12 Skills Every Business Analyst Should Have

One of the biggest gifts of life is access to education. Education leads us to career choices. Being a successful business analyst requires you to have a specific set of skills at your disposal to adapt well to any environment - including one that is continuously shifting beneath your feet.  

So, let’s kick off this article by understanding what a business analyst does. After all, this is the career you want! As a business analyst, you will be expected to analyse a business domain along with its documents, processes and systems. You will need to understand how to assess the organisation’s business model and improve processes for better services, products and overall customer satisfaction.

So, let’s evaluate the skills you will need to bring to the table before you go for that job interview. 

1. Interpreting Direction

As a business analyst, you must know how to adapt quickly and understand the directions that are given to you. If you don’t really understand what and why you are being asked to do what you’ve been told, you won’t be able to deliver what’s being asked of you. If you don't understand something, ask for more information. If a brief is unclear, do not hesitate to clear it up so you can deliver on the job.

2. Problem Solving Skills

It doesn't matter what your industry is; you need to be able to solve problems as they occur, or at the minimum, propose solutions to business problems. Projects are often launched with the objective of solving business problems. Business analysts can help to identify burning business problems and come up with possible solutions. They help teams solve the challenges in front of them, and they are able to negotiate carefully among stakeholders to come to the right conclusions. 

3. Critical Thinking Skills

As a business analyst, you must be able to evaluate the multiple options in front of you. Critical thinking is a desirable skill for assessing and evaluating available options that can address business needs.

4. Communication Skills

A business analyst must have the communication skills needed to facilitate stakeholder engagement. You need to be able to facilitate meetings, make inquiries and listen to the business stakeholders you are working with. You should also be comfortable using supporting technology such as Skype, Zoom, etc.

You may not have much experience just yet as a business analyst or the communication skills required, but that can change in time. You need to be able to communicate correctly, ask insightful and meaningful questions about the project, and you need to think about the information you need from the business. On top of all this, you need to be able to communicate with stakeholders at all levels of the organization - from frontline staff to management staff.

5. Facilitation Skills

Often, businesses prefer to use email for communication, especially when an email trail needs to be maintained or a conversation needs to be formalized. Never underestimate the importance of a face-to-face meeting or workshop, however. It’s far easier to bounce off of the right people in a face-to-face conversation than via emails.  

6. Listening Skills

A successful business analyst listens as much as they communicate. You have to absorb and analyse the information given to you so that you can be useful in your role. You have to understand what you’re being told as much as you need to hear it because context is so important. Voice and body language are important as well and can help you decipher what is really being asked of you. That said, if you have no idea what the other party is on about, simply ask. You can't get anywhere if you’re not asking the right questions.

7. Presentation Skills

As a business analyst, you may need to facilitate a presentation or workshop of some kind. You need to be able to confidently stand up and speak to groups of people about your project. You should be able to dissect your content and make it clear in front of your audience that you know what you are talking about. The information you will be in charge of presenting will be discussed in detail, so you need to be ready to answer questions.

8. Time Management Skills

All business analysts must be able to manage their time correctly. Prioritize the business activity you need to keep up with, and you won’t have a problem with time management.

 9. Documentation Skills

A large part of the role of a business analyst is being able to deliver a range of documents (e.g. specification documents) and you should be able to provide these clearly and concisely such that they are easy to understand. This skill will take time to develop, particularly if you are a beginner, and you don’t yet have the skills for preparing the documentation required for the role. Developing your writing skills is an excellent place to start, however.

10. Stakeholder Management

You will need to learn how to deal with stakeholders from the moment you begin your job as a business analyst. Stakeholders do have a level of power and influence over your project, and you need to know how to manage them so you can set the right expectations and get their input and support for the project. 

11. Modelling Skills

You need to develop your modelling skills as a business analyst. You’ll need to have expertise in modelling and the supporting tools that enable you to convey vast amounts of information. Visual models will enable both you and your stakeholders discuss in detail and engage at a level that everyone understands. 

12. Technical Know-How

There are plenty of tools that a new business analyst should have at their disposal in order to do well in their role. This includes essential office tools like PowerPoint and Excel, but you will also need Microsoft Visio as a professional visual modelling tool. You should also explore modelling tools like Enterprise Architect; management tools like Caliber and DOORS, and any other tools that can help you manage your daily tasks.