What it means to be a Business Analyst and how to become one

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What it means to be a Business Analyst and how to become one

2018-11-06T14:03:43+00:00 November 6th, 2018|Business, Career Advice|
  • Business analysts help enterprises identify their needs and opportunities.
  • Business analysts help enterprises evaluate themselves and their objectives.
  • Business analysts are there to identify problems before they arise.

So, you’ve realised that you like listening to others and are good at asking key questions that help find solutions to solve their problems.  This has also sparked your interest in becoming a Business Analyst (BA), but you’re unsure what it takes to become one? You might first want to get a clearer understanding about a BA’s roles and what you can do to become one. This article is your guide to understanding what business analysts do, and how you can become one.

It is important to note that there is no one-way path to becoming a business analyst. Here we will provide you with the typical transition path, as well as address some of the most common special circumstances, that tend to be experienced by business analysts.

There are many varying definitions of business analysts. To eliminate confusion, we will look at the most popular definitions, roles and key responsibilities of business analysts in Kenya.

“As a business analyst, you have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them, especially in the beginning.” – Megan Herlily, Business Analyst

What it is a Business Analyst (BA)?

A business analyst (BA) is a person who scrutinizes organisations or business domains (real or hypothetical), and documents their business or processes or systems, evaluating the business model or its integration with technology. BA’s use the results of their evaluations to define enterprise needs and to also make valuable recommendations to stakeholders.  

In other words, BA’s work as intermediaries among stakeholders. In working among stakeholders, they seek to understand the core structures, policies, and operations of enterprises. They use the data collected to identify the businesses needs and make suggestions on the best possible solutions that align with an enterprises goals.

A business analysis allows an enterprise to:  

  • express what its needs are;
  • justify its motive for change;
  • and design and describe solutions that deliver value.

As mentioned earlier, the roles of BA’s are not fixed and may differ. Some BA’s use only business analysis activities while others do business analysis activities and activities from other professions. Though job descriptions and titles might vary, BA’s share the common core role of bridging the gap between business problems and technology solutions.

Key responsibilities of a Business Analyst

The key responsibilities of business analysts vary amongst enterprises. This is mainly due to the fact that enterprises acquire the services of BA’s at various stages of their organisations’ lifespans. Their core responsibilities however remain the same. BA’s are essentially there to help enterprises identify needs and problems and come up with the best possible solutions to those needs and problems. Some of the core responsibilities for BA’s are:

  • Elicitation or Discovery – Identifying the fundamental needs of the business and information related to the product and project requirements. This is usually done by engaging with stakeholders.
  • Examining requirements – Establishing, arranging and displaying the requirements to ensure that they are complete and clear.
  • Specifying Requirements – Recording and detailing the requirements in a format that can be shared with stakeholders.
  • Validating and Verifying Requirements – Making sure that the requirements align to the enterprise’s needs, are accepted by all relevant stakeholders, and meet the enterprises quality standards.

At times, BA’s take on more senior-level activities. These activities vary from planning the business analysis activities to managing requirements. They can also extend to project management, coding or solution testing. All in all, irrespective of title, business analysts help businesses identify where they lack and find ways of improving.

“A skilled Business Analyst draws out the needs that are not yet known”. – The business analysis doctor

How to obtain qualifications?

To pursue a career as a business analyst, you have to obtain a qualification in a business related course, gain a bit of work experience, and earn a certified business analysis professionals (CBAP) certification. The certification program was introduced by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and is a world-wide certification program which qualifies professionals as Business Analysts (BA). It is competency-based and recognises the knowledge, skills and career progress of business analysts.

The main goal of the certification program is to maintain a high-quality standard and meet the ever-increasing demands of the global marketplace in the field of business analysis universally. To help you start your journey on becoming a BA, Educartis has listed over 390 business courses  that you can enrol in. The various institutions offer on-campus classes and online courses.

There is no fixed business course to enrol in, though business administration is a popular choice amongst BA professionals. The main aim is to obtain a business qualification that will better your chances of working as a business professional. Once you’ve gained experience you can earn a (CBAP) certification and practise as a BA.

Career paths you can follow?

The BA analysis field offers a wide range of job opportunities in the industry. The job descriptions vary but their core objectives remain the same. The 5 common types of BA roles are:

  • Business developers – their core roles are to recognise the enterprise’s business needs and opportunities
  • Business model analysis – their core role is to outline the enterprise’s policies and market approaches
  • Process design – their core role is to standardize workflows in the enterprise
  • Systems analysis – their core role is to analyse business rules and requirements for technical systems (generally within IT)
  • BA’s in some enterprise are responsible for maintaining and supporting development of training material, it’s implementation and post-implementation support. Activities may include the development of project plans and dataflow diagrams, flowcharts

At times, due to experience and skill set, one may find themselves performing the duties of a BA. In other cases, you have to actively seek it. As long as businesses exist, BA’s will be needed to help them improve.

Take action – become the BA

Upon getting your business qualification, work experience and certified business analysis professionals (CBAP) certification, you can apply for BA jobs. These 3 things will show employers that you are qualified and skilled enough to help their enterprises grow to new heights.

Like many other professions, your hard work and determinisation will influence your success. Drawing up a plan of action will help you stick to your career plans accordingly. You can revisit this article at any stage of your career to assess whether you are still on track to becoming a business analyst.