What Is a Business Analyst (BA)? Essential Skills to Excel in the Role

If you're interested in the field of information technology, you've likely come across the role of a Business Analyst (BA). This position is integral to software projects, acting as a bridge between customers and developers. 

In this article, Recruitery will delve into the question “what is BA” and what they do, providing insights and guidance on the essential skills required to excel in this role.

What Is a Business Analyst (BA)?

a man is analyzing his project

A Business Analyst, often abbreviated as BA, is an individual responsible for analyzing customers' business needs, proposing appropriate solutions, and facilitating the implementation of these solutions. BAs may work within an organization or as independent contractors. Their pivotal role involves understanding customer requirements, ensuring clear and concise documentation of those requirements, and monitoring project progress and quality.

For example, if a company encounters challenges during the development process, the BA conducts research and devises effective measures to meet specified requirements. Furthermore, BAs can adapt and implement solutions to meet customer needs without necessarily relying solely on software solutions.

Beyond this, BAs can propose new policies, adjust processes, or provide training to a company's employees. After presenting detailed plans and gaining approval, BAs collaborate with technical and business teams to execute and deploy these solutions.

Today, BAs are not limited to the IT industry; they are essential in various sectors such as banking, logistics, and more. One key term that BAs need to grasp to streamline their daily work processes is "stakeholders," which includes anyone contributing to a project, such as technical teams, project vendors, investors, partners, and customers.

BAs offer diverse career development opportunities based on their expertise and goals, typically falling into three main categories:

  • Operations: Involves in-depth research and project work utilizing resources like time, human resources, and budget. Possible career paths include Project Manager, Product Manager, Program Manager, and Chief Information Officer (CIO).
  • Management: Includes roles such as BA Practice Lead, BA Program Lead, BA Team Lead, and higher positions like BA Manager and Business Relationship Manager.
  • Business Strategy Development: Encompasses roles like Business Architect and Enterprise Architect, focusing on shaping the strategic direction of the business.

The Mission of a BA

a man is analyzing his project

The daily tasks of a BA can vary depending on the project type, company size, and specific role. However, there are common responsibilities that most BAs undertake, including:

Direct Communication

BAs must effectively communicate with customers and internal teams. This requires: 

  • Strong communication skills
  • Enabling them to listen 
  • Asking questions
  • Persuasively presenting business solutions. 

Regular communication with project stakeholders, such as developers, testers, and project managers, is also crucial to ensure everyone comprehends customer requirements and expectations.

Market Change Consultation

BAs must not only understand current customer needs but also possess the vision to anticipate market trends and changes. They should: 

  • Conduct research
  • Analyze factors affecting the customer's business (such as user needs, competition, laws, and technology)
  • Propose creative and adaptable solutions to help clients navigate change.

Management of Other BAs

BAs may be tasked with managing and guiding other BA professionals within a project or organization. This requires: 

  • Leadership, time management, delegation, and conflict resolution skills
  • The ability to evaluate the performance of other BA professional
  • Providing constructive feedback.

Skills Required to Become a BA

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Caption:To become a BA, you need to practice required skills

Beyond understanding the definition and responsibilities of a BA, to excel in this role, you must possess the following skills:

  • Analytical Skills: BAs need to collect, process, and analyze data, information, and customer requirements, providing reasonable and effective solutions.
  • Communication Skills: Effective presentation, report writing, and technical document preparation are essential, along with the ability to communicate with project stakeholders.
  • Technological Skills: BAs should possess knowledge of software development tools, languages, methods, and the latest technologies relevant to the client's business field.
  • Learning Aptitude: A commitment to continuous learning and skill enhancement is crucial. BAs should absorb and apply feedback from customers and colleagues.
  • Teamwork Skills: Collaboration, support, and respect for other project members are vital, and BAs should take responsibility for their work.
  • Critical Thinking Skills: BAs assess and analyze data based on information, choose measures, and make recommendations to teams. They meticulously analyze requirements to fully understand customer or partner needs.
  • Business Acumen: A solid understanding of business principles and corporate strategy is necessary. This knowledge forms the basis for implementing and developing various plans.

The role of a Business Analyst is both intriguing and challenging, offering exciting opportunities within the field of information technology. To become a proficient BA, you must acquire a diverse skill set and possess knowledge of both business and technology. 

Recruitery hopes that this information about the role of a BA and the related skills required will serve as a valuable resource as you consider a career in this dynamic field.

What Major Should You Study to Become a BA?

If you aspire to become a Business Analyst, choosing the right major can significantly enhance your skills and knowledge base. Some suitable majors for aspiring BAs include:

1. Economics 

This major provides a broad understanding of various business areas, such as management, marketing, finance, accounting, and human resources. It equips you with the knowledge needed to propose appropriate solutions by comprehending business goals, processes, and challenges.

2. Information Technology

This major covers concepts, tools, programming languages, and software operations. It enables you to communicate effectively with developers, assess product quality, and evaluate technological aspects related to your client's business field.

3. Management Information Systems

Students in this major learn how to design, administer, operate, and analyze information systems—a critical skill set for both economics and engineering disciplines and an excellent foundation for pursuing a career as a BA.

Additionally, you can explore other majors related to your desired BA field, such as economics, banking and finance, accounting, law, and more. The key is to maintain a commitment to continuous learning, practice essential soft skills, and foster a spirit of ongoing self-improvement.

Comparing BA with DA (Data Analyst)

Business Analysts (BAs) and Data Analysts (DAs) are often compared due to their overlapping responsibilities, but they serve distinct purposes. While both roles utilize historical data, they differ in their primary objectives:

  • Purpose: BAs focus on understanding why certain business outcomes occurred and forecasting future scenarios, whereas DAs primarily concentrate on presenting historical data and evaluating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • Operating Method: BAs delve into the causes of KPIs and develop models to predict future outcomes, while DAs mainly assess past business activities and evaluate KPIs without emphasizing causation.
  • Tools: BAs typically utilize more complex tools, including statistical analysis and machine learning, due to the depth of their analysis and forecasting responsibilities.

In summary, BAs and DAs each play vital roles within an organization, but they come with distinct requirements and challenges. To choose between these two positions, assess your interests, capabilities, and career goals to make an informed decision.

If you are intrigued by the question "What is BA?" and possess a strong desire to become one, consider beginning your journey by exploring relevant courses, certifications, and practical experiences. Recruitery wishes you the best of luck in your pursuit of a fulfilling career as a Business Analyst!