Business analyst help guide businesses in improving processes, products, services and software through data analysis. These agile workers straddle the line between IT and the business to help bridge the gap and improve efficiency.
What is a business analyst?
Business analysts are responsible for bridging the gap between IT and the business using data analytics to assess processes, determine requirements and deliver data-driven recommendations and reports to executives and stakeholders.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), a nonprofit professional association, considers the business analyst “an agent of change,” writing that business analysis “is a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.”
The business analyst position requires both hard skills and soft skills. Business analysts need to know how to pull, analyze and report data trends, and be able to share that information with others and apply it on the business side. Not all business analysts need a background in IT as long as they have a general understanding of how systems, products and tools work. Alternatively, some business analysts have a strong IT background and less experience in business, and are interested in shifting away from IT to this hybrid role.
Core business analyst responsibilities
BAs engage with business leaders and users to understand how data-driven changes to process, products, services, software and hardware can improve efficiencies and add value. They must articulate those ideas but also balance them against what’s technologically feasible and financially and functionally reasonable. Depending on the role, you might work with data sets to improve products, hardware, tools, software, services or process.
Identifying and then prioritizing technical and functional requirements tops the business analyst's list of responsibilities, says Bob Gregory, a professor and academic program director for the business analysis and management degree program at Bellevue University.
“Elicitation of requirements and using those requirements to get IT onboard and understand what the client really wants, that’s one of the biggest responsibilities for BAs. They have to work as a product owner, even though the business is the product owner,” Gregory says.