With the growing demand of IT and automation projects being incorporated by almost all organizations across various industries, the demand for skilled and well trained Business Analysts (BA) has grown immensely too. So what do these organizations look for when they recruit BA’s for their ongoing as well as new upcoming multidimensional projects? The needs and wants of organizations as well as the project management team have been changing with the time and invent of new technology and so has the role of a BA evolving in general. Let us analyze what could be the core competencies of a successful Business Analyst? With the changing trends and high expectations of the New age Organizations, the core competencies of a successful BA can be listed out as follows: –
1] ANALYTICAL SKILLS: For a Business Analyst, definitely analytical skills are a “must have” competency to be successful. Analytical skills can be defined as the ability to visualize, articulate, and solve complex problems and concepts, and make decisions that make sense based on available information. For a Business Analyst, such skills include demonstration of the ability to apply logical thinking to gathering and analyzing information, designing and testing solutions to problems, and formulating plans. Analytical capacity to go deeper into the domain knowledge and derive the correct and relevant conclusion is a must for proper and meaningful Business Analysis.
2] BUSINESS DOMAIN KNOWLEDGE: Well one of the hot topics of discussion amongst the BA community is whether having a Domain Knowledge, a necessary or sufficient condition for a Business Analyst to be successful in their career? This is a very debatable matter where different people have different views about the same. Some believe that domain knowledge includes both theoretical and practical knowledge and it is a must for anyone but for holistic success you must possess domain knowledge in which you seek your career where as some believe that having domain knowledge will restrict your growth and block your dimension to think in a new direction with a new perspective.To a great extent, a BA is likely to be more effective in his role if he possesses a fair amount of in-depth knowledge and experience in a business domain relevant to a particular project. As projects become larger, global and more complex, the role of the business analyst becomes even more challenging and more critical. So it mostly depends on the complexity of a project, whether or not domain knowledge would be a “must have” or a mandatory condition for a Business Analyst or not. What’s more important is the fact that how a Business Analyst gains and uses the “Cross-functional expertise” over the course of his/her career.
4] REQUIREMENTS ENGINEERING & DOCUMENTATION:This is one competency area, which is yet another contributor to effective and successful business analysis. It is a known fact that a large percentage of the defects discovered during the System Testing and UAT activities are associated with poor quality requirements gathering and documentation. One of the major reasons for this is that the BA invariably assumes that the consumer of the documentation, primarily, the Solution Development Team that actually builds the system, possesses the same level of understanding of the business domain, as him or her. This makes him subconsciously exclude a lot of important details that deserve to be specified. The very harmful aspect of an ambiguously written requirement is that the individual reading and interpreting the requirement might believe that he has perfectly understood the requirement, when his interpretation might actually be quite different from what was meant by the BA who documented the requirement. Unfortunately, the only time both might get to realize the discrepancies is during the UAT, or worse, during the production run, that leads to an unacceptable amount of rework.
This is where the Business Analyst has to be extremely careful about their documentation work and make it sure that they create most unambiguous and well understood documents for all the stakeholders involved. That explains the need for ‘unambiguous’ requirements gathering and documentation.
5] EXCELLENT ELICITATION: One of the most important responsibilities of a Business Analyst is Elicitation the requirements because the requirements serve as the foundation for the solution to the business needs. One can summarize the Elicitation process as drawing forth or bringing out some potential information or response pertaining to the solution. Adequate study and preparation for elicitation can go a long way to preventing errors. The purpose of requirements elicitation, therefore, is to thoroughly identify the business needs, risks, and assumptions associated with any given project. Generally accepted Elicitation techniques used by Business Analysts are Brainstorming, Document Analysis, Focus Groups, Requirements workshops and so on and so forth.
6] BEHAVIORAL & COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS: Behavioral & Communication skills are the most important skills that a business analyst must possess. This is an ability to work out what is and what is not commercially acceptable in an organization. It does mean using resourcefulness and being astute on getting positive end-results, even in the face of opposition. Balanced behavior means forcing an issue moderately, firmly but never arrogantly. Communication skills encompass building rapport, listening, influencing and most importantly creating empathy. Most analysis work involves collecting and analyzing data and presenting back information that brings new perspective on the project so as to propose a course of action. If the communication is not good between the staffs, it leads to frustration when there is a failure to do obvious thing. Communication between business colleagues must be in a language and style that they are comfortable with and avoid what they perceive as techno-babble. Business analyst must identify their target audience and adjust their communication to align with the people they are talking to.
7] ATTENTION TO DETAILS: Many business cases fail because there is no sufficient detailed indication for the proposed change. When a project is handed over to IT specialists, they often find many important issues if the detail have not been addressed. Having an eye for the details is also an important attribute of a good business analyst.
8] INNOVATIVE MINDSET & TECHNOLOGICAL AWARENESS:In this ever changing and competitive environment, it becomes all the more important for a Business Analyst to keep up-to-date with the new technologies and innovations happening around the world. Though a solution need not necessarily have an IT component, in all probability, most of them will, because most businesses today are IT-enabled. Hence it is essential for every BA to possess the ability to understand how IT systems and technology can help solve business problems. In addition, a good understanding of the SDLC is essential to perform business analysis activities effectively. In fact, the organization’s , depending upon whether they want to go for a plan driven approach or a change driven approach approve the SDLC methodology (waterfall, iterative, agile, etc.) that would be applied to the project directly which in turn influences what business analysis activities would be performed by the BAs and what activities are the responsibilities of other team.