There are three core business analyst skills, but you have to make sure you choose the right skill depending on the type of business analyst you want to become for your business analyst career.
That’s what I cover in this video.
Business Analysts should possess the ability to Produce Business Requirements and Software Requirements Specifications (BRD and SRS)
A Core BA Skill
That’s the defining characteristic of analysts in business analysis and successful business analysts.
Whether you want to become a business process analyst (BPA) or a business systems analyst (BSA), the one core skill that every business analyst needs to have is the ability to produce business requirements documents (BRD) and functional specifications or software requirements specifications (SRS), as some companies call them.
But I’ll circle back to BRD / SRS’s and you’ll see why. Let’s talk about the BPA skill set…
Business Process Analyst Skill Set
What Are The Two Core Business Process Analysis Skill Sets?
- the ability to perform Process Mapping and Process Design
- the ability to Influence without Authority for business objectives
Difference Between Process Design and Process Mapping Skills
Process mapping is the ability to document business processes and is a subset of business process design. Process Design is the ability to help the company build out new business processes. It’s a core skill set of BPA’s to deliver a solution.
the distinction is very important because sometimes you’ll see ‘Process Mapping’ on job applications..
Some companies just need process mapping skills, but other companies in their job postings will say ‘Process Mapping’ skills when they actually do mean ‘Process Design’ skills.
Process design skills are a lot more involved than just mapping.
What you need to make sure is that whatever methodology you choose to learn is not disconnected from Business Requirements. The way you learn how to do process design has to be requirements oriented, which means your business requirements have to be infused in the process design activities that you do.
You Don’t Have Authority To Tell Anyone What To Do As a BPA
Yet, as part of your job, you have to make sure that the business process works a certain way in order for the whole solution to hold together. As somebody who doesn’t have any kind of authority, How do you actually go about doing that?
The key to that is knowing how to influence people without having any authority. That’s the second broad and important skill set that you want to focus on as a business process analyst in the information technology environment. Work improving communication skills with members of your project, and communicate effectively with management.
Business Systems Analyst Skill Set
Business systems analyst skill number one SQL. This technical skill involves the BSA to perform two main activities. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it many times more, You want to learn SQL if you want to be a BSA.
But the BSA can be expected to do a lot, a whole variety of different types of work, now what does the BSA use SQL for?
The two main things that the BSA uses SQL for are what I like to call data discovery and the second one is for data migration.
How to Perform Data Discovery
Now data discovery is a very general description of the set of activities that the BSA does to figure out what the table structure of a database looks like. Your ability to query a database is an essential skill for you to be able to do data discovery.
So for example:
If you’re starting to learn a new application as a BSA, what you want to do is understand the Table Structure in that application very well.
The way you do that is by running a whole host of queries on different tables to figure out what kind of data is in there.
Then, figure out how to reverse engineer that back into what’s called an entity model.
Data discovery is the first main activity that the BSA performs using SQL.
You need really basic SQL skills to do data discovery but you need a lot more advanced skills if you want to perform data migration as a systems analyst.
How to Perform Data Migration
Data migration is the set of activities that the BSA has to do to make sure that they can get data ported from one system into another system. And so typically the BSA needs to perform data migration on projects where the project is replacing an existing system.
What has to happen is that the data in that existing system is good and the business usually still really needs that data. They can’t just throw that out just because they have a new application. So it becomes part of the BSA job to make sure that they can take that data they can cleanse it they can transform it and fit it into the table structure of the new system that’s being delivered.
So that is what is called data migration. SQL is the primary skill that you want to learn if you want to be a BSA.
Business Requirements and Functional Specifications
Tying it all back. You cannot focus on SQL or on Process Design if you have not yet learned the core business analyst skill of producing business requirements and producing functional specifications.
If you’re a BA having a hard time figuring out what kind of skill set you should build first, there should be no question in your mind about what that skill set is.
This video explains exactly how to know the difference between Business Requirements vs Functional Specifications.
So let’s talk a little bit more about what business requirements are.
Your Role As The Analyst
As an analyst, your role is usually in between the business side of the company and the I.T. side of the company. The purpose of business requirements is to express the business’s need in a way that I.T. can understand.
So I’ll repeat that again. The purpose of business requirements is to express the business’s real need in a way that I.T. understands.
You can start to imagine that your business requirements documents are in a lot of ways a contract between the business side of your company and the I.T. side of your company. Essentially the business requirements document expresses, it tells I.T., here’s what the business needs to be able to function properly in the future.