A business analyst is a professional who analyzes how an organization operates by conducting research and interpreting data. By using the information gathered from research, a business analyst then develops a program for improving existing practices and processes. The goal of conducting a business process analysis is to improve efficiency, identifying and creating solutions to existing problems, and helping the organization achieve its objectives.
The role of a business analyst is closely tied with the IT industry. Most often than not, a business analyst position is considered a technical position. It is because research and analysis are often performed with the use of computer software or applications to interpret data. A business analyst is also referred to as a business systems analyst, business functional analyst, business process analysts, and enterprise analyst.
Key Roles and Functions of a Business Analyst
A business analyst serves to bridge the gap between an organization’s business objectives and its information technology resources. This position has emerged to be one of the most critical roles in supporting an organization’s success. The information gathered by a business analyst is vital to creating the different strategies a business employ. It helps businesses identify the changing business landscape with solid data that is actionable, helping them make more informed decisions.
- Evaluate the current structure of a business and who it uses technology in its many business processes
- Identify problems and potential areas of concern by utilizing research and data gathering
- Create better business processes based on data gathered from research
- Facilitate meetings between management and stakeholders on the implementation of new business processes
- Oversee the implementation of new business processes and technology
- Develop a program for ongoing reviews of business processes
- Keeping track of the latest developments in information technology and how this could be applied to automate and modernize current processes
- Monitoring and documenting results
- Gather information from stakeholders and management and creating reports
- Provide leadership, coaching and training
- Develop, manage, and monitor project plans
- Prioritizing business processes based on the goals and requirements
Business analysis enables organizations to gather and interpret data to improve the efficiency of business processes. It helps streamline existing processes and introduce changes based on gathered research data.
Goals of Business Analytics
There is no denying the importance of business analytics in today’s data driven world. With information powering many business decisions, the importance of business analytics is critical. Business analytics include quantitative and statistical analysis, data mining, and predictive modeling. The purpose of this process is to analyze past performances and create better strategies for the future. This is essential for today’s modern business who want to keep their competitive advantage and create better products for the market.
1. Make More Informed Decisions
Business analytics helps organizations make sound business decisions. Backed by data and research, it helps organizations increase profitability and performance. Equipped with the right information, business can improve its market base, revenue, and faster return on investment (ROI).
Data analysis makes the decision process more accurate as it incorporates several elements such as customer feedback, competitor research, and general public sentiments towards your brand and product.
2. Better Data Analysis
The business analyst’s role includes breaking down primary and secondary data. These professionals offer a more comprehensive approach to data analysis which can be implemented in every sector in an organization. Business analysis turns information into actionable goals and improve project efficiency.
3. Gain Competitive Advantage
A better understanding of the market and customer needs makes it possible for a business to gain an advantage over its competitors. This can be done by analyzing data gathered through customer and competitor research.
4. Improve Efficiency
Business analytics makes it possible to turn data into valuable information. It helps businesses create a data gathering process that could be used to improve efficiency and power future objectives. Business analysis breaks down product development and delivery, making it possible to analyze every step of the process and identify possible areas of improvement.
5. Identify and Eliminate Risks
Decisions made on solid research and backed by numbers helps identify possible risks and minimizes project failure. It helps businesses make more informed decisions based on current market trends, customer preference, and current performance. Armed with this information, businesses can identify bad business practices and develop a more targeted approach to product development and customer service.
Starting a Career in Business Analysis
A career in business analytics is a great opportunity to enhance your employment opportunities. The need for qualified business analysts continues to grow worldwide with business analyst roles estimated to reach more than 800,000 by 2020. At this rate, the need for business analysts will outpace the current number of available professionals today.
1. Problem Solver
The business analyst role includes analyzing data and using this to create actionable solutions. Business analysis enables you to identify areas of concern and determine possible solutions to current and potential problems. As a business analysis, you should not only be able to collect data but also understand these numbers. A business analyst should be able to craft solutions that are tailor fit to each problem.
2. Excellent Communicator
Communication is one of the most important tools in the workplace. To be an effective business analyst, one must also be able to effectively convey their message. An excellent communicator must have the skills to share information with people regardless of their position in the organization. These professionals must be able to communicate thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely to avoid confusion.
To be able to solve problems, a business analyst must first be able to effectively analyze gathered data. This skill helps them determine what the business needs, its strengths and create solutions based on these findings. Analytics requires many disciplines. These includes the ability to analyze documents, research results, costumer data, and breaking down information.
A business analyst is often associated with the IT department. This is because a large part of data gathering is conducted using software and applications. To be an effective business analyst, one must have enough technical background and training with these tools. Some of these include financial software, online data resourcing, inventory software, and market research applications to name a few. High technical proficiency especially in the use of software enables a business analyst to employ a variety of data gathering and analyses using the latest technology.
The role of a business analyst does not end with gathering and analyzing data, it also involves making informed decisions based on the information gathered. A business analyst is often involved with management level decisions especially in providing a new direction for the company or developing a new product. The key to a business analyst’s role is to make informed decisions based on accurate data.
Business Analyst Certification
Certifications for Business Analysts are still being developed, but there’s a small set of organizations providing certifications to business analysts. The discipline of business analytics is new and has been developed with the introduction of new technology in data gathering and analysis. However, its importance in day to day business operations has been critical in interpreting data and implementing it into successful business models.
Entry Certificate in Business Analysis
The Entry Certificate in Business Analysis is an entry level certification designed by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). It was developed for people seeking to start a career as a business analyst. This certification does not require prior business analyst employment or experience. To qualify for the ECBA, the candidate must complete a total of 21 hours of professional development in the last four years. After training, candidates undergo an ECBA certification exam consisting of 50 multiple choice questions. Successful candidates are then awarded an ECBA certification which is globally recognized and does not need to be renewed.
Certification of Capability in Business Analysis
The Certification of Capability in Business Analysis is a second tier IIBA certification that identifies an individual who has successfully demonstrated expertise and skills in the filed of business analysis. To be certified, a professional must possess a minimum 3,750 hours business analysis work in the past 7 years. Minimum 900 hours 2 of the 6 BABOK knowledge areas or 500 hours in 4 of the 6 BABOK knowledge areas.
To be CCBA certified, a professional should also have 21 hours of development training in the past 4 years. They should also have 2 reference endorsements from a career manager, client, or a CBAP receipt. After satisfying these requirements, a candidate must take an exam consisting of 130 multiple choice questions. However, a CCBA certification must be renewed every 3 years and must have a minimum of 60 Continuing Development Units (CDU).
Certified Business Analysis Professional
The Certified Business Analysis Professional is an IIBA certification that indicates a professional has extensive experience and knowledge in business analysis. To be CBAP certified, an individual must have 35 professional development training in the past 4 years, 7,500 hours of minimum business analyst work experience in the past 10 years and 900 hours of work experience in 4 of the 6 BABOK knowledge areas. They must also have 2 reference endorsements by IIBA approved professionals.
Professionals who meet these requirements can then proceed with CBAP exam which consists of 120 multiple-choice questions. CBAP certificate holders are required to renew their certificates every 3 years and must have a minimum of 60 Continuing Development Units (CDU).
Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader
The Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader is for professionals with approximately a decade of experience in business analysis. To qualify for a CBATL certification a person must at least have 15,000 hours of work experience as a business analyst. To be a Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader, a candidate must pass an assessment-based exam that tests their critical thinking skills. Unlike other business analysts, a CBATL helps in the development of business analyst sector.
PMI Professional in Business Analysis
The PMI-PBA certification is designed for professionals who have 5 years or more work experience as a business analyst. This is offered through the Project Management Institute, which is highly specialized in providing a wide range of project management certifications. The PMI-PBA certification is ideal for professionals currently working on projects and would like to incorporate the principles of business analysis in their roles.
To be eligible, a professional must possess 7,500 hours of work experience as a business analyst and 2,000 hours experience in a project. A candidate must also have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent. Without a bachelor’s degree, a candidate must have 5 years or 7,5000 hours experience working as a business analyst.
The PMI-PBA certification must be renewed every 3 years and must have a minimum of 60 professional development units to be certified. Those who fail to meet these requirements, will be suspended for one year until the requirements are satisfied. Failure to comply will result to revocation of the certification.
IREB Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering
This certification emphasizes the need for software and its role in industrial and government projects. The CPRE is a three-level business analyst certification governed by the International Requirements Engineering Board, Germany Systems. The Foundation Level awards the qualified candidate basic certification for Requirements Engineering. There is a 12-month waiting period before a Foundation Level certified professional could apply to the advance levels. After the waiting period, the candidate can proceed with the level two certificates. They can select from these three paths, Requirements Elicitation and Consolidation, Requirements Modelling and Requirements Management.
The Expert Level certifies that a professional has achieved the highest level of competency in both hands-in experience, knowledge, and skills. Certified professionals need not worry about renewing their certifications. All skills and knowledge are based on the fundaments of Requirements Engineering.
The role of a business analyst in today’s information driven world has become indispensable. They have become a vital cog that helps business function optimally. These professionals help break down large, complicated projects into smaller more digestible chunks, making it easier to complete them successfully.
By making complex projects simpler, the testing and reviewing of all processes is simpler. With the ability to analyze data, they can make more informed decisions and make the necessary changes efficiently and accurately.