Some people will observe Business Analysts from an outsider perspective and assume that we’re pretty much just glorified note-takers. But not everyone experiences all of the complex, intricate exercises and initiatives occurring in the background.
Being a Business Analyst is, at its core, about creating value for organizations. It’s about facing challenges, head on, with logic and learned techniques to help you figure out the root cause of problems at the business and create solutions that help the business and its employees thrive.
But what does a BA really DO? We’ll dig into that and how you can become one in this article!
So, What Does a Business Analyst Do?
Business Analysts work with leaders and teams throughout the business hierarchy to identify areas that can be improved with greater efficiency and effectiveness, and then help implement changes across the organization.
Some of the key responsibilities of a BA include:
- Understanding organization operations and processes
- Understanding business goals, strategies, and requirements
- Facilitating meetings and discussions
- Eliciting wants and needs from stakeholders
- Information gathering and observation sessions
- Building relationships
- Supporting project implementation
- Forecasting and budgeting
Keep in mind that these are just a few of the responsibilities that a Business Analyst takes care of. One of the best things about being a BA is that there is a continuous-growing diversity in the tasks and responsibilities that fall under our umbrella. It keeps things interesting and keeps us learning!
What Does a Business Analyst Do on a Daily Basis?
That’s a really difficult question to answer – mostly because what we do on a daily basis changes every day, depending on the projects and solutions we’re working on, the organization we’re working with, and where we are in the change process. But on any given day, a BA might be:
Identifying Business Problems
Whether you’re driven by a business goal that’s been established by the CXO, or you’ve stumbled upon a process or piece of software that’s inefficient or needs a serious upgrade, it’s common for BA’s to be identifying processes and systems that are causing problems in an organization.
To fully understand the wants and needs (also known as the requirements) of the teams and stakeholders at the organization, and, ultimately, the needs of the business overall, Business Analysts facilitate and engage in elicitation sessions. These sessions can take the form of observation sessions, interviews, surveys, and more. By the time these sessions are complete, the BA will have valuable insights that help them understand what they need to build a solution that will efficiently and effectively get them to their ultimate goal.
Documentation and Modeling
Understanding the requirements needed for stakeholders, teams, and the business is great. But Business Analysts also need to be able to accurately document these requirements so the details aren’t lost and the shared knowledge can be transferred to other team members and solution creators.
To build out and fully understand the requirement, identify gaps in knowledge, and share the information with others, BA’s create visual depictions through modeling. Modeling allows the BA and other team members the ability to quickly grasp the concepts and components necessary for the requirement to be fulfilled.
A Business Analyst constantly needs to be aware of the insights provided in the data available. We need to be able to understand what the data is telling us, weigh the risks and uncover the opportunities available. We also need to be able to take the insights we glean from the data and make sense of them to provide recommendations and solutions to complex problems.
Part of the BA role is about facilitating incredibly valuable collaborative discussion, so meetings are pretty commonplace for Business Analysts. They range from creative brainstorming sessions to walkthrough presentations of the final solution, and everything in between.
These are just a few of the activities that you can expect to lead or take part in as a Business Analyst. There are, of course, many more tasks, activities, and responsibilities that you’ll undertake on a daily basis.
How Do I Become a Business Analyst?
Now that you know what a BA does, you may be wondering – as the ambitious professional that you are – how to become one. While there is no formal college degree that will qualify you, there are professional courses and designations through reputable businesses and organizations that can teach you the foundational and advanced practical knowledge that you need to know.
The BA Guide
At The BA Guide, I teach high-quality courses that start you off on the right foot and gradually increase your knowledge, skills, and learned techniques to advanced BA level courses. Here are a couple that can get you started:
Business Analysis Fundamentals
This course will give you a solid foundation in business analysis, including the tools and techniques you need to succeed. You’ll learn the key concepts based on tried-and-true methodologies – like elicitation techniques, who the key stakeholders are, requirements, and more – that will help you thrive as a business analyst! Take a look at this course here!
By understanding how Agile approaches can help organizations change faster and with less expense, you’ll be able to make yourself a more valuable member of the team. With over 70% of companies using Agile to build solutions, knowing the fundamental concepts, principles, and values is a crucial key to any BA’s success. This course will demystify the Agile Mindset and unravel the nuances of Agile’s most popular frameworks Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban. Learn more about this course here.
Once you’ve learned the fundamentals, the next step is understanding how to bring together all of the information you’ve collected, to generate a solution that provides value for an organization. I’ve taught you the what, now it is time to dig deeper into the how – and we’ll do precisely that in our Business Analysis Process Series. Within this series of courses we break down the full role and responsibilities of a Business Analyst throughout a change.
Identify and Define the Problem
In this course, I’ll walk you through my five-step process for business analysis. I’ll teach you how to identify an organization’s pain points and how to go about solving them. Then, we’ll talk about how to partner with your stakeholders and help sell the value of making change for the organization and gain the approval necessary to begin work. Take a look at this course here!
Product Owner Fundamentals
The Product Owner is one of the most important roles in Agile Scrum. They work with the Development Team to create a product that satisfies the needs of customers and stakeholders. In this course, we will teach you about everything you need to know to be a successful Product Owner – like the mindset, the responsibilities, the activities, the skills, best practices, and the core concepts. Learn more about this course here.
Essential Business Analysis Modeling Skills & Techniques
Learn the modeling techniques that you need to know to become an invaluable member of an organization. I’ll teach you the basics of eight popular modeling techniques – from SWOT analysis, process flowchart, and user stories, to stakeholder maps, RACI matrices and scoring matrices, and more. When you finish this course, you’ll be taking complex thoughts, ideas, requirements, and processes and making them easier to visualize and understand. Learn more here!
Professional Organizations and Communities
There are other organizations that you can also look into to gain professional certifications for your BA skillsets, too. One of the most widely recognized groups is the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). The IIBA offers a range of certifications, such as:
- Agile Analysis Certification (AAC)
- Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
- Certification in Business Data Analytics (CBDA)
- Certificate in Cybersecurity Analysis (CCA)
- Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA)
- Certificate in Product Ownership Analysis (CPOA)
- Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
Keep in mind, some of the certifications listed above are for more seasoned BA’s who are a little more senior-level in their careers. But you can seek professional preparation for these certifications from multiple sources, such as here, at The BA Guide, and through the IIBA. You can learn more about each certification on the IIBA website here!
In addition to online courses and certifications, there are essential Business Analyst resources that you can invest in now, while you’re just starting to break into the BA career path, that you’ll undoubtedly find useful throughout your career.
One of the most essential resources is the Business Analysis Body Of Knowledge Guide (aka the BABOK). It is the globally recognized standard for business analysis and it’s been adopted by Business Analysts and organizations worldwide. If you are an IIBA member you’ll receive the standards guide for free, but if you aren’t a member, you can purchase a copy on the IIBA website here.
I hope you’ve found this ‘Business Analysis 101’ helpful and are even more intrigued by the BA career path. If you need a few more reasons why being a Business Analyst is great, check out a previous article of mine about The Top 7 Reasons You Should Become a Business Analyst!
Regardless of why you’ve been drawn to the BA career path, I think you’ll find that it’s a rewarding job that keeps you learning, keeps you on your toes with new challenges, and helps you feel valued in your organization.
– Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide