Business analyst skills include the ability to engage with a set of stakeholders in an organization, understand the program objectives and implement solutions that enable the stakeholders to achieve their goals. The job description of the business analyst might well include the following set of skills.
Critical Business Analyst Skills:
Ability to engage with stakeholders: Business analysts need to engage with the stakeholders during various phases of project execution. In the beginning of the project, during the Requirements Analysis phase, they need to elicit, elaborate, analyze and finalize the business requirements. To accomplish this, they need to be skilled at facilitating workshops/storyboarding sessions and conducting interviews to complete the Requirements Management process. Subsequently, they help define the Business Architecture of the proposed solution and participate in the testing phase of the project to ensure that the solution delivered meets the stakeholder’s requirements. Critical business analyst skills of engagement include:
Facilitation skills: Requirements definition goes through multiple cycles of detailing before requirements are accepted for review and sign off. Business analyst should be able to steer the meetings through pre-defined agendas. If they are unable to do so, they run the risk of being reduced to scribes engaged in documentation. Business analyst’ skills improve on this front with experience over a period of time.
Ability to use structured tools and techniques: Business analyst should be able to explain concepts in a business language to the stakeholders through appropriate modeling tools, avoiding technical representations. They should be skilled in using standard tools to produce the artifacts to ensure consistency of understanding and standardization. For example, using Use Case methodology in Functional Specifications Document is a widely adopted practice.
Conflict resolution and Communication: Business analyst should be able to prioritize requirements and resolve conflicting requirements from different stakeholders through sound reasoning. For example, requirements pertaining to compliance would rank higher in priority compared to all other requirements. Continuous communication with stakeholders aids the conflict resolution process. Good presentation and communication skills help during the walkthrough and sign off process to get the requirements approved.
Resolve Testing Issues: During the Testing phase of the project, business analysts engage in verification and validation of artifacts to ensure adherence to pre-defined Quality Standards. They would be required to participate in defect resolution discussions internally within the project team, besides meetings with the stakeholders to resolve issues.
Business analyst skills required under this category are:
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Sense of ethics
- Being trustworthy and well organized
Business and Domain knowledge
BAs need to specialize in their chosen industry practice. Being aligned to an industry practice helps them develop expertise, bring the knowledge and abilities gained from previous projects to new engagements and leverage best practices. As the business analysts progress in their career, they are required to be specialists in particular industries, for example, Financial Services. Within Financial Services, they may identify niche areas like Enterprise Risk Management and become Subject Matter Experts. A good understanding of the domain improves the quality of analysis and the solution provided.
The job description of a Business Analyst may vary depending on the role actually played by them in an organization. However, the business analyst skills listed above are applicable to all these roles and are critical to their career progress irrespective of the industry and type of project that they work in.