10 Skills Business Analysts Need For Workplace Success
Updated January 31, 2023
Business analysts solve problems by connecting business needs with information technology resources. To improve efficiency, increase sales, and strengthen processes, you need a unique skill set to succeed in a business analyst role. In this article, we define business analyst skills, discuss top soft and hard skills, and explain how to develop business analyst skills and showcase them to employers or interviewers.
What are business analyst skills?
Business analyst skills are qualities for identifying business needs, analyzing data, and implementing business solutions. Since this role connects the business and technological aspects of a company, you need soft and hard skills as a business analyst.
6 soft business analyst skills
Here are core business analytics skills for workplace success:
Business analysts interact with managers, users, clients, technical professionals, and other stakeholders. Strong communication skills help you express your insights clearly and actively listen to recommendations. You need to know how to explain technical terms, especially when discussing with people with varying levels of technology familiarity.
Strong writing and presentation skills are also helpful when discussing business strategies and telling stories with data. A project's success may depend on your ability to communicate information, such as the project's requirements, testing results, and requested changes.
Before deciding on a solution to meet a business need, business analysts must use critical-thinking skills to evaluate multiple choices. For example, you need to think critically about what data to collect and the implications of the data type you choose. Successful business analysts ask thoughtful questions and think of creative ways to solve business problems. Comprehensive assessments of a business' needs help to build confidence in decision-making.
Your duty as a business analyst is to help companies solve problems, and you need strong problem-solving skills to be successful. You must know how to apply logical thinking, statistics, and predictive analytics to solve issues. Successful business analysts are good at finding patterns and creating implementation plans for solutions.
As an intermediary between a business and its clients, business analysts must be persuasive. You must understand how to balance client wants with business needs using excellent negotiation skills. Business analysts also use negotiation skills when working through solutions and maintaining healthy relationships with external partners. Negotiating with coworkers and developing a work plan that benefits your teammates are also essential qualities for business analysts.
5. Attention to detail
Attention to detail is important for business analysts, as they provide data-driven recommendations on a business's processes or products. Gathering and reviewing large amounts of data requires you to be organized and pay attention to detail.
Working as a business analyst requires excellent interpersonal skills. Business analysts collaborate with executive members and computer technicians to ensure these professionals implement recommendations correctly.
Related: A Guide to Soft Skills
4 hard business analyst skills
Here are the top technical skills business analysts need:
As a business analyst, you must understand how computer systems work and be comfortable using information technology applications. A strong foundation in programming languages, such as Python and R, helps business analysts work with data.
Another essential skill for business analysts is database proficiency. Strong knowledge of database design enables you to organize data properly. You must also know how to gather and place data in graphs, charts, and other visualization tools to find trends and patterns. Designing business systems and testing software are important business analyst skills.
Business analysts typically work with software development teams and communicate solutions to upper management. Understanding software development principles and practices are vital to performing these duties.
Every project starts with a business question or problem to solve. Business analysts need excellent research skills to understand each project and explore all possible outcomes. This involves investigating situations, conducting market research, gathering information, and taking notes about a topic.
Analytical skills are also important in this role. As a business analyst, you must know how to analyze data, documents, user inputs, and workflows to determine how to solve a business problem. Common tools business analysts need to be proficient with include SQL, Microsoft Excel, SPSS, SAS, and other statistical software packages.
4. Project management
Another technical skill a business analyst needs is the ability to manage projects effectively. This involves planning the project's scope, handling requests, forecasting budgets, and ensuring the project meets the delivery timeline. Business analysts also have several ongoing projects, and excellent organizational and project management skills are useful in completing them. For example, you may be responsible for remodelling a new technology and implementing a software program to improve productivity.
Read more: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples
How to improve business analyst skills
Follow these steps to develop your business analyst skills:
1. Identify business analyst skills to improve
Start by determining which business analyst skill you want to improve and create a plan to practice it consistently. For example, you can improve your communication skills by recording yourself communicating with others or practicing public speaking.
2. Set goals and milestones
Next, set SMART goals to help you improve your skills. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals. Doing this can help you identify areas to improve quickly. For example, you can create an action plan to learn a statistical software package and take an online test after six months. Also, share your goals and milestones with a friend to ensure you stay committed to your plans.
3. Gain relevant work experience
Another way to develop your skills is to work as a business analyst intern, volunteer, or employee. Working helps you gain practical experience in various business analyst subjects. Business analysts also improve work-related skills by job shadowing a more experienced professional.
Read more: What Is a Business Analyst Internship? (Benefits and Tips)
4. Complete degrees, continuing education courses, and training programs
Business analysts can complete a master's degree to improve technical skills, such as project management and research skills. Pursuing a professional business certification, such as an Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA), can also help you develop your skill set.
Continuing education courses enable business analysts to stay up-to-date with the industry's developments.
5. Consider joining a professional association
Professional associations provide an opportunity to network with other business analysts and identify skills to develop. For example, you can decide to become an International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) member.
6. Find a mentor or a coach
While self-studying is an effective way to develop business analyst skills, having a professional mentor can also be helpful. Once you find a business analyst mentor, you can reach out for informal meetings, which can later develop into a professional relationship. A mentor or coach can help you avoid mistakes and build your business analyst skills quickly.
7. Monitor your progress
Ensure you review the competency level of the business analyst skill you want to improve. Tracking your progress helps you identify areas to work on to perform your duties well.
How to highlight business analyst skills
Showcasing your business analyst skills can help you get the job you want. Follow these steps to display your business analyst skills:
1. Include business analyst skills on your resume
When preparing your resume, include a section emphasizing your relevant business analyst skills. Consider mentioning the skills in the job description and those a hiring manager can verify by your references. Also, prioritize hard business analyst skills over soft skills. For example, you can explain your project management skills and include skill levels before describing your ability to work as part of a team.
2. Describe your core business analyst skills in interviews
Interviews are another setting to display your business analyst skills. Ensure you research the company and the position's requirements. Preparing for your business analyst interview is typically the first step to show that you can gather and analyze relevant information. During the interview, you can display your soft and hard business analyst skills when answering questions.
3. Demonstrate skills on your cover letter
While an employer may not ask for a cover letter, always send one when applying for business analyst positions. Your business analyst cover letter should discuss at least one relevant skill that explains why you're a good fit for the position.
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