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Important Business Analyst Skills to Growth your Career

November 05 ,2019

Communication, presentation, problem-solving is just a few of the business analyst skills that you need to master. There are some other skills that employers always mention in their business analyst job description

In this article, people at Designveloper will walk you through 8 core skills for a business analyst (BA). Hone these skills to get this job and grow your career in 2020.

1. Communication skills

Due to the nature of the job, business analysts spend much time interacting with managers, developers, clients, and other stakeholders. Hence, they must be excellent communicators, both in face-to-face and virtual settings. This means they can ask good questions, perform active listening, speak in different languages, and absorb what’s being said.

A business analyst should develop the following communication skills:

Make points concise and correct

When you say something, you need to make your points concise and use simple language so that everyone can understand what you’re trying to say. Regarding written communication, stick to proper use of grammar and style, simple words and avoid jargon as much as possible. 

Besides, you should be clear on the objectives of your communication. Before you talk or send out an email, it’s better to ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is your audience? How well do you know them? Are they all tech-savvy or not? 
  • What message do you want stakeholders to take away?
  • Is there any specific action you want stakeholders to take after reading your message? 

Don’t expect stakeholders to guest your intention. If you do that, your message can get lost in the process of translation. 

Understand different learning styles

As said earlier, business analysts work with many people. Each of those people may have different learning styles. Some may gain insights from illustrations, charts, diagrams, videos, pictures, and the like. Some may learn by hearing. Others may learn by doing. Hence, understanding different learning styles will help you, as a BA, deliver the right message to the right audience. 

Ask good questions

Business analysts need information to analyze and create requirement documents. To get the right information, they need to ask the right questions of themselves and others. 

To have the right questions, you need to ask more questions until you know the question that gives you the correct answer. The more you ask, the better you develop intellectual curiosity. 

When asking questions, you should use plain language, especially if your stakeholders aren’t technical specialists. Also, remember to use voice tone and body language to communicate better. 

Listen actively

“Effective listening allows the business analyst to accurately understand information that is communicated verbally.” (BABOK V3-9.4.4) This skill is undoubtedly the key to being a successful business analyst. 

Effective listening means you listen to your stakeholders actively. You don’t just focus on the conversation and listen to what’s being said, but you also understand the context and the motivation behind the message. In doing that, you’ll even notice what’s not being reported to ask more questions. 

Speak different languages

Business analysis documents can be written in different languages like English and French. Proficiency in those languages will help BAs access insightful knowledge and improve their expertise. 

Furthermore, a BA can work with stakeholders from many countries. So, it’s a must to know an international language, that is, English. As can be seen that being fluent in English appears in business analyst job descriptions most of the time. 

Keep an open mind

In all businesses, there’ll always be opposite views. The best business analysts are always open-minded. They show respect to all stakeholders, acknowledge different perspectives, and know when to move the subject along. They’re able to consider all input without being too ruffled by disagreements. 

2. Critical thinking skills

Business analysts should be critical thinkers, which means they can balance logical, creative, and intuitive thinking to make effective and informed decisions. As a BA, you’re paid to think, so make sure you think well enough. 

business analyst skills

Don’t take what you hear or read at face value. Instead, think over stakeholders’ opinions and consider all the possible implications or consequences before making a recommendation. Will the requirement be necessary for the inclusion of an associated requirement? Will adding that requirement to the first launch affects the project deadline and available resources? Can the inclusion of the requirement be justified? You have to keep all of these in mind. 

In certain situations, a stakeholder may suggest a requirement that’s not necessarily tied to any business value but rather to their increased convenience. Being critical allows you to distinguish between requirements that add real value to the business and those that should be given a lesser priority. 

3. Analytical skills

A business analyst must tackle every problem analytically. You have to understand the problem, visualize it, analyze it, gather more information against it, and then strive to solve it. You can make use of models and case diagrams to analyze issues and requirements. Or, you can work with various analytical techniques like feasibility analysis, interface analysis, and SWOT.

Sometimes, you need to break a larger picture into smaller, more manageable images to make examination and understand context easier. You also need to apply analytical methodologies to detect the issues and identify gap analysis. Confidence in analytical skills will help you overcome the challenge of work and find ideal solutions to problems. 

4. Problem-solving skills

One of the amazing reasons why many business analysts love their work is that they have a great chance to practice problem-solving skills. No business exists without a single problem, so BAs always have jobs to do. 

business analyst skills

Having excellent problem-solving skills, you can make a massive contribution to the growth of the organization and the career of yourself. In a word, you can:

  • Define the problem.
  • Define the scope.
  • Elicit information and resolve the ambiguity.
  • Identify associations and relationships.
  • Root cause analysis.
  • Solution proposal. 

When working towards solutions, you’re more likely to deal with random, unpredictable changes. Hence you should be ready to adapt and resolve problems continuously.

5. Technical skills

It’s not mandatory for business analysts to have coding skills. But you should know what information technology applications are being utilized, what new possible outcomes can be achieved through current products, and what the latest technology offers. 

business analyst skills

Here are some technical skills that you need to have:

  • Computer programming languages (Python, SQL, etc.).
  • Use cases for functional requirements.
  • Wireframes for visual requirements.
  • Data models for data requirements.
  • Test software and design business systems. 
  • MS Office: Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

6. Writing skills

Documentation means you write down and record everything you do when you create and implement a business solution. The ability to write clear, complete and nonconflicting requirement documents can make you different.

Even in agile projects, when there’s no need to create documents, writing skills are useful to define the boundaries of problems. BAs with excellent ability to write requirements documents are better equipped to avoid over-specifying or under-specifying a solution. Those mistakes can lead to unnecessary constraints for the delivery team or missing important requirements.

You should also be able to explain every single step of your process to a variety of people. Well-organized documents will help non-technical employees easily understand technical concepts. Everyone needs to understand your plan.

7. Time management skills

Time management skills are one of the most essential business analyst skills that you must possess. As a BA, you must learn how to manage your time successfully, so that you can deliver projects on time.

Knowing how to manage time effectively also helps you prioritize tasks. Sometimes, you may end up multitasking. But thanks to that, you’ll realize time management and efficiency of time are very significant to your overall success. 

8. Presentation skills

At some point in your career as a business analyst, you’ll probably need to hold a workshop or present a project pitch to stakeholders. In this case, mastery of presentation skills will help you succeed.

business analyst skills

Here are some benefits of having good presentation skills:

  • Deal with one-tone situations and large groups.
  • Allow the clear communication of facts to the audience.
  • Increase retention during the meeting or discussion. 
  • Reduce stress through proper communication. 
  • Give the ability to convince others. 
  • Build confidence and effective communication.

A conclusion about business analyst skills

Competition for business analyst positions can be intense. That’s why if you want to pursue a career in this field, you should take action right now. Get started by practicing all the business analyst skills above to make yourself the best talent that employers are always looking for. Good luck!

Don’t forget that Designveloper is looking for a talented business analyst. Take a look at the job description here and apply now!

Images credit: Dribbble.

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