10 Essential Skills Every Business Analyst Should Master

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As a business analyst, it’s up to you to analyze the processes within an organization, highlight areas for improvement, and modernize processes. 

Do you have what it takes to excel at this career? These are the 10 essential skills every business analyst should master to get ahead in this competitive environment.

Adaptability and Continuous Learning

Continuous Professional Development

Strive for continuous professional development. Make this a habit by attending relevant training programs and staying up to date with industry trends. 

Don’t be afraid to seek new professional certifications. You’re never too old to be a programmer or anything else you deem fit for your professional growth.

Agility and Adaptability

In fast-paced and dynamic business environments, adaptability and flexibility are key. Be open to new ideas and methodologies. Implement new tools and technologies. 

Things are changing, especially in the world of commerce and tech, and you need to be able to change with them.

Technical Skills

Proficiency in Data Analysis

Data analysis is the new catchphrase and for good reason. It’s making inroads in every industry, from online commerce to technology and even call center environments. And its benefits are far-reaching.

Data analysis identifies new trends by determining patterns. This will allow deeper insights into the health and growth of the organization. 

Increase your portfolio of analytical tools. Familiarity with tools such as SQL, Excel, and data visualization techniques will help. 

Understanding of Business Process Modeling

This entails representing the organization’s processes with graphs, graphics, and diagrams, for analyzing and improving workflows. It’s often easier to see what’s going on in the company, with visual representations of everyone’s duties.

With business process modeling, tasks are clearly defined, making it easier to see where adjustments need to be made. Knowledge of process modeling techniques like BPMN and UML will be to your advantage.

Familiarity with Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

At every stage of the software development life cycle, you’ll need to collaborate with new product developers and testers. A stronger grasp of each stage of this cycle will help you to better understand each player’s role in it.

If you don’t know much about any or even all of the stages of development, ask questions. This is not going to be seen as a failure on your part. It’s a strength to admit what you don’t know and make the effort to learn. Or take a short course in software development to have a stronger grasp of this important cycle.  

Photo: Pixabay

Soft Skills

Effective Communication

Never underestimate the so-called ‘soft skills’ of the business world. They’re as relevant to the tech industry as to any other sector. A communications course is a great place to start because these are not always innate skills – they are valuable skills that can be taught.

Clear and concise communication requires not only stellar written and verbal communication, but active listening skills as well. 

Show whomever you are communicating with, from the lowest rung of the employee ladder to the upper echelons of management, that you value what they have to say. Be clear when you communicate your ideas, and remember that confident body language is part and parcel of communication and collaboration.

Stakeholder Management

Are you expected to liaise with business stakeholders? This can be challenging, especially when they aren’t seeing the results they’re expecting. These vested interests can sometimes have unrealistic expectations though, and it’s up to you to manage their hopes (and fears) diplomatically.

To manage stakeholders’ expectations, you’ll be wise to build strong relationships with them. This means laying a firm foundation of negotiation skills, on which to build consensus and resolve conflicts. Conflict resolution training is an excellent investment to hone these skills.

Strong Analytical and Problem-Solving Abilities

A large part of the business analyst’s duties revolves around identifying and resolving business problems. Strategies for scaling up the business will rest heavily on your insights.

This necessitates critical thinking, logic, and reasoning. And the ability to construct practical solutions to everyday business problems, big and small. Some analysts are naturally strong in these skills, which is why you chose this career in the first place. 

But these skills can be sharpened and improved upon, by staying involved in projects in development. 

You may also learn a new thing or two from the project team members, even those who are normally quieter.

Domain Knowledge

Business Acumen

To better serve the business environment you are employed in, get a handle on what it is that they do. Learn about the industry, emerging trends, and its place in the national/global market. To achieve greater fluency in their business language, study their business models and strategies, past and present. 

Much can also be learned from how your organization rivals. If they’re getting ahead, identify why. What could your business be doing differently that its competitors are already benefiting from? Any good business analyst does more than just analyze stats close to home, but also does so on a larger scale.

Familiarity with Regulatory and Compliance Requirements

Every business, regardless of which sector it’s in, has to follow certain rules and comply with particular regulations. Do you know what these criteria are? Knowledge of relevant regulations and frameworks, such as GDPR or HIPAA is crucial. 

No matter if you’re in the healthcare industry with safety procedures, the tech industry with security regulations, or the finance world with financial laws, you’re going to need more than a basic understanding of these requirements.

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