What Are the Key Skills of a Business Analyst?

You must be wondering what skills are the most important for a business analyst to have, right? A layman would likely assume, from the terms “business” and “analyst,” that a business analyst only needs to be good at business management and mathematics.

What are the key skills of a business analyst? A business analyst is a professional who is experienced in business processes and management and possesses critical thinking, leadership, and strong communication skills to be able to develop reliable solution models that will help a business enterprise to achieve its business goals.

Would you like to make a huge career out of business analysis, and so you want to know if you can quickly acquire the key skills of a business analyst? Here is a detailed guide that will show you all that you need to learn about the skills a business analyst must possess.

Listed below are the top 16 skills that most professional business analysts have:

What Are the Top 16 Skills of a Business Analyst?

These top 17 skills are essential skills that a business analyst must possess, and most BA job listings always feature some or all the skills as requirements for being employed for the role.

1. Good Verbal Communication Skills

The inability of a business analyst to communicate in clear terms puts the development team in misery since the business analyst must know the requirements of a business, and relay it to the development team clearly and concisely.

2. Ability to Ask the Right Questions

Listening goes beyond having the necessary details of what you are told to do in your head; it is key to understand what you must do as a business analyst, and a business analyst needs to be able to understand business problems so that they can create long-term solutions.

Having the right questions to ask as a business analyst is imperative, so you can get the needed information from stakeholders in plain terms without the acronym or parlance that is used amongst fellow business analysts or team members. 

And that’s even more important because there’s a 99% chance that the stakeholder does not understand the problems himself – not to talk of creating a reliable solution.

3. Attentive and Constructive Listening

A good listener will make a successful business analyst, and the reason I made that conclusion is that people who want to perform efficiently must listen intently to instructions given to them.

When you listen to instructions attentively, you are likely to think along the lines of your instructor, and you’ll be able to understand their business needs and goals easily. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to listening, but it’s your job to develop the skill.

4. Time Management

Every business analyst must be able to manage time effectively so that they won’t be overrun by other companies that are making the most of their time to grow their businesses. That “time is life, or that “time waits for no one” is a bitter truth that we must all agree with.

A business analyst, therefore, must realize that time is counting against their businesses. So they must learn to prioritize tasks, delegate tasks quickly, and discard whatever task will have little or no value on the business short-term and long-term.

5. The Ability to Hold Stakeholder Meetings

This era of digitalization is characterized by scheduled online meetings, voice or video conferences, and so on. But you may never know the worth of having to meet, physically, until you set up one.

Details are clearer when people meet physically than when they connect over the internet, even though it’s also an effective way to meet. So, a good business analyst must be able to push for physical meetings so that they can get a clearer picture of the business needs and goals.

6. Documentation and Writing

A good business analyst should have excellent business writing skills, including the writing of reports, proposals, grants, business plans, analysis, and several other documents required in business.

7. Stakeholder Management

To succeed as a business analyst, you must know your roles very well, and then you must understand the people you work for. Knowing the kind of people you work with will help you to manage them better.

8. Problem Solving

Every project is a problem to be solved, and business analysts have the responsibility to always solve these business problems by providing a realistic solution. The BA has to understand the problem from every angle, analyze the problems, and administer possible solutions.

9. Analytical Skills

This has to do with how well you can analyze problems. Your approach to problems matters a lot as a good business analyst, and it’s a key requirement that companies need from business analysts they want to work with.

10. Decision-Making

One of the key features of any mature person is the ability to make decisions fast, and this skill is even more important for a business analyst. Companies will be at crossroads many times, and if they must stay ahead of their competitors, they must have a business analyst who can make fast decisions that will affect the business positively.

11. Research

Since every project has a problem, a BA must research to understand the problem, find solutions that have been administered to similar problems, and come out with an innovative idea to solve the problem. 

12. Organizational Skills

As a business analyst, there will be people who will look up to you for directions; how you relate with them affects the project also. So, you must learn to create an organized environment for people to do productive work comfortably.

13. Technical Skills

Although a business analyst is different from and IT personnel, the role of a business analyst requires a basic understanding of technical skills, software development, and technological trends.

14. Critical Thinking

Finding the ideal solution to a problem is a rigorous process that requires a present mind, functioning brain, and critical thinking and a business analyst must possess this soft skill.

15. Modeling

In the case where a large quantity of information is involved, modeling techniques, such as visuals, play a vital role in relaying them without depending on text.

16. Sales and Marketing

Though most businesses have a sales and marketing team, it is a plus if a business analyst knows how to sell and market the company. And this is because they will have to meet with potential business partners and investors on behalf of the company.

What Does a Business Analyst do?

Don’t be surprised that I included this part in my guide. Many people who want to be business analysts do not have a perfect picture of what a business analyst does. But since you already know who a business analyst is and their essential skills, it will be easier to explain what a business analyst does.

Here are some of the major things that make up what business analysts do:

  1. Business Analysts provide solutions for stakeholders by working with them to define the problem or needs of their business.
  2. Business Analysts give guidance and advice on the requirements and solutions that will match the needs of the company on a long-term basis.
  3. Business Analysts analyze projects jointly with stakeholders to extract vital information that will assist in the development of the project.
  4. Business Analysts relate with the business decision-makers, development team, IT team, and testing team to ensure an excellent and sustainable solution is developed.
  5. Business Analysts help businesses to manage or reduce cost by implementing cost-effective technological solutions; moreover, they stay abreast of tech trends and update businesses they manage with these new tech discoveries.

Is Business Analysis an IT Job?

A business analyst is a bridge between IT and the business world. Though a business analyst is not an IT-personnel, they work together to achieve a major purpose – providing solutions to the problems affecting a business.

How to Improve Your Business Analyst Skills?

Are you already working as a business analyst but don’t want to be sidelined in this ever-moving business world? Here are simple hacks to develop yourself as a business analyst:

1.                  Work on your mind and be strong (this is probably the most crucial thing to develop if you want to be a better business analyst); fight the fear of being seen as “not smart.”

2.                  Take more professional courses, such as those offered by IIBA.

3.                  Attend business analysis boot camps that can help you develop your skills as a business analyst.

4.                  Connect with other business analysts and discuss what is going on in the world concerning the business analysis profession.

5.                  Read books about business management, listen to audiobooks and tapes from professional business analysts, and commit yourself to learn one new thing about business analysis each day.

Conclusion

Becoming an excellent business analyst is not a day’s job. It takes several years of hard work, practice, continuous learning, and right questioning. Acquiring the skills of a business analyst might seem like a herculean task, but remind yourself of what every successful person says, “starting is the most important thing in any endeavor.”