ON BECOMING A BUSINESS ANALYST – THE BUSINESS ANALYST JOB DESCRIPTION
A business analyst is an information technology worker who improves the efficiency and productivity of business operations.
The business analyst achieves this by closely analyzing the business processes in an organization for inefficiencies.
When inefficient business processes are discovered, the business analyst makes recommendations for business process improvements.
If the recommended solution is approved, the business analyst works with computer programmers, lead software developers, software managers and other information technology workers to implement the recommended solutions.
The business analyst works in a team, acting as a liaison between the business team and the software development team.
The business analyst is the information technology worker who lives in two worlds, one being the business world and the other being the software development world.
A business analyst needs to understand software development enough to discuss the details of the business process improvement project with computer programmers assigned to the project in a technical language programmers understand.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Business Analyst
The roles and responsibilities of a business analyst include:
Acting as a liaison between the software development team and the business team.
Writing feasibility studies, project briefs, cost analysis, testing schedules and user manuals for new business processes.
Analyzing business processes to identify problems and implementing solutions that improve the business process.
Communicating and presenting technical solutions for business problems to business stakeholders and owners.
Documenting or explaining complex business operations to software developers.
Career Outlook and Prospects for Business Analysts
Like the other professions in software development, business analysts also have well-paying jobs. In 2006, business analysts in the United States earned an average of $68,579 annually, with bonuses amounting to $3,783. The total increase from the figures of 2005 is 3.1%.
Business analysts who become contract information technology workers can earn six-figure salaries.
I recommend that you read two of my previous articles on contracting if you are interested in becoming a contract business analyst. The first article is the how to become a contract business analyst. The second is Full Time Business Analysts Or Contract Contract Business Analysts.
Both articles will help you decide whether to be a full-time business analyst or a contract business analyst.
Skills and Requirements for a Business Analyst
In some organizations, the business analyst works with a team of computer programmers and does not need to master computer programming.
In other organizations, the line separating the business analyst and the computer programmer is fuzzy, therefore the business analyst must know how to code. In cases like this a beginner or entry-level mastery of computer programming is all that is needed.
Generally, a basic computer expertise in computer programming will help a business analyst perform their work better.
To gain this basic expertise in computer programming, an aspiring business analyst should have a solid understanding of SQL, data analysis, reporting, UML, Visual Basic programming, Microsoft Office Automation and a few other software packages.
Just bear in mind that this varies from organization to organization.
The ability to work in a team and to coordinate among people is also a skill that the business analyst needs to cultivate. Good writing skills and communication skills are also helpful in this career.
1. Technology Skills: Computer programmers spend the majority of their time writing code while business analysts spend a minor amount of time writing code.
2. People Skills: Business analysts invest a lot of time interacting with business users a lot, so they need good communication and relationship skills.
Computer programmers tend to invest most of their time working on software that will be used by people. So communication and relationship skills are secondary to technical skills for software developers.
3. Entry level requirements: Business analysis positions tend to have lower entry level requirements than computer programming positions. Business analysis positions tend to pay lower than computer programming positions as well.
One of the advantages of learning computer programming is that you instantly have a lot of well-paying career options including software project management and business analysis.
The business analyst career stands out because it gently introduces you to the software development industry. It also provides you the opportunity to use more of your communication, relationship-building and data-analysis talents.
After more than a decade in software development, I’m convinced that many people don’t realize they have the option of becoming a business analyst. I hope that you do decide to become a business analyst if you are not really cut out to be a computer programmer.
If you want to become a business analyst or are looking for a business analyst job, begin by reading the series titled “The Business Analyst Job Description” to get the foundation or knowledge you need to succeed in business analyst jobs or roles.