Business analysts bridge the gap between business strategy and business operations. They are instrumental in identifying opportunities, streamlining processes, and improving efficiency. A business analyst is someone who analyzes businesses to understand their potential for growth or problem areas. The role of a business analyst can be challenging as it requires you to take on different hats simultaneously. You will need to simultaneously act as a consultant, analyst, strategist, and facilitator to implement your ideas effectively.
In this article, let’s take a closer look at a business analyst’s different roles and responsibilities.
What does being a Business Analyst entail?
In simplest terms, business analysts collect and analyze data for use by business leaders. This aims to help managers make better decisions and produce more effective plans. Business analysts work with all company parts, from sales to marketing and finance to HR.
They also work with other departments, such as IT and accounting. Analysts usually work in an office setting during regular business hours. Business analysts are often called upon to forecast financial trends. They also put together reports about how businesses perform and make recommendations for improvement. In addition, they might design or help to create software programs used in the business. Business analysts also look at past issues in the business and the company’s competitors.
They try to identify weaknesses and strengths in these areas so the company can improve its performance. A business analyst might be responsible for a particular area of focus or have a general management role, supervising others producing the reports.
Why are Business Analysts important for a business?
Business leaders at all levels are expected to deliver with limited resources, limited time, and in highly competitive markets. This is a Herculean task, which means that decision-making needs to be accurate and actionable. The role of a business analyst is to make sure that the decision-making process is streamlined and that proper information is provided to facilitate decision-making.
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Business analysts serve as the communication bridge between different departments and stakeholders in the organization by providing clear and accurate information through appropriate channels and formats. The business analyst is responsible for gathering requirements and documenting them for the team and the stakeholders to understand. In addition, the analyst is responsible for recommending solutions to issues and problems causing bottlenecks in the organization.
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Key tasks of a Business Analyst
Now that we’ve understood the importance business analysts hold for an organization, you must be thinking of what exact roles and tasks business analysts do. Well, the answer to that question is a bit more complex than it might seem on the surface – simply because of the sheer multidisciplinarity of being a business analyst. Their tasks cover the entire spectrum of business operations and broadly include the following:
Analyzing Data- Business analysts collect and analyze data to understand potential problems and growth opportunities. They may look at numbers or read reports to discover issues and trends within the business. Afterward, they may use that information to create recommendations for handling those problems or taking advantage of those opportunities.
Gathering Information- Business analysts talk to different stakeholders to understand their needs and issues. They then synthesize this information to develop recommendations for addressing these issues or improving the situation.
Communicating Ideas- After creating a plan of action, business analysts write reports and communicate their ideas to stakeholders. They also help stakeholders to understand the plan and how it will affect them.
Making Recommendations- Business analysts make recommendations about how to address issues. For example, if there is a budget issue, they may suggest changing the way the company does business or hiring more personnel. They may recommend creating more efficient meeting environments if there are communication issues.
Key skills of a successful Business Analyst
To carry out such a wide array of tasks successfully, business analysts need to be diverse in their skillset. They need to be able to wear and manage multiple hats simultaneously to get the best out of their work. For that, some of the key skills that are much needed for any aspiring business analyst include:
Analytical Thinking- The ability to look at situations from different perspectives and draw conclusions based on data is crucial for business analysts. Having this skill will allow them to understand the issues thoroughly and come up with the best solutions.
Critical Thinking- This skill is closely related to analytical thinking. It is the ability to identify shortcomings and come up with improvements. Having this skill will allow business analysts to create effective plans that are aligned with the company’s goals.
Communication- The ability to communicate effectively is crucial for any job. However, it is particularly important for business analysts because they often communicate findings to a variety of stakeholders in the organization. Having the communication skills to effectively communicate findings and recommendations to a wide range of people will create buy-in for the plans created by the business analyst.
Time Management- This skill is important for every job. However, it is crucial for business analysts because they need to juggle a lot of different tasks. From conducting research to communicating findings, business analysts need to stay on top of their tasks to meet deadlines.
How to become a Business Analyst?
Business analysts require a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field, such as management or marketing, combined with business analyst certification. Employers also prefer candidates with at least one year of experience in business analysis. Entry-level business analyst positions generally require candidates to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business management or a relevant field, such as marketing or computer science. Employers may also prefer candidates who have completed coursework in business analysis.
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The job of a business analyst is truly rewarding and satisfactory. You get to work with intelligent people from all over the organization, making your day-to-day tasks more exciting and allowing you to learn and grow even more. Further, the direct impact that you will be having on your organization as a business analyst is a reward of its own. Needless to say, many professionals from across different domains are moving to business analysis as a viable career option. At upGrad, we have mentored and guided many such students and professionals from around the globe and helped them reach their destinations.
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What are the main roles of a business analyst?
The key roles of a business analyst include creating detailed business analyses by outlining problems, opportunities, and possible solutions. This also involves planning and monitoring and variance analysis.
Which tools are used by business analysts?
Since business analysts do many tasks, they also use various tools for different tasks. Some of the more used tools include - Balsamiq, SWOT, Trello, Wrike, and more.
Does becoming a business analyst require a specific background?
Not necessarily, but a background in business or analytics (computer science, IT, and so on) will be a good idea for a career in business analytics.