the space in which your product will live, and the audience who will use it. People interact differently with a digital product depending on the platform they use (computers, smartphones, TVs, etc) and the purpose behind the interaction.

You also need to understand what similar products are doing in the same space, and what opportunities this environment offers for your product to kick in.

Business and product analysis

Business and product requirements define the main characteristics of your product and how your company will benefit the users’ interactions with it. Business rules define the goals of your product from your company’s perspective and ensure the product’s effectiveness.

Solution design

Business Analysts collaborate with other disciplines and stakeholders in the definition of the solution or product that will be built to satisfy the business and users needs. Business Analysts provide valuable insight to the team in charge of designing and developing the product and ensure all decisions are made with the project goals in mind.

Requirements management

Business rules and users needs must be translated into functional and nonfunctional requirements that your team can understand, design, code, test and deploy. Business Analyst specializes in the elicitation, documentation, prioritization, and communication of your products requirements.

All of these activities are crucial for maintaining a clear and healthy list of “to-do items”, also known as the product’s backlog, which can then be tackled across the projects development phases.

Teamwork facilitation

Business Analysts are also great collaborators. They help centralizing valuable information and making it accessible to the entire production team, ensuring requirements visibility and understanding for every team member involved in the project’s execution.

Product evaluation

Every product iteration needs to be reviewed and evaluated. This produces new requirements, and of course, more changes. Changes are assessed again and translated into more requirements that are classified in the product’s backlog to be tackled in the subsequent development phases.

Business Analysts collaborate with business stakeholders to analyze the results of a product iteration and prepare the backlog for the next, keeping in mind user and business value of the requirements that will be addressed.

In conclusion, Business Analysts play a key role in decision-making processes and product development planning. They ensure any relevant information is thoroughly captured, assessed and documented, to properly inform every stage of the product development process, regardless of the methodology or framework being followed.

When you know all the variables that influence your business space and you have a clear understanding of available technologies your product can benefit from, the product’s chances for success increase dramatically and your team will be able to have an effective action plan.

Terry Romanishen

Terry Romanishen

Senior Business Analyst and Logistics Professional, Resolute Technology Solutions

A business analyst wears many hats throughout the project life cycle

The business analyst’s role is to identify or be presented with, a need or opportunity and bring the pertinent business stakeholders together with resources to discuss, evaluate and analyze the issue.

A project will be initiated if sufficient agreed to potential value exists. The business analyst plays a key project role through eliciting, verifying, validating, specifying and modeling requirements that are used to create, implement and maintain an effective solution.

An effective business analyst has highly developed analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, is an effective communicator, knows their industry and understands the tools, techniques, and technology used within their organization, industry, and profession.

The business analyst wears many hats throughout the project life cycle playing the role of change initiative ambassador, communicator, facilitator, and moderator. The business analyst ensures stakeholder needs are met by performing the project related tasks within each business analysis knowledge area which includes:

  • Business analysis planning and monitoring
  • Elicitation and collaboration
  • Requirements life cycle management
  • Strategy analysis
  • Requirements analysis and design definition
  • Solution evaluation

Jorge Medina Zambrano

Jorge Medina Zambrano

Executive Director, Andromeda CG

A business analyst can do many things

Some business analysts specialize in one specific area. Others are more general. Rather obvious first description. However, I can tell you a big difference that I’ve seen personally and something that not only describes what a business analyst does, but what a great business analyst does.

Ask the right questions.

Any person can come into a company and ask the generic questions that can provide certain insights into a company’s well being, operational costs, conversion rates, cost of acquiring new customers, projections, sales systems, and corporate protocols, marketing spend vs return and IT infrastructure.

However, beyond the outlining of the business processes and determining how it works, it’s truly in asking the questions that can reveal what could work best in the future.

Sometimes this translates into revealing fears of an aging workforce that does not want to change ‘what works’ for more efficient, albeit initially challenging, software systems that can help speed up some of those areas that were less-than-great, revealed by the aforementioned evaluation.

When a business analyst is requested, it is usually because a business has hit a plateau and changes could provide a boost in business health. What this truly entails is that there is a leadership problem.

Either it was something ongoing or new management wants to overhaul operations based on an outside perspective, perhaps based on industry best practices.

What’s interesting about this is that the business analyst must compare the tangible data and match it to the intangible, and make an accurate balancing act of a strategy that could benefit both the current workforce and keep the management happy.

It truly is finding out how to increase the potential of the people working in an organization. That could mean a software system overhaul or more bonding corporate outings that bring the team spirit together.

In short, what a business analyst does is listen and find out the inner ‘why’s‘ that made a company reach a specific stage. Afterward, based on the correct identification of the deep reasons why the situation at hand has truly developed, the business analyst’s role is to formulate a strategy that creates lasting and sustainable change to benefit the business in the short, medium, and long terms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does the Career Path of a Business Analyst Look Like?

The career path of a business analyst can vary depending on the goals and interests of the individual. Here are some of the common stages in the career path of a business analyst:

Junior Business Analyst: Starting out as a junior business analyst, you will work on gathering requirements and analyzing data to support decision-making processes.

Senior Business Analyst: As you gain experience, you may take on more responsibilities, such as leading projects and communicating with stakeholders.

Lead Business Analyst: In this role, you’ll be responsible for overseeing teams of business analysts and ensuring the quality of their work.

Business Analyst Manager: As a manager, you’re responsible for mentoring junior business analysts and managing teams, and overseeing projects to ensure their success.

Business Architect: In this role, you’ll focus on developing and managing enterprise-level strategies and solutions.

Management Consultant: Management consultants use their skills as business analysts to advise companies on various topics, including organizational design, strategy, and operational improvements.

As a business analyst, you can also specialize in a particular industry, such as finance, healthcare, or technology, or even a specific technology, such as data analysis or project management.

How Can Someone Become a Business Analyst?

Becoming a business analyst typically requires a combination of education and experience. Although a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as business, computer science, or engineering is usually preferred, many business analysts enter with a degree in another field and gain relevant experience through internships or entry-level positions.

In addition to formal education, there are several steps one can take to prepare for a career as a business analyst, including:

• Building strong analytical and problem-solving skills
• Developing technical skills, such as programming or data analysis
• Gain experience working with cross-functional teams
• Pursuing relevant certifications, such as the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

What Industries Typically Hire Business Analysts?

Business analysts are in high demand in a variety of industries, including:

Information Technology (IT): This industry is about leveraging technology to solve business problems and improve processes. Business analysts play a crucial role in helping organizations understand their technology needs and identify the best solutions to meet those needs.

Financial Services: The financial services industry is highly regulated and constantly evolving. Business analysts in this industry help companies comply with regulations, identify areas for cost savings, and improve the customer experience.

Healthcare: As healthcare costs and patient outcomes become increasingly important, business analysts in this industry are helping organizations streamline processes and improve the quality of care.

Telecommunications: The telecommunications industry is changing rapidly, and companies are constantly looking for ways to improve their offerings and stay ahead of the competition. Business analysts in this industry help organizations identify and implement the latest technologies to achieve these goals.

Manufacturing: Business analysts in the manufacturing industry help organizations improve their supply chain processes, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.

Retail and e-commerce: The retail and e-commerce industry is rapidly evolving with the growth of online shopping. Business analysts in this industry help organizations understand the needs of their customers and the best ways to meet those needs through technology.

What Is the Role of a Business Analyst in Agile Methodologies?

In agile methodologies, the business analyst works closely with the development team and other stakeholders to gather requirements, prioritize features, and ensure that solutions align with business goals and strategy.

The business analyst ensures that solutions are developed regularly. This, in turn, allows for continuous feedback and improvement.

In an agile environment, the business analyst must: 

• adapt to change quickly and effectively 
• have strong communication and collaboration skills to ensure that all stakeholders pull in the same direction and work toward a common goal

What Is the Role of a Business Analyst in DevOps?

In DevOps, the role of the business analyst is to work closely with the development and operations teams to ensure that solutions are designed and delivered to meet the needs of both businesses and end-users.

The business analyst is responsible for ensuring that solutions are delivered quickly and effectively and that they’re scalable, secure, and maintainable.

In a DevOps environment, the business analyst must:

• have a strong understanding of the solution’s technical and business aspects
• be able to communicate and collaborate effectively with technical and non-technical stakeholders
• have a solid understanding of agile methodologies and DevOps principles and practices to ensure that solutions are delivered iteratively and incrementally

What Are Some Common Challenges for Business Analysts?

Business analysts often face various challenges in their work, including:

• Balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders
• Ensuring that solutions are aligned with the organization’s strategy
• Managing stakeholder expectations
• Keep pace with rapidly evolving technology and industry trends
• Maintain objectivity and impartiality when working with various departments and stakeholders

Despite these challenges, business analysts play a critical role in helping organizations achieve their goals. Many find the work both challenging and rewarding.

What Is the Future Outlook for Business Analysts?

The future outlook for business analysts is highly positive as demand for professionals with strong analytical and technical skills continues to grow across many industries.

As organizations increasingly rely on data and technology to improve processes and achieve their goals, the role of the business analyst will become increasingly important.

In addition, the growth of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will likely create new opportunities for business analysts in the coming years.

What Are the Benefits of Being a Business Analyst?

The business analyst profession offers several benefits, including:

• Opportunities for professional growth and advancement
• The opportunity to work on diverse and challenging projects
• A highly sought-after skill set with a competitive salary
• The ability to make a tangible impact on an organization’s success
• Exposure to cutting-edge technology and industry trends
• The opportunity to work with cross-functional teams and build relationships with stakeholders

How Essential Are Soft Skills for a Business Analyst?

Soft skills are essential to the success of a business analyst. The following abilities are crucial for the success in this role:

• to effectively communicate and collaborate with stakeholders
• manage expectations
• navigating complex organizational dynamics
• strong interpersonal skills are important to gather requirements, build relationships, and implement solutions effectively

How Can Business Analysts Continuously Improve Their Skills?

There are several ways business analysts can continually improve their skills, for example:

• Staying up to date on industry and technology trends
• Obtaining relevant certifications and training
• Networking with other business analysts and professionals
• Participating in professional organizations and attending industry events
• Seeking diverse and challenging projects
• Continuously improving their analytical and problem-solving skills

What Are the Best Resources for Business Analysts?

Many resources are available to help business analysts improve their skills and stay current on industry trends. Some of the best resources include:

• Professional organizations such as the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA)
• Online forums and communities for business analysts
• Industry conferences and events
• Online courses and training programs
• Books and articles on business analysis and related topics

By taking advantage of these resources, business analysts can continually improve their skills and stay at the forefront of their field.

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