Starting a new job and career the right way with the right skills is essential to anyone as it ensures career longevity and sustainability. If you’re entering into your new role as a Business Analyst, you’re probably wondering about the essential skills and experience you’d need.
Today, we will look into the most important skills that a BA would require as they chart out their careers in business analysis. These skills are core skills, business analysis skills, and soft and hard skills that can be required for any type of BA job.
What skills are crucial for a new BA?
In any organization or company, a Business Analyst role would require the most critical, the MUST-HAVE skills all BAs are expected to have. These skills are often known as core skills or core competencies. In fact, some of these skills are also important in other fields and industries, not just in business analysis.
- Communication skills
The role of a Business Analyst entails speaking with stakeholders, having discussions with the IT and finance teams, brainstorming, and facilitating meetings. Good communication skills are essential for BAs to be able to articulate their thoughts and ideas, facilitate meetings and sessions, ask good questions, as well as listen to solutions and answers given during sessions. Good communication skills aren’t confined to being able to communicate, but also being good at listening and understanding a business owner’s needs.
Remember that communication in today’s world takes place at offline and online avenues. It happens over virtual settings and digital landscapes, via digital communication tools such as web meetings and conference calls. This means you need to be able to communicate with clarity and conciseness. Having a good grasp of writing skills and general documentation is also a good foundation to begin working on projects.
- Problem-solving skills
A Business Analyst works a lot in projects, and no project doesn’t have its share of problems. At a very high-level understanding, BAs work together on a shared understanding of a problem and work with teams to create possible solutions. This also includes determining the opportunity of the project and listing out the priorities the project needs to hit. There will be plenty of technical challenges that a BA will be involved in, and they would need to hone their negotiation skills when dealing with multiple stakeholders in a project.
- Critical thinking skills
A major role that a BA has in an organization or a project is to assess several options before assisting a team to settle or work on a suitable solution. Before this can be done, a BA needs to listen to stakeholders in a project, understanding their issues and points of view, and also critically considering those needs. Asking the right questions will also provide clarity on the real needs of the problem and solution. This is why BAs also requires critical thinking and evaluation skills.
Apart from the skills above, there are also skills that are specific to a BA’s profession. These are:
- Business analysis skills
These skills are specific to a BA’s role. These business analysis skills include knowing the relevant models and templates used to analyze and discover relevant requirements, needs of business stakeholders, as well as reviewing these requirements to validate and ensure that it has been captured clearly and correctly.
Some of the key analysis techniques used are:
Business level workflows, examining the business process, and creating a suitable business process flow diagram.
Software level workflows that include software system support and using functional requirement models such as Graphical User Interface (GUI).
Information level workflows to understand data and information storage and how it can be maintained safely by a company. This includes knowing how to use tools such as ERD diagrams, data maps, system context diagrams, and data dictionaries.
Using a variety of techniques, useful visual, and analytical models to assess and analyze will enable you to see the gaps that exist within a project that must be solved to create a new change or solution.
- Business analysis tools
Basic knowledge of using Microsoft or Google Suite tools, whether you’re a BA or not, is essential. Knowing how to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint is imperative in any line of work to help you use the visual models and present them to your team. Learning how to use the Google Suite of products such as Google Slides, Google Docs, and Google Sheets will be beneficial as well. Other tools are more sophisticated, but will become part of a BA’s career as they continue, such as Enterprise Architect, DOORS, or Caliber.
As a BA, you need to know the tools and software in your industry, and as imperative as it is to have specific knowledge of your BA skills, you’d also need the soft skills to be successful in what you do. These soft skills aren’t essential to the roles you had or will have, but they are deal breakers in dealing with people, maneuvering the career ladder, and basically making life a little easier in the workplace. These soft skills are:
- Relationship-building skills
Everyone likes to work with people who are easy to deal with, easy to talk to, and is friendly and amicable. Forging strong relationships with stakeholders is essential in a BA’s life. These stakeholders are part of making the project you’re working on successful, and as a BA, you’d be working with stakeholders on the business end, as well as the technical end. Part of relationship-building involves building trust, bridging gaps, and stepping in leadership positions.
Being proactive is an admirable trait for anyone working in companies and organizations. Being proactive means putting themselves accountable for their own deadlines and commitments to a project, reporting to the project managers on a timely basis, being responsible and reliable, which can include delegation, influence, as well as issue management.
- Understanding feedback
BAs are going to be involved in plenty of projects, which means receiving feedback from multiple stakeholders who will give their point of view on your proposed solutions and documentations. As a Business Analyst, you need know to differentiate feedback related to work and not take it personally.
We also see Business Analyst skills being critical to success in many different roles, like product management, product ownership, project management, technical leadership, and even upper management roles. There’s a long shelf life on your Business Analyst skills, as you get started, advance in the career, and move up the career ladder.
- Project management skills
While BAs aren’t project managers, being part of projects and dealing with multiple stakeholders is all in a day’s work. This would require that you use your critical and analytical knowledge to articulate what you need to say to your stakeholders. One wrong word or sentenced is all it takes to instantly put people off, and once that happens, it’s often an uphill battle to try and regain favor in their eyes.
Conversations that happen during small talk sessions will leave a lasting impression about you, about the way you’ve carried yourself, and the things which you said. Your mind needs to be working twice as fast to process the information you’re receiving from the other person, and quickly analyze the things you plan to say to make sure it’s appropriate before the words get uttered. Once spoken, they can never be taken back, which is why it’s so vital for anyone who wants to win at small talk to understand this very crucial point.
Certifications required for Business Analysts
The IIBA is the most premier organization that offers certificates related to BA. Other organizations also offer certifications such as the PMI, IQBBA, and IREB. Generally, the certifications a BA would need to boost their resume and career depend on the years of experience or the level they are at in their career. These certifications are:
- IIBA Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
- IIBA Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
- IIBA Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP)
- IIBA Agile Analysis Certification (AAC)
- IQBBA Certified Foundation Level Business Analyst (CFLBA)
- IREB Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering (CPRE)
- PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PBA)
The ECBA & CCBA certifications are useful certificates to obtain if you have a minimum of 2.5 years of experience as a Business Analyst. This certification recognizes a Business Analyst’s ability to take on larger and more complex projects. It’s ideal for professionals who are looking for career advancement after two years in the industry. For instance, the average earnings of a CCBA-certified Business Analyst in 14% higher compared to non-certified BAs.
It’s incredibly beneficial for a BA professional to take on the CCBA certification. If you’re planning to get certified, there are various EEP-approved training providers such as Adaptive US that can provide a candidate with the essential groundwork required to learn, study, understand, and prepare for the exam certification.