Transferable BA Skills Needed for the Business Analyst Role
Blog Barista: Sharon McLear | July 3, 2019 | Career Hacks | Brew time: 6 min
The “Business Analysis” space in the Information Technology (IT) job market has changed in recent years, hugely due to the universal transition into Agile methods for software projects. While there are business analysis related tasks and responsibilities in Agile projects, there is not a defined, full-time business analyst role anymore. As a result, BA positions in the 2019 IT job market are not as defined by the business analyst job title as they used to be. Trust me, as a BA myself, I’ve seen many of these changes first hand over the past few years.
Now, some former BAs are taking on project leader roles; some are becoming product owners or Scrum Masters on Agile project teams. Others are performing exceptionally well in IT roles which requires similar transferable skills which include excellent communication, specialized business or technical knowledge, professional experience, and the ability to liaise between IT and the business.
I’ve summarized the most common trends in the 2019 Business Analysis job market below along with some reasons for the trends and the skills, experience, technical knowledge that may be transferable from previous any BA experience.
Business Intelligence (Big Data/Analytics)
Business Intelligence (BI) is changing the world of business by making it more informed and even more connected. Performance analysts and data scientists provide the ability to measure and compare while data reveals actionable insights. Data-driven decision making is fundamentally changing leaderships’ approach to business management.
An IT Professional with BI capabilities recognizes the decision-making power BI provides and also the concept of protecting and leveraging data as an asset. This is someone who presents the “data message” in a manner that piques the interest of executives and high-level stakeholders.
Skills that are transferable from the analyst role include an aptitude for assessing the available data and being able to perceive valuable business metrics that can be derived. Being able to identify the inherent structure of the data, develop Entity-Relationship diagrams, and design physical data bases tuned for performance are also important skills.
Technical knowledge of Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) is valuable. Tool knowledge and documenting the data mapping and transformations is a necessary skill, as is knowledge of data governance, best practices, and master data management.
Mobile devices have changed consumer behavior forever, allowing them to be more productive and simplify daily tasks. Any organization looking to build a web or mobile application needs to make sure that it satisfies the client, will be secure and can be extended if needed in the future.
An IT Professional with mobile applications capabilities can help guide their company’s business choices regarding web or mobile applications by helping them to choose technology based on business needs and other factors such as the availability of skilled developers. This is someone who is up-to-date and well-informed on the rapidly changing landscape of mobile applications.
Skills transferable from the analyst role include tracking the new requirements that are constantly emerging to cover a vast number of browsers and devices. Mobile applications capabilities also include being able to liaise between IT and the business, sorting out which new features to implement and being aware of known compatibility issues (such as when implementing iOS 11).
Software testing budgets are on the rise! And so is the demand for Quality Assurance (QA) managers, coordinators and testers. There are multiple phases of testing that validate software against the requirements for which it was built.
An IT Professional with QA capabilities monitors the software engineering processes and methods used to ensure quality. Skills transferable from the analyst role include being able to liaise between IT and the business to verify the system meets its intended purposes. Other transferable skills include tracking projects from scope and requirements through testing, defect management and metrics reporting. This is also someone who is experienced in the use of software testing and lifecycle tools such as Rational, JIRA, Top Team analyst, etc.
As organizations increase their maturity with Agile development, organizations are succeeding when implementing Agile through their entire organization. While scaling Agile is becoming the norm evidence shows that most organizations use an “Agile-hybrid” where they leverage some portion of Waterfall which the organization finds useful in their Agile practices.
An IT Professional with Agile experience has become well-trained (or even certified) by playing a role in one or more agile projects. The skills that are transferable from the analyst role include specific Agile experience and practical use of current system development methods. A few years of solid, current experience can be better than several years of doing the same thing, the same way, using outdated methods. An example of current updated methods might include the use of diagramming tools such as Visio for writing user stories and interactive demos, instead of overwhelming narrative text to define requirements.
With continuous integration and delivery being required by Agile product delivery, quality testing, and numerous maintenance releases every year, the industry is looking for IT professionals who can promote better communication between software development (Dev) and information technology operations (Ops).
An IT Professional with DevOps capabilities has acquired the soft skills to interact between development and operations, and the hard skills of Linux scripting and technical DevOps tools. Skills transferable from the analyst role include workflow analysis and process improvement for determining how to improve the Plan, Build, and Run model, or how to shorten the cycle and achieving these goals while aligning with business objectives.
User Experience Design
As web and mobile development expand, companies are investing in great design. How a product or website looks and feels functionally, aesthetically and even emotionally, can make a difference to the financial bottom line of any organization.
An IT Professional with User Experience (UX) capabilities combines web design with graphics and human behavior to “create an enjoyable experience.” The skills that are transferable from the analyst role include being able to liaise between IT and the business, drawing on user research and workflow analysis, conducting usability testing, and creating wireframes and prototypes.
These skills highly complement the Business Intelligence (BI) specialist when the individual has a flair for producing colorful, graphic and stylish dashboards.
Front-end Development and SQL
An IT Professional with front-end development and SQL capabilities investigates and resolves issues that arise in testing without needing to go back to the development team. Therefore, the skills that are transferable from the analyst role include the ability to bridge the gap between graphical design, technical implementation, and the data base.
The technology and IT industries will always be changing. So, it makes sense that the business analyst positions are not the same as they used to be. In today’s job market, the BA skill set has become highly transferable to other IT positions that are in high demand. As a BA, it’s important to continuously identify and understand these transferable BA skills because not only will job market trends change, but those skills can help liaise between IT and the business which will make for better, well-rounded and stronger team.
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