The Business Analyst Job Description

My business analysis career has consisted in large part of short contract roles. That’s because I love the variety and experience that contracting brings me.

But this also means that I’ve sat a lot of job interviews. And I’ve had to think long and hard about the job description of a business analyst.

This experience has given me a solid understanding of what makes a successful business analyst and some of the core skills and abilities that a BA should possess.

In this post I’m going to tell you exactly what those attributes are.

But to begin with, I’m going to explain the role of the business analyst.

The Role of the Business Analyst

With the support of experienced people, an organisation’s capacity to adapt and manage continual change through innovation is vital to business success and profits. Organisations need to achieve goals through projects that translate customer requirements into new strategies, processes and services, and products.
And that’s where the role of the business analyst comes in. BA’s make it all happen more efficiently.

The business analyst’s main job description is assisting businesses to implement change in a cost-effective way. They do this by determining the needs of a project or program and through rigorous consultation with company directors, project managers, managers, business owners, subject matter experts and anybody impacted by the changes.

The role of the business analyst is often thought to be one of just implementing technology solutions. However, their job description is not confined to implementing systems. There are many business analysts who help the business improve the operational procedures, business processes, and financial structure.

They are also involved in implementing strategies. For instance, business analysts may be involved in developing roadmaps for the better acquisition, management and reporting of information to support decision-making.

Or they may develop organisational blueprints that describe an organisation’s services, processes, applications and infrastructure. This blueprint would in turn be used to analyse the impact of proposed changes.

Does this sound good to you? You might want to check out this excellent resource on how to become a business analyst.

Typical Functions of a Business Analyst

As indicated above, the business analyst can perform many functions. Here are some of the tasks a business analyst may perform as part of their job description.

  • Business case development. The business analyst may be required to assist in preparing proposals where options are assessed and a recommendation for change is put forward for approval by a board or committee.
  • Requirements planning and management. A business analyst is often required to scope and plan the activities and deliverables that a business analyst will produce during a project and the methodologies and techniques they will use.
  • Requirements elicitation. The common methods for eliciting requirements is through workshops, formal meetings and informal conversations, review of existing documentation and systems, and through business process mapping.
  • Requirements analysis and documentation. Business analysts use specific techniques and questions to bring out the required information and ensure that requirements are clear, complete, consistent and unambiguous. Requirements are documented in formats that communicate clearly to the various stakeholders.
  • Capture existing business processes and proposed changes. A core skill of a business analyst is business process mapping. Although this skill is not always required of a BA, it is often the method used to capture detailed requirements for proposed changes.
  • Stakeholder communication. Stakeholder communication is the core of business analysis. A successful project hinges on the effectiveness of the business analyst’s communication with the various people involved in the project. A business analyst must have a good understanding of the types of engagement activities (e.g., workshops and interviews) and how they should be utilised.

What Does A Successful BA Look Like?

Here are some of the core qualities of a successful business analyst.

  • Has excellent written and verbal communication. This includes the ability to communicate with a wide variety of people across an organisation.
  • Possesses the ability to solve problems, assess solutions, and present clear and relevant concepts to the business.
  • Communicates in a business natural way to elicit requirements that make technology sense. This includes the ability to relate to stakeholders on their terms (and not in IT specific language) by engaging in discussion that relates to their daily business and the issues affecting them to solve their problems.
  • Analyses information from different sources (e.g., workshops, interviews, existing documentation and existing systems) and models requirements in formats that communicate well with the audience.
  • Listens and responds to feedback. The business analyst must listen and accept feedback. If the feedback can’t be adopted then any concerns must be raised in an open discussion. Often issues can be clarified this way.
  • Manages expectations. Business analysts should be as impeccable with their word as possible. If a deadline can’t be met or a requirement must change, then a renegotiation must be made before the expectation is missed. This way the BA is remembered for good quality work, and not unmet expectations or late delivery of work.
  • Is confident in asking questions. The business analyst should do their best to not make assumptions about statements made and ask questions to clarify concepts. This way the BA stays on course with the required work, not waste valuable time with stakeholders, and captures exactly what is meant for specific requirements. Asking questions, especially the “why” question, is very important.
  • Is resourceful and adaptable. Every business has a different way of doing things and different definitions for similar concepts. Therefore, business analyst must learn the “language” and adapt to the organisation’s culture and methodologies and not enforce my own methodologies or way of thinking.

The above attributes are not essential for a successful business analyst, but they also build credibility in the minds of the stakeholders that the business analyst is working with.
Does this sound like your sort of thing? Learn more about how to become a business analyst here.

Example Business Analyst Job Description

All business analysts have different skills and abilities. Here are some common requirements that can be found in a business analyst job description.

  • Experience with developing true business cases that includes tangible (financial) and intangible benefits and costs to the organisation.
  • Effectively and confidently present recommendations for change to decision makers including senior management and executive board.
  • Communicate the strategic benefits of change to decision makers.
  • Apply various methodologies to identify options, and assess and validate a recommended solution.
  • Identify “value add” opportunities and “look across” the organisation to understand where other areas may benefit or be impacted by a new initiative.
  • Elicit requirements using interviews, document analysis, requirements workshops, surveys, site visits, business process descriptions, use cases, scenarios, and business analysis, task and workflow analysis.
  • Proactively communicate and collaborate with external and internal customers to analyse information needs and functional requirements to produce deliverables as required, i.e., functional requirements, business requirements document, use cases, GUI, screen, business cases and interface designs.
  • Communicate with technical stakeholders and “translate up” technical requirements for decision makers.
  • “Translate down” business requirements into technical or functional specifications related to a proposed solution.
  • Use enterprise-wide requirements definition and management systems and methodologies required.
  • Possess excellent verbal and written communication skills and the ability to interact professionally with a diverse group e.g. management and subject matter experts.
  • Possess strong attention to detail and analytical skills including a thorough understanding of how to interpret customer business needs and translate them into application and operational requirements.
  • Use best practice questioning techniques for interviews and workshops to elicit “as is” and “to be” business processes and business requirements.
  • Use best practice requirements analysis, prioritisation and modelling techniques.
  • Liaise between the business units, technology teams and support teams.
  • Work with project management to manage requirements, impacts on scope due to changes in requirements, and identify and mitigate risks.
  • Contribute at a detailed level to project management plans.
  • Assist the business to transition to new processes and technology through change management planning and implementation.

Start Your Business Analyst Career

How to Start Your Business Analyst CareerIs a business analyst career is right for you? If so, check out this guidebook How to Start Your Business Analyst Career. It will help you find an entry way into a business analyst career. It will explain in detail the business analyst job description. It will help you discover and build transferable business analysis skills and develop an actionable work plan to help you achieve your goals. Learn more about How to Start Your Business Analyst Career here.

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