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Business Analysts

"Business Analysts fix broken businesses"

Careers for business analysts are not only lucrative but they are also very satisfying. Business analysts are responsible for analyzing the workings of an organization along with the design of business methods being used and creating a bridge between management, front line employees and customer needs. It is the analyst's jobs to understand client and market requirements and devise solutions. So, they have a major say in changing the way in which business is done in an organization. If you are interested in a job as a business analyst, here is a look at the responsibilities of the position, the educational qualifications, remuneration, working conditions and more.

An Overview Of Jobs For Business Analysts

Business Analysts

The role of business analysts is not restricted to technical aspects; they often play vital roles in marketing and finance as well. There are two ways in which you can work as business analysts, you could either be employed with an organization or you could choose to be an independent contractor. The sector can be divided into four distinct tiers that include:

  1. Strategic planning: Analyzing and providing for the organization's strategic business requirements
  2. Operational Analysis: Defining and analyzing the operational policies and market strategies and approach of an organization.
  3. Process analysis: Modeling of the business process through process design
  4. IT/ Business Systems analysis: Defining the functional requirements of an application and proposing changes to client business processes

What Do Business Analysts Do?

An analyst in a business is expected to analyze and critique the various business functions including finance, marketing, IT etc to improve the productivity and efficiency of an establishment. A professional in this position also helps the company to optimize its day to day operations and evaluate the structure of its business.

Business analysts are generally hired by companies to solve business problems, to streamline their business practices and to gain an edge over their competitors. It is the analyst's job to scrutinize the various operational procedures of the company and find solutions, which will help the company to function efficiently.

In some companies analysts are also expected to focus on the issues concerning the major stakeholders of an organization; they have to routinely write reports with specific recommendations.

Educational Qualifications
and Other Skills Required

You will need a bachelor's degree to get business analysts jobs with a major in industrial engineering, business management, finance or computer science. You should also consider becoming certified. One such certification is the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis from IIBA. Other organizations offer certification, however just make sure that you go to a respected and accredited establishment to earn your credential.

Apart from this, you will also need to have an in depth understanding of organizational skills and superlative interpersonal skills. It would also help to study UML (Unified Modeling Language) which is commonly used in IT.

A Business Analyst's Workday

The workday of business analysts includes the following tasks:

Scheduling clients: Whether you hold a job in an organization or work as an independent contractor, you will need to spend a lot of time talking to the business and IT operations teams. Also, you will need to frequently schedule projects for different clients.

Observation: An analyst spends the majority of his time observing the day to day operations of the various departments. He will spend a lot of time each day observing the requirements of the organization, business process flow, the various systems available to the staff and how these are being used to optimize the workings of a department. Additionally, you may also have to spend a significant amount of time studying the client procedures and policies.

Review and Analysis: The data procured through observation, meetings and discussions is then compiled and analyzed. Also, the analyst will have to review previous reports that help to understand the issues afflicting the day to day operations of the company.

The analysis phase will finally lead to the solution phase wherein the analyst will be expected to provide solutions to streamline the business process.

Preparing Reports: Once the problems have been analyzed and solutions have been devised, an analyst has to put it all down in black and white, in the form of a report. Business analysts will have to provide detailed reports on the various solutions proposed by him and how each of these help to solve a specific problem. Financial estimates will also be part of such reports

Client meetings: Business analysts will also need to spend a considerable amount of time interacting with the internal or external clients.

Salary Expectations

The average salary of business analysts is $81,000 per annum. A junior business analysts will likely start at about $48,000.

Working Conditions

Business analysts work out of convenient and comfortable office environment with little or no fieldwork involved depending on the nature of the organization. The position entails constant communication with the clients and the development team.

Promotion Opportunities

While you may start at the entry level position of junior business analysts, you can quickly progress to senior levels if you apply yourself. After garnering 3 to 5 years of experience, you will have the option of working as an independent contractor.

Why You Should Join
The Ranks Of Business Analysts

Business analysts are an asset to the organization who helps to streamline processes and increase the efficiency of an organization and its profits. People in this position share a good rapport with almost all the departments of the company.

Because of the immense competition, several sectors offer rewarding prospects for well qualified and experienced analysts including pharmaceutical, finance, insurance, banking, IT/ITES, healthcare, budgeting and others.

As a matter of fact, it can be safely said that all companies; regardless of the sector that they operate in, need business analysts. Although it can be difficult to find an entry level position in the business analyst field, once you secure a job and get the perquisite experience, you should have no dearth of job opportunities.

Business analysts enjoy greater job security because of the versatility of their positions. Research also indicates that the sector has been sparred the ill effects of recession because companies require new ways of thinking even in a glum economic scenario.

Because a business analyst is expected to have in depth knowledge about the various business functions, a person in this position can readily change his expertise in the different facets of business to look for alternative employment. For instance, technical know how can be used to secure employment as a QA. On the other hand, product industry specific product knowledge can be used to work in marketing and sales. Also, the knowledge of the various sectors can help a business analyst move up the corporate ladder to managerial positions.

Since an analyst working in a business is on both sides of the company, the clients as well as the organizations, regardless of how the coin flips, he always has it landing back safely into the business analysts hands.

© 2015 Stellar Force

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The Hero Every Agile Team Needs
by Saurabh1812
26 Feb 2017 at 11:21am
One of the many differences between traditional IT projects and agile projects is the role of a Business Analyst. In traditional IT projects, Business Analyst’s role is limited only until the requirements phase. Business Analyst will gather and analyze the requirements, write dangerously lengthy documents (BRDs and FRDs), and pass on these heaps of documents to the development and testing teams. Sometimes the analyst may also write high-level test cases and perform some system testing. Moreover, if there are any changes to the baseline documents, the analyst will come into play again, update the documents and pass the same to the dev team. That is it. Once the documentation is completed and passed on the dev/testing team, the BA moves on the next project. Either the business owner or the dev team raises the slightest change to the baseline requirement, which in fact is a BA’s job to do proper gap/impact analysis. If we observe carefully, the role of BA in traditional IT projects is more of “it’s not my job” type rather than a proactive one. Consider an agile project on the other hand. Agile projects do not require massive documentation in advance. Moreover, in agile projects, the business owner might communicate directly with the agile team (developers) and sometimes the agile teams are even co-located, which makes the communication between business owner and agile team easier. So, there is no role of a Business Analyst in agile projects you say! If we map traditional BA’s job to agile projects, then the role of a BA is of little value as a Documenter in agile. Since, as compared to traditional software projects, agile does not require massive documentation in advance and rather focuses on face-to-face communication. Moreover, there are certain dangerous assumptions made by agile teams. You can read these assumptions in my previous article. Apart from these, the most important factor is the unavailability of business users or product managers. Good product managers have very limited time to spend with the development teams, as they are constantly figuring “what” rather than “how”, busy in figuring the product strategy and road-map. Hence, we cannot blame the product managers for limited time. People are always inclined towards their thoughts, feelings and opinions. And this inclination often tends to introduce bias in their actions and they become quite subjective rather than being objective. So it is quite natural that Business owners/Product Managers get inclined towards certain product features and raise their priorities. This bias might work against the actual business needs. To address all the above problems, it is imperative for organizations to have a full time Agile Business Analyst in the team. Notice the word “Agile”. Why I tend to focus on the word agile is because the responsibilities of a BA differ drastically in agile and traditional software projects. Agile BA performs the following activities on a full time basis: -        Gather requirements   -        Evaluate whether the software being developed satisfies the business needs   -        Assess the relative business value each feature will provide and prioritize them   -        Evaluate the current business processes and propose improvements/new solutions   -        Elaborate the software requirements from the high level ideas given by the business users   -        Gather the supporting information for the requirements   -        Ensure the non-functional requirements are handled   -        Handles time consuming activities (like details out the acceptance criteria) which in turn gives more time to the business users to focus on high level ideas and abstract requirements   -        Helps in stakeholder management and product implementation strategy   -        Provides training to the target audience and Level 2 support   -        Acts as business user’s representative for the development teams   Some of the responsibilities overlap with the traditional BAs. However, the most important responsibility is to convey the prioritized requirements to the development teams face-to-face rather than writing pages and pages. Moreover, the agile BA is full time available for the development teams to clarify a requirement, to solve a doubt, to give a glimpse of future requirements. Apart from all the responsibilities above, agile BA also helps in project and resource management. Agile BA reviews the existing business process, proposes changes/improvements to the existing processes, and in turn creates new Business Cases, which lead to additional projects and funding. Agile BA is more than just a BA. Agile BA takes all the roles from Analyst to Facilitator. The most important advantage in having a full time agile BA, that outweighs all the other advantages, is that the business user or product manager has someone as a partner, someone who can fill the gaps, someone who can review and highlight the dark spots, someone who can provide alternate solutions and bring a different perspective, someone to depend on. This article is based on the book "The Power of Agile Business Analyst" by "Jamie Lynn Cooke".   Author: Saurabh Shah, Business Analyst
The Kick-Off Word in Great Business Definitions: Guidelines for Building Wor...
by Transform VA
20 Feb 2017 at 6:48pm
There’s a high premium on knowing how to craft great definitions. Every business analyst should know how. To get you started, here are some basic criteria for great business definitions: It should be easy to give examples for the thing defined, but there should be no counterexamples. Each definition should communicate the essence of what a thing is, not what it does, how it’s used, or why it’s important. The definition of a thing should focus on its unique characteristics. Each thing you define should be distinguishable from every other thing you define using the definition alone. Each definition should be concise and as short as possible without loss of meaning. A definition should be readable.
Let Business Analysis Evolve Along with your Organization as it Fights to Kee...
by Transform VA
10 Feb 2017 at 11:04pm
This is the time for the BA community to expand its capabilities and provide critical value to the organization. With a massive 86% of global CEOs reporting a lack of time to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping their company’s future, businesses leaders must lean on the evolving capabilities of the business analysis community.
?Alice In Wonderland?: Defining ?Chaos? through the Lens of Wonderland ? The End
by Transform VA
5 Feb 2017 at 5:14pm
The causes of chaos are unpredictable behaviors that arise from individuals, teams, or systems. Behaviors portrayed by the mentioned three components affect how an organization is able to handle challenges and problems. By allowing individuals and teams to portray their own behaviors in the working environment, different components of an organization may either work properly or experience failure. In the subsequent sections, we will elaborate on some mechanisms that trigger chaos in an organizational context.
Deep Dive Models in Agile Series: Business Data Diagram
by Transform VA
29 Jan 2017 at 11:40am
Business Data Diagrams are one of those MUST HAVE models for any product that is dealing with data. The exercise of creating the model itself creates a powerful, shared understanding of the underlying data constructs as users understand it. Instrumental in helping to identify additional, more detailed models that might be needed, the BDD can also help you get to a complete set of user stories around users interacting with the data following the create, use, edit, delete, move and copy actions.
Improving the Continuous Improvement
by Saurabh1812
25 Jan 2017 at 11:23am
I always see people go gaga over agile development methodologies. While I agree that agile has its own advantages, I disagree on the fact agile is an all-powerful and does it all kind of methodology. However, if executed right, agile does have the capability to be an all-powerful methodology. Although the advantages outweigh the perils of agile, the perils if not properly addressed can put the business value and relevance of the solution at risk.
Crucial Conversations: How to Effectively Discuss What Matters Most
by Transform VA
22 Jan 2017 at 12:11am
Let’s face it, there are just some conversations that you don’t want to have. There are some people you simply don’t want to talk to, but what happens when we don’t have these conversations? Everyone loses! It is perfectly natural for us to avoid difficult conversations. We fear rejection, retaliation, emotional outbreaks, the dismissal of our ideas, and of course those incredibly awkward moments where everyone around you stares at their feet thinking “God I am glad that’s not me.” However, these conversations need to be had and the Badass Business Analyst will have them. If we want healthy, productive teams and projects, crucial conversations must be had frequently. You can’t just keep ranting, raving, complaining and avoiding, you need to start having meaningful, persuasive conversations that make an impact. You need your ideas to be heard, and more importantly you need behaviors to change. Don’t you think its time you and I have a crucial conversation? Suddenly I feel like I have turned into my father. Sigh. For the record, all of his crucial conversations were always too late, which is maybe why I am so passionate about this particular chapter in my book (the longest chapter by far - okay, moving away from from therapy now).
3 Ways to Change Your Thinking in 2017
by AngelaWick
15 Jan 2017 at 4:56am
Is your team struggling with the transition to modern requirements practices? As many teams explore and experiment with modern practices and agile, they often jump to apply tactical methods and techniques. But does anything really change?   Most teams work really hard and don’t see results. Or they find a few early benefits, but get stuck on a low plateau. They often give up and slide back into their old habits. Why? Because they’ve modified surface-level tactics, but haven’t modified mindsets.
?Alice in Wonderland?: The Challenges of Delivering in the Midst of Chaos, Ep...
by Transform VA
8 Jan 2017 at 1:18am
Every organization has some degree of “chaotic” culture. Some of them breed chaos and unconsciously operate in chaos. Project management is designed to operate with structure. However, reality has always contained a dose of “Wonderland” as well. Projects find themselves at odds with the environment that they operate within when the underlying organizational culture tends to be chaotic and less disciplinary and operates randomly. Project management methodologies and execution processes’ logic and convention are contradicted by the chaotic, shape-shifting setting of “Wonderland.” This conflict threatens a successful outcome for a project. The uncertainty that projects are confronted with throughout the execution process can be fatal. Chaos, by its very nature, is impossible to control completely, and so projects struggle to deliver as they fail to manage the conflict they find themselves in with the organization’s way of life.
Develop Confidence in Your Abilities and... (Domain Knowledge is Overrated - ...
by Transform VA
2 Jan 2017 at 3:15am
Many business analysts fail to achieve top performance while starting to work on a new domain simply because of their fear of making mistakes. I’ve heard analysts freely admit that looking less than competent is what they fear most. “I don’t know what I don’t know” they will tell me, “and in particular in a domain I’m not very familiar with, I’m always afraid I will miss an assumption or an avenue I must address.”
How to tell stories as a Business Analyst?
by Saurabh1812
28 Dec 2016 at 4:33am
A story is defined as a narrative or tale, true or imaginary. Each story has a moral hidden in it. A story writer won't directly say that hard work and patience is the key to success. Instead the writer came up with a story of Hare and Tortoise. And if we observe carefully, stories are everywhere; we ask a friend about her love story, we watch a prime time news story, we ask a new friend about his life's story, the movie I watched the other day had a good story. 
Governance, Compliance and Business Rules (Through Young Eyes)
by Transform VA
18 Dec 2016 at 9:17pm
When my older son graduated from college, he worked as an intern for a professional sports team. At the end of his very first day of work he called me, puzzled. "I asked them what my responsibilities were," he related, "and they said, 'We need you to know what we are supposed to be doing'." After a long pause he went on, "I wanted to ask them why they didn't already know what they were supposed to be doing, but I didn't think that would be such a great idea my very first day there."
?Alice in Wonderland?: Meet Wonderland?s Stakeholders, Episode 4
by Transform VA
11 Dec 2016 at 3:20pm
Moving on, we will investigate the importance of the business analyst’s often delicate relationship with individual stakeholders.   A business analyst is a facilitator of change, and in affecting these changes within a company, the analyst must interact with multiple stakeholders of varying personalities. When identifying and delivering the necessary changes within a business, the analyst must develop and maintain a relationship with each individual stakeholder.  Each stakeholder will wield a different level of authority within the company and hold a certain amount of power over those changes that are coming into effect. Noting this, the analyst must take part in a careful balancing act, juggling these relationships in order to facilitate change with minimal difficulty.
Deep Dive Models in Agile Series: Business Objectives Models
by Transform VA
4 Dec 2016 at 6:48pm
This short paper series, “Deep Dive Models in Agile”, provides valuable information for the Product Owner community to use additional good practices in their projects. In each paper in this series, we take one of the most commonly used visual models in agile and explain how to create one and how to use one to help build, groom, or elaborate your agile backlog.
Bridging Business Model Canvas and Business Architecture
by Transform VA
27 Nov 2016 at 5:02pm
The Business Model Canvas is a common method to build a business plan in very large and small companies because it is both structured and very simple to understand. The Business Model Canvas is also very Customer-Driven. Yet, there has not been in the past an easy way to plan a detailed Business Architecture model starting from a Business Model Canvas to enable marketing and operation planning. In this article, we will demonstrate how to easily bridge a Business Model Canvas to a Business Architecture model to optimize with agility your marketing and operating modeling.

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