What are the Technical Skills Required for Business Analysts?

Business Analysts are the professionals who work to improve the efficiency of an organisation. They analyse the systems & processes, assess the business model, identify vulnerabilities, and finally devise the solutions based on data analysis. They find solutions to improve the company’s processes, services, products, and software and finally assist in fulfilling the business goals. They usually act as a bridge between IT and the business.

In recent years, the demand for business analysts is growing continuously. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), it is projected to grow from 7% to 25% between 2020 to 2030. This increasing demand is attracting both students and professionals to become a business analyst, as many have started to enrol in various courses to enhance their skills to fit in the role. Such courses are being offered in online as well as offline mode.

The life of a business analyst usually revolves around defining requirements, prioritising requirements, and getting feedback and approvals. Each company has different issues to address like dealing with changing technologies, broken processes, poor clients, customer satisfaction, etc. Thus, the role of a business analyst keeps on evolving. They work closely with the IT and the financial reporting team to establish initiatives and strategies to improve the business under the budget.

The detailed job description of business analysts includes a list of certain technical as well as personal or soft skills that one should possess to apply for this role. While the soft skills are commonly discussed and universal for major jobs, we will be discussing technical skills in detail here. These skills have further been divided into 5 categories of: (i) Technology, (ii) Research, (iii) Analysis, (iv) Financial Planning, and (v) Documentation.

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Technology Based Technical Skills

Business analysts should have extensive knowledge of the IT Industry and should stay updated with all the technological developments. They should have the capabilities to analyse the tools and technologies in the modern era. Some of the tools and technologies they should be aware of are explained below.

  • Office Applications Tools
  • Business analysts should be proficient in using basic applications used in offices like Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Charts, Diagrams, Databases, etc.
  • They should also be proficient with additional tools like e-mail, cloud drives, etc.
  • Operating Systems
  • They should have an understanding of the functions and capabilities of the most common operating systems.
  • Some of the preferred operating systems include Windows, macOS, Linux, and DOS.
  • Software Testing
  • Business analysts often run tests on the software to evaluate its performance, and thus should have knowledge of different such methodologies.
  • They should be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of different testing methods.
  • Some of the tests they should have knowledge in are Test Cases, Manual Testing, Test Scripts, and Automated Tests.
  • Programming Languages
  • Business Analysts need not be required to write codes, still they should have a basic knowledge of programming languages so that they can help the company with better data analysis.
  • They should have skills in some of the programming languages like Java, C++, PHP,  R, Python, and Visual Basic.
  • Business analysts with programming skills will be a great asset to the company.
  • Databases
  • Business analysts should have a deep understanding of databases and skills in SQL, to help them access, retrieve, compile, manipulate and analyse data.
  • They should have knowledge of different types of databases and their functions.
  • Some of the rational databases they should know are SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle, in order to store and process the heavy data. 
  • They should also be aware of non-relational databases, cloud databases, and real-time databases.
  • They should be able to write data manipulation commands like Create, Delete, Select, Update, Insert, etc.
  • Software Development Methods
  • Business analysts should have a basic knowledge of the most common software development methods.
  • Some of the methodologies include Agile development, DevOps deployment, Waterfall development, and rapid application development.
  • Data Visualisation Tools
  • Business Analysts should also be able to create reports and dashboards for solving decision-making problems through business intelligence tools.
  • They should be able to use tools like Tableau, QlikView, and Power BI.
  • Spreadsheets
  • Business Analysts should be proficient in using spreadsheet tools, specifically Microsoft Excel, as it is one of the oldest and strongest analytics and reporting tools.
  • They need to perform several calculations, data analyses, and budget analyses to unravel business patterns.
  • Excel helps to summarise data by creating tables and charts. It can be used to create revenue growth models, plan calendars, list expenses, calculate customer discounts, etc.

Research Based Technical Skills

  • Business analysts should be able to conduct deep research in order to gather information and statistical data to find solutions to specific problems.
  • They should be able to gather accurate data and analyse it on a daily basis.

Analysis Based Technical Skills

  • Business analysts should be able to analyse the gathered data and statistics on whatever problem the company is facing.
  • They need to have data analysis skills to figure out meaningful information out of the data.
  • Data analysis will help understand gap analysis, risk assessment, financial planning, and statistical analysis.

Financial Planning Based Technical Skills

  • Business analysts should be able to plan out the finances for the business solution.
  • They should be able to determine how the business will afford to achieve its strategic goal and objectives.
  • Financial planning is important so that everything can be planned out within the budget and no one loses money, neither the company, nor the client.

Documentation and Organisation Skills

  • Documentation is a process of recording everything that is done for the creation and implementation of the business solution.
  • Business analysts should be able to document their projects, data, findings, and results, very clearly and concisely.
  • They should be able to use different ways of documentation so that they can present their project findings and outcomes to the stakeholders/ clients in an organised way.
  • Proper documentation will help them communicate technical concepts easily with non-technical employees.
  • Some of the types of documentation they should be skilled in are System documentation, User documentation, Process documentation, and Source code documentation.

We have mentioned all the major technical skills that one should have to build an efficient career as a business analyst. One can enrol in online business analyst course to learn these skills, through various online platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Simplilearn, Great Learning, etc. These courses not only help to learn the skills, but also offer certification from recognized institutes.

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