What is a business analyst?

So you want to be a business analyst

Business analysts act as a bridge between technology specialists and the wider business, and as employers become increasingly reliant on technology, demand for such positions is growing.

But what experience and skills are necessary to excel in this role, and what day-to-day tasks are typical for a business analyst?

"A business analyst is someone who analyses the organisation and design of technical systems, business models, processes and strategic business needs.

"They will also be responsible for discovering the actual needs of stakeholders and not just what they desire. In many cases a business analyst will facilitate communication between business departments.

"In particular, they will often play a central role in aligning the needs of a particular business unit with the capabilities that can be delivered by technology." Says Chris Ingman, Manager at Robert Walters.

What responsibilities are typical for a business analyst?

These will vary depending on the focus of the BA or individual project being worked on, but can include:

  • Developing a clear understanding of all existing data requirements
  • Running specific analysis projects
  • Supporting initiatives to improve reporting quality
  • Working with stakeholders at all levels as defined by the individual project
  • Improving the quality of the products and services delivered by technology
  • Assisting with integration and acceptance testing
  • Supporting the development of training and implementation material
  • Providing support during and post implementation
  • Acting as a “translator” between the business and technology
  • Developing project plans and providing project management assistance

What technical skills and expertise is required for business analysts?

"Most employers look for someone who has a good understanding of business analysis, including knowledge of appropriate analysis or modelling tools. A proven track record and relevant experience working in a similar industry or environment is also highly desirable to enable the BA to ‘hit the ground running’ in their new role. 

Systems and data analysis skills, such as SQL and desktop data analysis tools, are also desirable skill sets. Beyond that, previous exposure to managing stakeholders at all levels is key." Chris continues. 

What personal qualities are required?

Excellent interpersonal and communication skills – written and verbal – are fundamental to success as a business analyst, including the ability to adapt message to different audiences. You should be a creative thinker who can provide alternatives to existing or proposed solutions.

You should also be proactive, dynamic and have the desire to make a difference, coupled with strong business knowledge. As a business analysts, you must be able to understand the detail but also able to take a big picture approach.

How much can I earn as a business analyst?

Working as a business analyst can potentially be very financially rewarding. Your earning capacity will vary depending on seniority and from organisation to organisation. For example, a business analyst within a commercial organisation could expect a basic salary of £35-65k in a permanent role and £300-500 per day for contract roles. Within an investment bank, a business analyst could earn £65-95k for a permanent role and £425-650 per day for a contract position.

A business analyst is someone who analyses the organisation and design of technical systems, business models, processes and strategic business needs.

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