The business analyst plays a central role in an organization. He usually acts as a liaison between the various stakeholders in the business. What key skills are necessary to be a good business analyst?
“As a business analyst, we often find ourselves between the hammer and the anvil! The hammer is upper management, and the anvil is the operations staff,” illustrates Mireille Dazy, an independent business analyst with a dozen years of experience.
Exercising leadership to be a good business analyst
Mireille Dazy identifies leadership as the primary skill to be possessed to be successful as a business analyst.
“It’s up to us to help the client clarify his vision,” the analyst explains. “We have a role as leader and influencer to get everyone moving in the same direction. We also have to know how to play the political game. As well, it is essential to have a good sense of observation to identify those who hold the power and go to the right people to move matters forward.”
To be a good business analyst, you must communicate effectively. As a result, the business analyst must have above average communication skills.
“You have to express yourself clearly,” says Mireille Dazy, “then check the information to make sure it has been understood. Your language must also be adapted to your counterpart. We use technical terms with the people from IT. Upper management, however, needs figures – they want to know the return on investment for the project.” The business analyst must know how to communicate with his collaborators.
The ability to summarize, in the end, counts for a lot in the ability of a business analyst to communicate well. “I regularly use design thinking,” say Mireille Dazy. “I gather people in a room, listen to them, then begin to sketch out their ideas. I then present them with the sketch, to confirm that it is indeed the direction they want to go.”
Know what you are talking about
So far, it is mostly a question of form. Still, content must not be neglected when desiring to become a business analyst. Mireille Dazy reminds us of the importance of understanding the business sector in which the project is deployed.
“If it’s a HR project, you have to learn the basics of this sector. If it’s a project related to finance, you have to understand the basics of finance. It’s not necessary to be an expert, but we must know somewhat of how accounting, procurement, etc., works. If the business analyst does not understand the client’s business sector, it’s impossible to translate his needs and move the project forward.”
A business analyst who has these key skills therefore has all the major assets to accomplish an exceptional job.