What is a Business Analyst?
As a Business Analyst (BA), you play an important role in business and the IT industry, working with organisations to help improve processes and systems, conducting research and analysis, solving problems and mitigating risk.
Business Analyst roles and responsibilities
A Business Analyst is responsible for a wide range of tasks, including:
- Conducting data analysis and gathering information to identify potential business problems and areas for improvement
- Interviewing personnel to understand potential issues and conducting on-site observations to further investigate business processes
- Mapping requirements to business needs
- Proposing solutions to business problems, such as new procedures, training or personnel
- Communicating with internal and external stakeholders
- Creating comprehensive documentation outlining their findings that can be understood company-wide
- Budgeting and forecasting
- Presenting findings and creating useful reports on business impact
What are the key Skills for a Business Analyst?
To become a Business Analyst, you will need to have:
- Problem-solving skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Verbal and written communication skills
- Keen attention to detail
- Organisational skills
- Data and numerical skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Research skills
- Negotiation skills
Remember to add these skills to your CV, demonstrating how you have applied them and how they are relevant to the role!
How to start a Business Analyst career and what are the different routes you can take?
Getting your foot in the door of any career path can be tricky and time consuming. Here is an overview of the different routes into Business Analysis, how to get Business Analyst experience and how long it takes to become a Business Analyst:
There are a number of useful undergraduate degrees that are desirable qualifications in the eye of an employer looking to fill a new Business Analyst position. This includes subjects such as Computer Science, Business Information Systems, Computing, Systems Development and Business Management.
With a bachelor’s degree in these or similar disciplines, which takes roughly three to four years to complete, it is possible to gain an entry level position as an intern or junior Business Analyst.
Certification: What qualifications do you need to become a Business Analyst?
Becoming a qualified Business Analyst can help kick-start your career, as employers often look for recognised certifications of your skills from a professional body. Some of the most acknowledged certificates will come from the International Institute of Business Analysis UK (IIBA) or The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), whereas other recognitions include the ECBA (Early Certificate in Business Analytics) and CAB (Certified Agile Business Analyst Training).
The FDM Business Analysis Graduate Programme
The FDM Business Analysis Graduate Programme offers you the opportunity to kick-start your career as a Business Analyst without having previous work experience or a degree in a business subject. You will receive expert training and gain all the necessary skills and qualifications you need to become a successful Business Analyst in a comparatively short amount of time, before going to work with our leading clients as an FDM Consultant. BA opportunities at FDM are available to undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as returners to work and service leavers.
Experience in relevant fields, namely IT and business, will certainly help in making the move to become a Business Analyst. The types of roles that can facilitate a career transition to a Business Analyst include: Programming, IT, Engineering, Business Development, Data Analysis, Statistics and others. Any experience, from six months to 20 years in a relevant field will go a long way when changing career.
Learning on the job
One of the ways of moving up through the ranks without any of the above is by learning on the job. You can do so by securing a position as an intern or Junior Business Analyst and undertake training (if offered by the organisation) or have regular catch-ups with team leads and managers to learn from their knowledge and experience.
How to get Business Analyst experience?
Obtaining experience as a Business Analyst first requires the correct skills. A good BA will be a great communicator with a mind for data analysis, problem solving, critical and logical thinking and visual modelling. Hard skills in IT, such as awareness of programming languages, SQL and statistical analysis will also be very helpful.
Aside from solving business problems and designing technical solutions, modern Analysts are often required to work closely with business stakeholders, managers and staff to understand problems and operate in line with universal targets. Showing willingness to engage and learn will take a prospective candidate a long way.
When joining the FDM Graduate Programme, you will be professionally trained to industry standards and will be provided with valuable hands-on experience, working closely with our leading global clients.
Apply for Business Analyst roles and prepare for interviews (with sample answers!)
Looking for a new job can be time consuming but there are plenty of opportunities out there! Why not try using a job agency or job site, a careers development programme, like FDM, or get in touch with friends and family to see if they can help you?
You will also need to start preparing for job interviews. Here are some common questions that get asked during a Business Analyst job interview:
What key strengths do you think a Business Analyst should have?
Example answer: “A Business Analyst should have both technical and non-technical skills since it is such a multi-faceted role. Some of the most important strengths include problem-solving and analytical skills, and written and verbal communication. These skills are important for analysing data, identifying potential problems, finding solutions and communicating these across the company.”
How would you deal with working with a difficult stakeholder?
Example answer: “Working with difficult stakeholders is where communication and problem-solving skills are so important. You need to be able to see things from different perspectives and show empathy towards others to help facilitate the working relationship and resolve tricky situations.”
What Business Analysis tools or technologies do you consider most important?
Example answer: “Tools like Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Word, SQL, Google Analytics, Tableau and MS Visio are most important for a Business Analyst. These tools are essential for data analysis, data visualisation and reporting.”
If you can draw upon any personal experience or give real examples in any of your answers, then that’s a plus! Check out our blog for more interview preparation advice.
At FDM, you will be required to complete a strength-based interview which focuses on your passions and potential for the role, rather than your previous experience or role-specific knowledge. Find out more about the FDM interview process here.
Don’t stop learning!
The world of business is forever changing, adapting and progressing, often even on a daily basis, so it’s absolutely essential that keen-eyed Business Analysts keep up to date with industry-specific news and developments, whilst also honing and gaining new IT skills with constant practice and engagement.
The best software to practice your skills include Lynda, Udemy, Khan Academy and edx.
Opportunities for Progression as Business Analyst
Working as a Business Analyst offers endless opportunities for progression into more senior and niche roles. This could see you progressing into project management or product management roles, as well as senior or lead Analyst or consultant roles. Some specialist roles include Business Systems Analyst, Enterprise Business Analyst or Quantitative Analyst.