What is a Business Analyst?

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When this paper was first published in 2003, business analysis was just starting to emerge as a distinct profession in its own right. Prior to this the role was often performed by the systems analyst who would carry out both the analysis and the design on a new system or enhancement. This often meant that a “problem” was made to fit the “solution”. The transition from telling the client what they would be getting - versus analysing their problems and recommending solutions – was still a new one for many organisations.

How things have changed – we now have an international organisation solely for business analysts (with over 11,000 members) plus a professional, experience-based qualification. We also have a reference guide - The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®) - now into its second edition.

And yet the underlying skills needed by business analyst have remained remarkably constant – analysts still need investigative, analytical and communications skills for dealing with clients and stakeholders. They also need specification and modelling skills when dealing with developers and solution providers.

In this latest version of the paper we’ve updated the methodologies, techniques and tools references to reflect current trends and usage – but the mix of soft and hard skills which was the basis of the first version of this paper remains consistently relevant today. The business analyst can be confident that their fundamental skills will not be outdated anytime soon.

Today the term Business Analyst is synonymous with a career in the IT industry but the most successful and valuable analysts are those who understand the 'business' rather than those who understand IT. So what exactly is a Business Analyst?  What is the Business Analyst’s role?  What is the best background for this job? What skill set is required?  What type of person is the best fit?  What training is required and available?

This article/whitepaper includes:

  • The modern business analyst – a definition
  • Evolution of the business analyst
  • Typical background requirements for business analysts
  • Today’s business analyst – the job role
  • Techniques and methodologies
  • Software tools
  • A skills roadmap for the professional business analyst

Authors: Derrick Brown and Jan Kusiak, IRM Training Pty Ltd

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COMMENTS

ajmarkos posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:24 AM
Hi:

Let me ask you a question: How would you position data flow diagrams, use cases, BPM techniques, and activity diagrams relative to each other?

Hints to the answer:

* The answer is not "use whatever you feel is the best"
* The BABOK 2.0 is wrong and incomplete in answering this question

The answer to this above question is the key to what the essence of business analysis really is.

Tony
vikdave posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 12:55 PM
It may be based on where is the process are you or to which level of detail are the requirements being gathered.

Example, if you are designing a high level process then a flow diagram may be best to illustrate it and find gaps or specific points where requirements need to be gathered.

Alternatively if you are a level deeper and need to get into some specifics, then a use case will be better as that will help drive primary and alternate scenarios based on user needs.

I am rather new to the "theory" of BA, hope i am on the right track.

Thanks for the question.
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