What is a BA?
We are often asked ‘What is a BA?’
“Business Analysis is the task of understanding business change needs, assessing the business impact of those changes, capturing, analysing and documenting requirements and supporting the communication and delivery of requirements with relevant stakeholders.”
If you had a plot of land and wanted to build a house, we hope that you would first engage the services of an architect. The architect would ask you questions – what is your budget, what style of house, how many bedrooms, how much parking or garage space you need, etc. The architect would then draw up plans which they would agree with you before approaching builders to understand the cost of building the house. Once the build was underway the architect would monitor the build to make sure the house was built according to your needs. Occasionally problems might arise requiring the plans to be revised, or, you might want to make some modifications to the plans which would need to be agreed with the builder.
Being a business analyst is a bit like being an architect but instead of building a house, we are usually developing or updating a computer or IT system. A business analyst takes responsibility for talking to the business users of the system to understand their needs. Instead of producing plans, the business analyst produces ‘requirements’ which clearly state the business needs and align with business processes. The requirements are then used by the IT team or an external supplier to build or modify the system. While the system is being built the business analyst is on hand to deal with issues and questions, and to support the business in implementing the required changes to make effective use of the new system.
Business analysis isn’t always about IT though. Business analysts will often be involved in business change projects involving the development of new products, services or processes. A business analyst may take responsibility for identifying change opportunities, identifying the impact on stakeholders in other parts of the business, building a business case and working with project managers to make the change happen in an effective and controlled manner. Process modelling is often a large part of a business analyst’s work and is therefore incorporated into many of our training courses and programmes.
What does it take to be a business analyst?
The business analyst role is often seen as a communication bridge between IT and the business stakeholders. Business analysts must be great verbal and written communicators, tactful diplomats, problem solvers, thinkers and analysers – with the ability to engage with stakeholders to understand and respond to their needs in rapidly changing business environments. This can often involve dealing with very senior stakeholders and can often involve challenging and questioning to ensure that value for money is achieved from IT developments.
A business analyst does not need to have an IT background although it can help to have some basic understanding of how IT systems work. Some business analysts come from a technical or programming background but they will often come from within the business itself – having a detailed knowledge of the business domain can be equally useful (if not more so!)
Learn more about the role of the business analyst and their responsibilities by attending the BCS Foundation Certificate in Business training course. You can also gain a formal business analysis qualification.
Find out more about the BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis qualification.