In September 2020, The Balance Careers reported that business analyst (BA) roles are expected to increase by 14% over the coming decade, which is higher than average. Professionals are increasingly flocking to this career option because of its strong outlook, good pay, and the chance to play an important role in an organization’s efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
Who Is a Business Analyst?
As new businesses launch and grow, leaders need to fill the key role of BA in developing and implementing strategies to improve efficiency and, ultimately, boost profits. Choosing to become a BA is a good career decision for good listeners who take the information gathered and use it to devise solutions to business concerns.
What Does It Take to Pursue a Job as a Business Analyst?
Backgrounds for BA professionals are varied, but most frequently earn a bachelor’s degree in a related area, such as accounting, finance, or business administration, and they make sure to strengthen their communication and tech skills. Ambitious students often earn a master’s or another advanced degree to better position themselves and show prospective employers their dedication to their profession.
What Does a Business Analyst Do?
Their primary function is to work within the core structure of an organization to enhance and streamline processes to help the company meet its objectives and goals. Here are some practical functions of a BA:
- Technical skills. BAs must know about data modeling, IT, and stakeholder management.
- Analytical skills. As the name suggests, BAs must analyze volumes of data and business processes to develop ideas, strategize, and solve problems.
- Research skills. BAs need to stay abreast of new processes, trends, and software to enhance processes and boost productivity.
6 Things You Can Do to Get Started as a Business Analyst
If the above-noted skills, traits, and duties of a BA sound like a strong fit for your professional goals, you might wonder how to get started in your new career. At Lewis University, we’ve assembled six things you can do to get a good running start toward a successful career as a business analyst.
1. Get Your Credentials in Order
During college, make sure to take courses in business analytics, and build a working knowledge of data intelligence tools, so you can help your employer make informed, objective, and data-based decisions. Focus on a curriculum that offers:
- Practical data mining, using business intelligence tools and technologies
- Data analysis and quantitative skills needed to solve complex business problems
- Development of corporate strategy by exploring a company’s “big data” and predictive decision modeling methodologies
- Analysis of large data sets to detect hidden connections to make better business decisions
Your master’s program, one that focuses on the right blend of business and information technology disciplines, will put you several paces ahead of the competition for nearly any job.
Add one more layer to your credentials by earning your certification through the Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) certification, which is a world-renowned trade association and the governing body for business analysts and the business analysis industry.
2. Learn About the BA Role and What It Means to Your Prospective Employer
It’s easy enough to answer a job posting for a business analyst role, knowing you have education and experience in the field. However, your employer might have a slightly different idea of the role than what you are thinking. Start the process by finding out as much as possible about the business’s philosophy and try to fit your role as a BA into that.
If you can’t find what you need to feel confident in your interview, you can always reach out to your contact, whether a project manager, hiring manager, or the direct supervisor for your potential job, and ask them to help you understand the position as it fits in their organization. Your contact will likely appreciate your courage to ask questions to help avoid wasting anyone’s time and energy since, if you are operating a faulty assumption about the role, you and your employer might feel dissatisfied with your performance and experience.
3. Get to Know Your Organization’s Processes and Templates
Once you get your dream BA job, you need to get to know all about their core processes and templates to align your business practices to theirs. For instance, you need to know what types of documents and spreadsheets you need to use to keep everyone on the same page. Ask your supervisor, hiring manager, or department peers about the types of documents and strategies used:
- Should you use business flows and use cases or agile user stories and a product backlog?
- What is the basic style and approach to business analysis and how it works for the organization?
No two businesses are exactly alike in their business analysis strategy, so you need to prepare to ask plenty of questions to ensure you can do your best for your employer. Once you get to know how things work, you might ask about going off-course and implementing new strategies if you believe in them.
4. Engage Your Stakeholders
Early in your tenure, you want to learn who your organization’s technology and business stakeholders are and how to engage them since your work together has the power to fuel a project to success or failure. Focus on building relationships, fostering shared ownership, influencing outcomes, gathering data, and facilitating the resolution of problems. Let stakeholders know you care about engaging them to ensure that they show up for vital meetings, answer pressing questions quickly, and review documentation to support the business analysis process to make sure things run smoothly. The stakeholders with whom you need to develop these relationships include project leaders, department managers, human resource leaders, and CEOs and other C-suite members.
5. Start Things Off by Making a Positive Impact
Once you have gotten to the basics in your role as a BA in learning the ropes and getting to know your stakeholders, it is time to show your value and make a positive impact. You might wonder what you might do to make that positive impact when you are still getting settled, or you might have started during the middle of a large, ongoing project.
The best thing you can do is throw yourself into the mix, ask questions, do research, and figure out where everyone is and find out how you can help. Use your fine-tuned research and analysis skills to get to the heart of the project, exactly where it stands. You stand to impress your executive team and stakeholders, manager, supervisor, and teammates with your ability to use your skills, knowledge, and curiosity to get up to speed and pitch in.
6. Rely on Best Practices
Now that you know your organization’s processes and can weave your BA knowledge and experience into that, you can start introducing business analysis “best practices” to the mix if you see any gaps. For instance, bring in workflow diagrams and structured analysis, collect and document user requirements, and develop functional requirement documents for the organization or project.
Learn More About Becoming a Business Analyst
The demand for intelligent, talented, and ambitious business analysis is strong, so it is time for you to decide if this is the right path for you. If so, you might consider a Lewis College master’s in Business Analytics to give you a healthy boost in this exciting field. Build on your bachelor’s degree to learn the latest in financial, business, healthcare, and operations analytics to make sure you are invaluable to your future employer.