The short, cut and dried answer is that both the systems analyst and the business analyst work on gathering, documenting, validating, managing requirements but the Business Analyst is more likely to do this with the objective of meeting business requirements while the Systems Analyst will is focused on analyzing, documenting or managing how the Information Technology (IT) software / hardware systems will be designed to meet functional / system requirements.
In a real-world project, the business analyst is more likely to be in charge of documenting the Business Use Case while the systems analyst will be responsible for documenting the Systems Use Case.
What’s In A Business Analyst Job Title Anyway?
Few things in life are as cut and dried as we hope them to be and the Systems Analyst / Business Analyst job titles blur the line all the time.
So in reality, the distinction between the Systems Analyst and Business Analyst isn’t as clear-cut as we would want!
In this article, we will explore together the roles of both types of analysts in detail to determine what the differences are, if any.
Keep in mind that the answers you discover can help you make career choices that are more in-line with your career goals and/or authentic self.
A Systems Analyst’s role varies from one company to the next. Sometimes there is a clear demarcation between the roles and responsibilities of a Systems Analyst vs. a Business Analyst and sometimes a company would use the names interchangeably.
And sometimes, an organization refers to their Systems Analysts as IT Business Analysts or even Business Systems Analysts Click Here To Read More …
Note: So, when you see a job title that says, Systems Analyst or Business Systems Analyst, don’t automatically ignore it because it doesn’t say Business Analyst, OK?
Who Is A Systems Analyst?
A Systems Analyst is an IT professional who helps determine how a system can be designed to fulfill a business, company or organization’s needs and how business requirements will be implemented by software developers, software architects, database developers and/or network administrators.
The systems analyst therefore is that guy / gal who bridges the gap between business analysts (requirements) and the software developers (systems).
A Systems Analyst understands what a system needs to do after working with the business analyst on business requirements and then translates those requirements into documents that describe the capabilities or functions of hardware / software systems that will be needed to achieve that.
After doing this, the Systems Analyst will translate this into tasks or smaller steps using documents like Use Cases, UML or by drawing diagrams / charts.
These documents will describe how data gets into the system, how data will be processed by the system, how data will be saved or persisted by the system and finally, how efficiently the entire system will respond to the users of the system.
A Systems Analyst has to be comfortable designing / documenting how multiple software / hardware programs work together even when they are from different platforms, which leads to another role, the “Systems Integrator” role.
Finally, the analyst must be comfortable when advising senior management on the computer hardware / software to invest in, in-order to meet functional requirements.
So the Systems Analyst must be knowledgeable about how the entire Information Technology system functions together, i.e. the software, hardware, and networks.
Without this knowledge, the Systems Analyst will not be able to handle the responsibility of making appropriate analysis nor be able to make recommendations to assist the user, company or organization to operate more effectively and efficiently!
Who Is A Business Analyst?
The Business Analyst also plays a role in bridging gaps between business objectives / business needs and functional requirements.
The Business Analyst is involved from the project’s initiation, possesses a great understanding of the business processes, and communicates with both the user and technical teams in order to develop solutions per the user’s request.
The Business Analyst not only interviews users, but is also responsible for presenting the recommendations to stakeholders.
Business Analysts communicate with multiple levels within the organization in order to determine what the true needs are, the best ways to meet the needs / requirements (within a reasonable cost) before present their findings and solutions to management.
This means that a business analyst needs high quality communication, listening and presentation skills.
The Business Analyst still plays a role after a software system has been implemented. When, for example, there are additional changes that need to be made, the Business Analyst is responsible for validating those changes in the requirements.
Once the Business Analyst determines how the system operates at the functional requirements level, the Systems Analyst steps into the picture to determine how to get it done.
The goal for these two analysts working together is to satisfy the needs of the user and help the organization run more efficiently and effectively.
Keeep in mind that there will be lots of times when the functions of the Business Analyst and Systems Analyst overlap too.
Is There Any Overlap Between Systems Analysts and Business Analysts?
Depending on a company’s software engineering, Systems Analyst positions can also possess some of the same responsibilities as a Business Analyst. For example, the Systems Analyst may conduct interviews with the users as previously mentioned.
Some companies may combine the duties of the Business Analyst and Systems Analyst creating the role of Business Systems Analyst.
Some of the overlapping duties may include: business process documentation, support and inventory control analysis, development / implementation of efficient and cost-effective solutions and evaluating system specifications for business requirements.
The degree of the overlap of responsibilities between business analysts and systems analysts generally dependent upon the user and/or company’s needs.
Being able to distinguish the responsibilities between these two roles gives you a better understanding of business analysis job postings.
For example, you may determine which side a job posting leans from the emphasis placed on technical skills, programming skills, Screen Design / Prototyping skills, database / data analysis skills vs. the softer business skills!
So, is there really a difference between the roles of the System Analyst and the Business Analyst? Yes and No! It all depends on the organization, company, project or team!
Regardless of whether you are interested in Business Analyst or Systems Analyst positions, review each specific job description … and hear this, even if some of the duties, roles and responsibilities overlap, don’t let it hinder you from applying for the job, OK?