Business Analyst

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What Exactly Is a Business Analyst, Anyway?

To start things off; let’s say that, if you where to ask ten different HR Professionals what a Business Analyst is, that you would probably get about 10 different answers. Well that is basically the problem that the emerging field of “Business Analysis” is facing. So, to get a little clarity on the matter, let’s start by dividing all analysts into the two major categories; business (non-technical) and technical. These will be the two main divisions within the title. This is not to say that one isn’t able to or on occasion required to work on both sides of the fence. This only goes to prove how confusing the title “Business Analyst” really is.

The first side of this very broad coin is the business side. This will be those professionals who apply a specific methodology to provide solutions that increase the value of a company or a business.

The opposite side of the coin is going to be the IT or Technical side. Now, this side has a basic function of applying specific methodologies to provide “technical” solutions to problems, which increases the ability of the company, which in turn increases the value of a company. Confused yet? OK, moving on.

Many times analysts are hired to not only find the problems but to also provide solutions. This is a completely different role than a project manager. As a general rule a company will acquire the services of an analyst or a firm to address a particular issue or problem that it is facing. The analyst will then go to the business, collect data, apply methodologies and principles, and create a solution. At this time a requirements analyst will assess the needs and requirements (this may or may not be included in the solutions initially provided). This information is then passed on to a Project Manger. The PM will then follow his/her proven methodologies and techniques to produce the final product on budget and on time, hopefully.

Basically to describe what a business analyst is, we have to describe the work that a business analyst does. Because it doesn’t matter if the title is business analyst, process analyst, requirements analyst, operations analyst, business systems analyst, systems analyst, consultant, programmer/analyst, etc; the only thing that makes an analyst an analyst is the systematic approach to problems and solutions through predefined methodic principles.

Just a few of the characteristics of a BA will be that the analyst;
• Works with businesses to identify improvement opportunities within processes or operations
• Gathers, documents, and analyzes needs and requirements that a business may have
• The BA solves problems that companies have

There are different organizations that create or adhere to accepted standards of practice in the field of business analysis. One of which would be the certifying agency of the International Institute of Business Analysis another would be the Object Management Group. These organizations will adhere strictly to certain methodologies that when properly employed will lead not only the analyst, but their clients, to a successful outcome regardless of current situations.

Methodologies can vary greatly depending on the disciplines of the particular analyst or firm. No single methodology is right or wrong; however do keep in mind that there are several well defined sets of disciplines that can be verified with a simple internet search. If an analyst claims to use a particular system or discipline, check out.

So just to sum everything up, a business analyst is basically defined as somebody who performs certain tasks to make your business better. Like it has been said before, if you have a problem with your car, you find a mechanic. If you have a problem with your health, you find a doctor. If you have a problem with your business, you find a business analyst.

How to Become a Business Analyst?

There is a burgeoning demand of professionals who can effectively recognize business requirements, devise solutions and execute plans that help businesses in accomplishing their goals. Known as ‘Business analysts’, such people work in a diversified range of industries across various job profiles. The business analyst job has become synonyms with IT specialists. As an analyst, you act as a viable link between business needs and the technology which is employed in the company.

Nowadays, the scope of business is very wide. You can work with the independent firm, where you need to use your expertise on particular projects, or you can work within a particular industry, like transport or banking.

Business analyst job requirements-

While it is not an exhaustive list, but an analyst would be expected to do the following tasks-

1= He needs to maintain cordial relations with clients
2= He has to make sure that all projects are following the deadline
3= He needs to develop and present ideas to the management
4= He imparts training to technical staff

Requisite qualifications

There are no particular qualifications required to get a business analyst job, although, a bachelor degree is required for the entry-level business analyst position. Usually, top-notch companies prefer to hire candidates who have a degree in business administration. A prior experience would be an added benefit. These analysts come from different educational backgrounds. An IT background can be beneficial in certain areas.

Required skills and traits

In order to find a lucrative business analyst job, a person should possess strong technical knowledge along with communication skills. Apart from these, you should have the following traits-

1= Negotiation skills
2= Managerial ability
3= Persuasion skills
4= Analytic
5= Team building ability
6= Strategic thinking

Career prospects

As there is a high demand of analysts in industries for improving business performance, employment of these professionals is likely to increase in a near future. The majority of jobs exists with big consultancy firms and you can also explore opportunities in large companies. Business analysts, backed with expertise and educational qualification, are set to enjoy flourishing career prospects. These analysts are required in almost all industrial sectors, including pharmaceutical, banking, telecommunication, insurance, etc.

Some of the popular job profiles exist in this domain are-

1= Data Analyst
2= Systems Analyst
3= Business Architect
4= Business Consultant
5= Business Process Analyst
6= Requirements Analyst

How much can you expect to earn?

In the past few years, the salary packages of business analyst have sky rocketed. The salary package would depend on a diversified range of factors, including location, company and experience. If you are working with a leading company, then you can easily earn Rs 50,000-80,000/month. Experienced professionals with advanced degree & qualifications can even earn Rs 1 lakh/annum. The IT analyst earns perks also.

Some of the top companies offering analyst jobs in India are-

1= Infosys
2= Wipro
3= IBM
4= Microsoft
5= Google India
6= RCOM
7= Accenture
8= HCL Tech
9= L&T
10= Deloitte

An analyst acts as the savior of the company, if it is moving towards troubled waters due to the bad business practices. When a company appoints a business analyst, then it not only helps in augmenting the functioning of the company, but it also makes it easy to interact with clients.

The Business Analyst Career

Job Of A Business Analyst

A business analyst can prove to be a savior for the business, if it is heading towards troubled waters on account of faulty business strategies. Hiring a business analyst not only improves the working of the company, but also simplifies client interaction. Therefore, if you take a job as a business analyst, keep in mind that you are expected to help the company save money.

A business analyst interprets the project terms and simplifies the business requirements of the stakeholder and sponsor. They formulate an effective project communication system. It is the business analyst’s job to gather accurate data and analyze information on clientele, staff and users, in relation to the technology used. Business analysts are needed in all industries, whether banking, telecommunication, software or pharmaceutical. They are employed in consultancies to offer business related solutions to client firms.

A business analyst studies various business-related problems and works toward finding solution for them. The job also involves system and functional analysis. The business analyst is a common link between the department of information and the enterprise. They collate and document the necessary requirements for the business and make it available for the information technology department.

The Business analyst understands the specific needs of the organization and finds a sound technical solution for the same. They interpret the project terms and simplify relations between the IT department and the business as a whole. The business analyst gathers accurate data and information about the staff and users, in connection with the human resources department and the technology at hand. Thereafter, they develop an effective project communication system, keeping in mind the various business possibilities and predicted threats. In larger organizations, there are both Senior Business Analysts and Junior Business Analysts.

The Functions Of A Business Analyst Are:

Strategist – A company should always focus on a winning strategy. Business analysts provide various business strategies that enable the business to survive the constant competition.

Architect – After strategically analyzing the business needs, the business analyst designs a work strategy to run the business efficiently. Afterwards, the business analyst provides the company with a design to achieve the company goals and objectives.

System Analyst – System analysts work towards getting the best returns from expensive IT investments.

The business analyst has to make sure that the business does not face any threat in future. As a part of their job, a business analyst warns the company about the various profit and loss possibilities in the future. This helps management to be able to tackle any kind of situation efficiently.

Benefits Of A Business Analyst Career

A business analyst can prove to be a savior for the business, if it is heading towards troubled waters on account of faulty business strategies. Hiring a business analyst not only improves the working of the company, but also simplifies client interaction. Therefore, if you take a job as a business analyst, keep in mind that you are expected to help the company save money.

A business analyst interprets the project terms and simplifies the business requirements of the stakeholder and sponsor. They formulate an effective project communication system. It is the business analyst’s job to gather accurate data and analyze information on clientele, staff and users, in relation to the technology used. Business analysts are needed in all industries, whether banking, telecommunication, software or pharmaceutical. They are employed in consultancies to offer business related solutions to client firms.

Project Phases for Business Analysts

This article is focused on enabling better performance in business analysts and aspiring business analyst professionals. In this regard, I thought knowing the basics of project phases may be a useful read. Basically I’m hoping to touch upon the various aspects of a technology project that achieves a specific business outcome in which business analysts play a vital role.

Why choose technology projects for business analyst discussion?

Our world today is governed by technology. From the time we wake up in the morning to the time we hit the sack in the night we are in a way ruled by technology. A business analyst role in a way is better appreciated when there is technology involved. As mentioned earlier in my posts, anyplace in this world, that combines people, process and technology would result in a problem.

If there is a business analyst, who is working exclusively on process without any impact to technology or without any aspect of technology involved, I would like to meet him or her. So coming to our topic – let us try to understand from a business analyst and consulting stand point in a simple way the different phases of a functional business project that involves technology.

Note – Please note that I’m refraining from getting into Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) or Agile. I would like to keep the context of this post brief and not specific to a particular project management style though what I do state would align to most methodologies.

Is a business analyst actively involved in the project sub phases?
Business project that involves technology are often split into 2 large phases in the consulting world. The first phase is called Scoping and the second phase is called Delivery. Both these phases contain multiple sub phases in which a business analyst plays a vital role. We will look at them in detail.

The sub phases of a the Scoping phase of a consulting project are usually split into Scope Definition, Analysis and Functional Design.

The sub phases of a Delivery effort in a consulting assignment includes Technical Design, Construction / Build, Test phase that includes System Integration Testing (SIT) and User Acceptance Testing.

Scope definition – From my experience, I have noted than often the scope definition of the project is prior to a business analyst being assigned to the project. In some cases, the business analyst might get lucky and stand to be included in the scope definition of the project. But usually in this phase a project / functional manager, the program manager and subject matter experts play a major role. In some cases, this phase is also called blue printing.

In certain instances the scope phase include the requirements gathering process while in some cases, it gets pushed into the analysis phase of the project.

Analysis phase – Again while the term Analysis strictly refers to analyzing the business requirements gathered, more often the requirements gathering process start in this phase. The analysis phase of the project actively involves the business analyst interfacing with the stakeholder and gathering the business requirements and analyzing the requirements to better understand which requirements fit into the scope area defined and which doesn’t.

It is a big challenge that in some instances business requirements often exceed the given project scope and may need to be identified by the business analyst and De-scoped. To the contrary in some cases, there is scope creeps and a lot of the business requirements are missed being documented. The analysis phase is definitely an area where a business analyst plays a critical role.

Functional Design – In the consulting world, the design phase is split into functional design and technical design. The function design is the phase where design elements with respect to data flows, requirements mapping to data flows, requirement functions that can be met through the design etc will be documented.

Technical Design – Technical design as the name suggests is the design document that provides the technology that defines the systems that will specifically be used to meet the functional business requirements documented by the business analyst. While the functional design document details the functions that would be met as a part of the design implementation, the technical design sticks on to the technology used, type of server to be used (Windows vs Linux), the type of database to used etc.

A lot of times in organizations these two documents are combined together to house a single design document. The usefulness of the comprehensive design document is completely contingent on the methodology followed by the organization. In some cases, where the business analyst is more functional some parts of the comprehensive design document becomes a challenge to understand.

A business analyst in the design phase plays the role of a solution expert. The business analyst is required to validate that the design document and the solution proposed meets the project objectives and the specific business requirements that have been captured.

Build / Construction – While in a strict sense a functional business analyst role would be restricted to requirements planning, requirements gathering and documentation until hand off to the IT teams, organizations today take a holistic view of the business analyst function. A business analyst might not play a very active role in the construction phase of the project. That certainly does not mean that a business analyst moves on to another project at this stage or has a relaxing time. While the IT team works on the construction phase of the project, a business analyst may be required to work on supporting the Testing preparation along with the project manager.

Apart from potentially supporting change management deliverables, a business analyst may be required to help drive reviewing the test strategy, test plans, test scenarios, cases and scripts.

The CBAP handbook specifically calls out that creating design documents, test strategy, test plans or executing test cases is not considered as relevant work experience for CBAP certification. I’m sure most of us would agree that irrespective of our likes and dislikes and what the handbook says, for all practical reasons, a business analyst usually ends up taking on these deliverables.

In my opinion getting our hands dirty on these deliverables is very good as you would no longer be restricting yourself to the role of a business analyst but scaling up to be a management consultant.

Test Phase – I hate to break it to you, but testing is further split into sub components.

A business analyst would know that the systems integration test is more often the key to solving most of the issues and problems in a technology project. While in the build phase, the IT team would ensure that they perform selected core testing on what they built, it more often becomes the role of a business analyst to support integration testing. The systems integration testing involves passing data through source and down stream systems to often test the interface / data flow between the systems through predefined test cases/ scenario having a specific test result.

The User Acceptance Test (UAT) succeeds the systems integration test. In this phase, the testing is performed from an end-user / customer perspective. It is expected that the testing from systems integration throws up a little of problems and bugs that will need to be solved prior to entering UAT. During UAT, the end-user or customer is given the flexibility to help choose the business scenarios they would like tested. The expected results (which should match to the expectation of the user) is often shared with the user to enable boost their confidence and sign off on the testing phase.

Testing is always done in a server environment outside of the real-time production environment. So, if you are in a meeting and hear people discussing about testing environments, don’t be baffled. It is merely a server environment that often replicates the production environment but allows you to make mistakes and correct them.

Implementation / Go Live – The implementation phase of the project is when the codes and solution tried and tested through the other phases of the project are moved into the production environment. Once the codes are moved into production and the systems are ready to Go Live, with the flip of a switch the changes are posted into production and are live to be reflected.

As you would have noted, the role of a business analyst is more than often exemplified in the initial stages of the project. During the initial stages of the project, there is a greater need for the business analyst to interact with the stake holders, gather requirements, document them, analyze requirements etc. Thus a BA becomes the bridge between the business stakeholders and the IT teams making the role extremely important. At the same time, it is also important for a BA’s to understand the impact of their role and their work on other areas of the project.

For all aspiring BA’s, I do hope this article though lengthy, provided you good insight into what happens beyond your role. Hope you liked it. Please do feel free to share your comments.

The Importance of Business Analyst Tools and Benefits of Hiring an IT Business Analyst

Do you want to know the importance of Business Analyst Tools? When it comes to workflow management, you need to use all the tools and processes that streamline and optimize the operations of your business. For instance, you need to utilize software systems that enable you to get improved productivity. These systems include content management systems, document management systems and business process management (BPM) tools.

Remember the best workflow management systems can be costly and challenging to implement. However, by seeking the services of an IT Business Analyst, your company will benefit from them, which means you will get the best returns on your investments. In this informative article, we’ll look at five benefits of these tools.

1. Improved Accountability

The best Business Analyst Tools enable your company to experience improved productivity. Keep in mind many employees don’t respond well to micromanagement, which means you need to use the latest tools to check their productivity. By using the best tools and software, you can know which tasks need to be done, the best team member to carry them out and the specific period the work should be completed.

When you know which tasks and goals need to be met, you won’t need to intervene now and then, that’s unless it’s necessary. That improves the relations between the staff and management by removing personal opinions and considerations from any issue. Databases can store records of what occurred in the system, which gives the administration the ability to audit behavior if necessary.

2. Reduces the Need for Manual Labor

The best business analyst tools provide your team members with the chance to work on non-repetitive tasks. It means they can expand their skills, for example, by working on aspects that require more human input such as in the production process. The best work management tools ensure that work is done faster and without common human errors. Instead of using these tools to replace employees, you should use them to make the workplace more productive and exciting, which improves the firm’s overall morale.

3. Better Communication

The best business analyst tools eliminate the need for paper chasing and use of telephones. That makes the office more efficient and greener, which in turn reduces the firm’s turnover rates. Among the reasons for quitting jobs is poor or inadequate communication in offices. By using tracking software, you can provide employees with a better way of finding out what needs to be done right now and in the future. For you to ensure smooth day to day running of the business, you need to make sure your communication is honest and clear to employees.

4. Streamlines the Business Operation Processes

Workflow or business analyst tools enable you to have valuable insight in the day to day running of your business. For example, by using automation software, you can determine which tasks can be done simultaneously instead of being completed sequentially. You can know which steps are unnecessary; which means you will make informed choices and decisions. For example, you will know which employees perform specific tasks at their best, rather than who happens to be free at that particular time.

5. Faster Completion of Projects

The best business analyst tools enable you to shorten the duration of projects. For example, you can use them to reduce the period between starting a project and having it approved. As the management, you can set these tools to notify team members when the deadline is approaching or if they have missed it. The team leaders can let employees know of any new projects, changes in scheduling and guideline updates. Remember that in the long run, the time taken to determine these issues can prove to be a lot, meaning you need to use the latest tools to move on to new profitable projects.

What to Do

When switching over to using the best Business Analyst Tools, you may encounter several challenges. That means you should evaluate your office or business needs before deciding to make the switch. If you regularly meet your goals or surpass them, you may choose to leave it as it is. However, if you think you need a general overhaul of your operating systems and routines, you should consider moving your company to the next level.

Before implementing drastic changes, you should open up and consult with your team members about the impending changes. You should then consider hiring an expert IT Business Analyst to help in the process. Below we look at benefits of hiring them.

Benefits of Hiring an IT Business Analyst

One common question on online business forums is; what are the benefits of hiring an Information Technology (IT) Business Analyst? For some businesses, business analysts provide them with many benefits. However, others may not know these benefits, which mean they fail to get the many positive results that analysts bring to companies. In today’s business environment, business analysis can be the glue that holds a company or business together.

What’s The Role of a Business Analyst?

Breaks Down Work into Manageable and Small Bits

The primary function of an IT Business Analyst is to help make work more manageable by breaking it into smaller pieces. Developing and testing are also made simpler by business analysts. These professionals ensure all projects are on track by documenting their progress. That means the best returns on your investments.

Enhances Communication

IT Business Analysts ensures the communication lines are kept open, that’s by filling any gaps in the case of breakdowns. They eliminate any confusion in the case of requirements, scope and testing by explaining the processes in a way that team members can understand. It means that the workplace efficiency is improved and tasks completed faster.

Provides Support

In the course of carrying out challenging tasks, the project managers may be overwhelmed by budgets, reports, schedules and other issues. Business analysts can step in and help by providing them with professional support to the team members, project managers and sponsors. The result will be improved returns and faster completion of projects.

Increases the Business Returns

Professional IT Business Analysts know how to increase the company’s potential benefits and returns. For example, they know how to uncover or discover new business needs and ensure that your business priorities are focused on bringing the best value. Remember that they use the best Business Analyst Tools to arrive at their decisions.

What 2018 Holds For IT Business Analysts

As far as the role of Business Analysts is concerned, the year 2018 offers them new predictions. That’s because new Business Analysts Tools provide them with more chances to improve the operating systems of companies.

These professionals will be tasked with many projects that include project and testing management. Many will offer their services on a specialist basis, for example, cost-benefit analysis, scoping and other project requirements.

For those with business analysis backgrounds, they will continue their migration towards critical and influential positions in different areas of the organization. The result may be a change in their titles, which may result in disagreement or confusion over their exact job description and responsibilities.

How to Hire the Best IT Business Analyst

• If you’re asking yourself whether you need to hire a Business Analyst or a project manager, you need to consider the value that each of them brings to your organization or project. In some instances, the project manager may have vast expertise.

• On the other hand, the business analyst may have experience and knowledge in examining information and other facts, which means they can provide your company with the right questions and carry out thorough research.

• The primary factors for hiring an IT Business Analyst is that he or she can be able to break down information into several parts, document and workflows.

• You need to ensure the business analyst you’re hiring has the best experience in the IT field which you need. It may seem like an obvious consideration, but you should remember that IT fields are different.

• Other qualities you should consider are their industry knowledge, problem-solving skills and effective documenting. They will ensure you get the best results. Remember that any professional should be self-directed and motivated.

• The business analyst should also have the best working skills and communication abilities. They will ensure that he or she works with your team to solve problems. Remember that it’s only through effective communication with your team members that the professional will able to bring you the best results.

• When hiring them, make sure you have written agreements on how fast you should expect results, the processes involved and how much they will charge you. That will enable you to plan your budget estimates to ensure that no payment disputes occur during the work or after completion of the project. Compare quotes from different professionals before settling on the best one, who should have experience and provide you with competitive rates.

Conclusion

The best IT Business Analyst should be able to use the latest Business Analyst Tools to ensure that your business improves its efficiency and profits. Consider hiring those who use the most recent software and have experience in your particular field.

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