How to Become a Business Analyst
If you are a follower of the Indian job economy, you would observe that the popularity and demand for “analyst” roles have grown multifold over the last 2-3 years. In particular, the role of a business analyst is vital for an organization to become more efficient and insightful and for them to make informed decisions that catalyze growth.
Before we understand “how to become a business analyst,’ let us understand the persona of a business analyst, including their responsibilities and significance within an organization.
Table of Contents
Who is a business analyst?
In a large organization, multiple teams work in tandem. More often than not, the organization has an isolationist approach. In other words, the teams don’t collaborate to deliver cross-functional insights or metrics that could aid in informed decision-making. A business analyst’s role in such organizations is to bridge the team and the business by providing data-backed recommendations, optimization strategies, workflow improvement plans, and strategies to enhance customer satisfaction across the project’s lifecycle and solve business problems. Depending on the organization, their role and what they deliver are prone to change. However, largely, they wear the hat of an analytical problem solver who works with the team, the project managers, the executives implementing the project, and the management team at large to deliver actionable intelligence.
What are the key responsibilities of a business analyst?
Identifying and prioritizing technical and functional requirements are two essential functions of a business analyst. A good business analyst must be able to articulate their requirements and expectations across teams while simultaneously managing expectations and articulating practical limitations to key stakeholders internally and among client organizations.
A few questions business analysts need to ask:
What do the systems need to do, and how do they do it?
Where do I get the required input from?
How do we get complete alignment among all teams and stakeholders on the project?
How can we arrive at the most cost-effective solution without compromising efficiency, quality, and timeliness?
What workflows do I need to enable to ensure the said solution is fool-proof and systemic?
While dynamic, the role of a business analyst caters largely to the questions and scenarios mentioned above.
What are the core skills needed for a business analyst?
A business analyst could be classified as a data analyst or data science expert with business administration knowledge. According to the International Institute of Business Administration, the following technical skills are paramount for a business analyst to master:
Data Analytics: Without data analysis competencies, the ability to extract the right data and metrics will be limited. It will comprise the quality a business analyst brings to the table regarding recommendations. Data analytics will involve knowledge of data cleaning, data consolidation, and data visualization using tools like Tableau or Microsoft PowerBI. Furthermore, the ability to analyze big data using programming languages such as Python and R will prove advantageous.
Business Analytics – Business analytics, unlike data analytics, revolves around understanding and processing the data from a business’s context. Business analytics also extends into strategic decision-making based on inferences from mined data. Skills include statistical analysis, defining key business metrics, understanding insights, and recommending optimal solutions.
Project and Stakeholder Management – Project and stakeholder management is essential to a business analyst. Considering they will be working with multiple teams, internally and the client, scheduling and time management are important skills to master. The ability to negotiate expectations, mitigate risks, plan and deliver on time while keeping all stakeholders in the loop are skills expected of business analysts.
Business Model Analysis – Given that business analysts are agents of change and transform a solution or project for a business, they need to understand how business models work, including pricing strategies, go-to-market strategies, defining policies, and more.
Process Design – To ensure project success, a business analyst must standardize workflows, systems, and tools to optimize efficiency, glean deep insights, and unify the measures of success. Hence, the ability to design comprehensive processes is imperative to master.
Nontechnical/Soft skills that profoundly impact a business analyst
Communication skills – Spoken and Written
Presentation and persuasion skills
Leadership and team management abilities
Analytical skills and problem-solving abilities
Now we come to the most important question: ‘How can I become a business analyst?’
The answer is different depending on your status quo as a professional.
If you are a student:
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Most business analysts at least hold a bachelor’s degree in information systems, computer science, business administration, information technology, or economics. If you opt for business administration or economics, opting for additional programming courses would be advantageous. Conversely, if you choose IT or computer science, sharpening your business acumen with basics in courses like financial management, pricing strategies, and marketing strategies would prove useful.
Step 2: Don’t restrict yourself to formal education. Do certification courses.
Formal education will provide foundational knowledge; however, certification courses outside the curriculum on platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, etc., will expose you to practical applications and provide them with opportunities to work on projects to build a portfolio.
Skills ideal for an entry-level business analyst
MySQL for database management.
Tableau or PowerBI for data visualization.
Step 3: Explore internship opportunities while in College
An internship is a perfect launch pad for you to gain hands-on industry experience and gauge what additional skills you require. Further, some organizations absorb interns into permanent roles depending on their skills and competency. Leverage platforms like LinkedIn, Apna, Monster, etc., for internship opportunities.
Step 4: Apply to multiple entry-level business analyst roles as you graduate
When you graduate, apply to entry-level business analyst or process analyst roles across industries and organizations. Search for open roles on LinkedIn, Apna, or Naukri, or explore talent management companies like Xpheno.com for open positions. Go through the job description, understand the skills required and work on those skills if you lack any for better chances of landing a job.
Step 5: Network hard
Networking is a candidate’s silver bullet. The more you connect with potential employers and recruiters and let them know you are seeking opportunities, the greater your chances of getting hired. Use LinkedIn to connect with heads of HR or IT project managers and seek openings in their organizations. Seek referrals or tips on landing a job within their organization and work on your profile.
If you are a fresher:
Step 1: Do a profile audit
Look for entry-level business analyst jobs and understand where you lack and what works in your favor regarding required skills and desired qualifications. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree in the field the organization expects, you can do certification courses and explore learning paths to gain the necessary knowledge and credibility.
Step 2: Explore IIBA certifications
The International Institute of Business Analysis is a global professional body comprising business analysts from around the world. They offer certification programs at various levels. The Entry Certificate in Business Analysis would be ideal for an entry-level candidate and will improve your hiring odds.
Step 3: Network, network, network
Breaking in will be challenging in a competitive and high-paying landscape such as business analysis. Networking with senior business analysts, project managers, and industry leaders through LinkedIn will shape your career.
Step 4: Build a robust portfolio
You may be currently employed in a different capacity and be looking to venture into the business analysis world. A strong portfolio can help you with that transition. Like a UX designer or a data scientist, your portfolio will highlight the different skills you bring to the table as a business analyst, including project management, budget planning, solution development, etc. If you do not possess these skills, seek opportunities within your organization to demonstrate/hone these skills to bolster your move into business analysis.
If you are an experienced candidate:
Step 1: Do a profile audit and consider a lateral move
If you have more than three years of experience in a different role such as finance, operations, or project management, do a detailed profile audit and seek lateral roles within your organization that let you explore your capabilities as a business analyst. If your audit demonstrates weaknesses in your profile, offset them with certification courses and skill badges.
Step 2: IIBA certification
The International Institute of Business Analysts offers multiple certification courses to further your chances of transitioning into a business analyst role. Explore these (https://www.iiba.org/business-analysis-certifications/iiba-certifications/) programs to identify what fits your bill. Furthermore, specific programs such as Agile, cyber security, and product owner certifications will help you break into specific roles.
Step 3: Portfolio. Portfolio. Portfolio.
The portfolio is the magic key to landing you a highly coveted business analyst role. Your portfolio must demonstrate your abilities in project management, stakeholder management, process creation, business intelligence, and data intelligence to convince your employer that hiring you would be a value add for their organization. Draw from your 3-year professional experience at your current organization to enrich your portfolio.
Step 4: Invest in a master’s degree if you have the resources.
Most colleges and universities today offer a master’s level program in relevant domains to provide formal training and hands-on experience. Many organizations today expect a master’s degree from their business analysts; hence, this investment would improve your chances of landing a job. Explore distance learning and online programs from IITs and IIMs for better employability.
What are the different roles that require a business analyst’s bent of mind?
So, why does anybody have to go through so much to become a business analyst? Simply put, a business analyst’s role provides great pay and lets you be in the thick of action and business at all times. According to Glassdoor, the average business analyst’s salary is around INR 7,625,000, with the pay range improving as you gain experience and depend on the organization.
Furthermore, a business analyst works with top executives across both sides of the table, enabling better networking and career growth opportunities.
Are you ready to become a business analyst now? Why don’t you explore open business analyst jobs on our portal and apply?