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What Are the Main Skills a Business Analyst Needs?

by Linda Ray

A business analyst is the go-between for project managers and all the other stakeholders in a company. As such, it’s your job to tread the wire between the many worlds and find a balance that works between IT, management, executives, line workers and everyone else affected by the changes a project may bring. It’s about showing all the various stakeholders in a company the big picture, where they fit in with the company goals, how a budget affects overall profits and how those goals are best achieved. Sometimes, a conflict may arise and you will have to act as a peacemaker between various roles in the business. There are a number of skills you should master to make your job more smooth and efficient.

Communication

Being able to communicate effectively is a vital skill for business analysts. You will need to be able to effectively communicate concepts and details to the various departments in language they can understand. You may need to present details from different perspectives to ensure the message is pertinent to the needs of the business. You will need to be able to break down abstract concepts into details and help clients see the big picture. You also need to be able to clearly communicate to the project manager and executive team any risks to the business that you might foresee in a project.

Strategic Thinking

You need to be able to think through the needs of the business in a strategic manner. This means you have to envision the steps needed to meet the company’s goals and be able to stay a few steps ahead of the project’s current status. Try to focus less on the technical solutions and more on what the specific problem is that needs to be solved. Effective business analysts are able to come up with creative solutions to business problems and then communicate those solutions to the various departments for implementation.

Active Listening

Truly listening to what the business needs is critical to finding the right project solutions. You will need good listening skills when you are collecting data and plans to make sure you understand exactly what the business needs as well as be able to see the challenges from the business managers’ perspectives. Listening helps you provide the best quality service to your clients and is helpful when gathering the information you need for a status report.

Customer Service

It’s important for you to deliver good customer service to your clients. This means that you deliver a quality solution that meets the needs of the business. You must be able to relate to your clients on their terms to assure them that you understand their needs and problems. Friendly rapport, prompt responses to queries throughout a project and on-time delivery assure you of future work and solid references.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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