Has a business analyst job description got you all... hooked up? Then you must be wondering: “What are the IT business analyst skills and qualifications that recruiters look for in a potential candidate?”
What about the relevant educational background and/or equivalent experience?
You have the questions, I have the answers. Here's a checklist of all the essential skills and competencies for this career path:
1. But First: What Exactly Does a Business Analyst Do?
In other words:
What would be your main responsibilities as a future IT business analyst?
- first, you'd need to identify the business/stakeholder's needs (what the client needs and not what he/she wants); you'd be helping them to clearly articulate their business requirements
- next, you'd collect, analyze and document all project requirements
- you'd evaluate the business capabilities, all the available options, and put together process flows
- you'd then come up with a technology-based solution addressing that problem/need and present it the development team so they can implement it
In short, your role as a BA could get summed up to:
Developing technology-based solutions for business-specific problems.
Expect to be challenged to step into the shoes of a process analyst, an expert facilitator, a technical writer, and a subject matter expert.
2. Technical IT Business Analyst Skills Required
No team is the same and you won't be working on 2 identical projects in terms of requirements, scope, and resources.
Therefore, it goes without saying that:
- you won't need to invest all the below-listed skills and competencies in the same project
- there are also new, project-specific skills that you'll be challenged to develop on the go
2.1. Proficiency in SQL
A good working understanding of SQL is that “all-purpose” skill that you need to develop and to constantly “polish”.
Regardless of the project scope, an in-depth understanding of database concepts and a working experience with specific technologies (e.g. OOPS) are just... fundamental.
2.2. Visual Modeling Tools
You'll be expected to deliver an accurate visual representation of your analysis. Of all your collected requirements and of the suggested solution.
So, whether you'll shape your analysis as a wireframe prototype or as a work-flow diagram, make sure you have at least a few visual modeling tools in your toolbox.
In this respect, here are just 3 recommendations:
- Start UML
- Enterprise Architect
- Rational Rose
- Microsoft Visio
2.3. Prototyping Tools
Keep in mind to “stuff” some reliable prototyping tools into your toolkit, as well.
They'll be your trustful allies whenever you ask for feedback — either from your development team or the client himself — on the collected requirements or on the newly developed features.
And here I could mention SmartDraw, Pencil, iRise... The choice is yours.
2.4. Requirements Management Tools
The project requirements that you will have painstakingly collected and documented will be your most valuable “possession” as a BA.
So, it's a must that you add an extensive experience in working with requirements management tools to your list of IT business analyst skills.
Go with DOORS, OSRML (Open Source Requirements Management Tool), Caliber, Rational Requisite Pro... or any other tool that you're comfortable working with.
2.5. Familiarity with Scripting Languages
In this respect, demonstrable experience in working with Python will be what most recruiters will value most.
2.6. Hands-on Experience in Working with Large Data Sets
For you will be “joggling” with huge volumes of data.
Therefore, you'll stand out from the crowd of candidates if you're already familiar with distributed computing tools such as Redshift or Hive...
As for the educational background, a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Economics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Statistics or any other quantitative field will help you stand out from the crowd.
3. It's a Role Heavy on Soft Skills
As a wannabe BA, make sure you “stock up” on soft skills. It's these IT business analyst skills that will set you up as a leading candidate.
And not just any soft skills, but the vital ones for this role:
3.1. Communication Skills
One of the multiple roles that you'll be playing is that of a communicator:
You'll be expected to:
Communicate complex information data and concepts in a clear, concise and easily comprehensible way.
Most of the time, in a visually appealing way, as well.
And this particular skill set's divided into a whole variety sub-skills:
- speaking all teams' languages; you might need to translate “accounting talk” into “technical” language for the development team to understand and quickly act upon
- actively listening, during work meetings, and asking key, open-ended questions; that type of questions that help the client get an accurate understanding of what their business needs really are
- … and to clearly articulate their specific requirements
- being a good communicator in a virtual setting, too (e.g. web meetings, conference calls)
3.2. Critical Thinking Skills
And these are the skills that enable you to:
- actively listen to what the stakeholders' are sharing with your during meetings
- ask targeted questions
- identify their needs and set them apart from their... wishes (want vs need)
Back up these IT business analyst skills with some above-the-average evaluation skills and you'll take a high leap from newbie to professional BA.
3.3. Problem-Solving Skills
And the role you'll need to play most frequently as a business analyst is that of a problem solver.
For that's what you are.
So, make sure you brush up your process-oriented skills and your analytical skills to always:
- turn all that data at hand into gold, into actionable business insights
- come up with the most efficient solution; the most sustainable one from the point of view of the invested resources, without compromising quality
And to this list of soft skills that you'll find in most IT business analyst job descriptions, feel free to add: great presentation skills.
You'll need to present the project requirements to your team. And the solution and gradually implemented new features to the client himself.
4. 4 Online Resources to Build Your Skills as a Professional Business Analyst
“What are the online resources that I can tap into if I want to learn to become an IT business analyst?”
Glad you asked, for I've already put together a selection of valuable information sources for any wannabe BA:
Needless to add that this role is also heavy on on-the-job skills.
So, consider building all these essential IT business analyst skills, then, once you get your dream job, keep the same “appetite” for developing new ones.
Sure hope this list will help you boost your confidence once you decide to venture on this new career path. Would you have included other critical skills and qualifications, as well?
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