Effective business analysis offers enormous value to an organization, from better decision-making to smoother implementation of initiatives. Given the significant changes taking place throughout the business world, it is hardly surprising that the role of the business analyst (BA) is also changing in response to the digital business imperative.
Today the BA elicits requirements through a combination of customer research, design thinking and journey mapping. They also operate, not merely as a gatherer of elements through process modeling, but as an agent of change. What all this means for organizations is that there is now a growing sense of urgency around the need to train a new cadre of “digital” business analysts to support the requirements of business technology agendas.
What skills does a business analyst need today?
In a nutshell, business analysts must be comprehensively skilled in both hard and soft skills across three primary competency domains.
1. Business process analysis tools and methodologies
These are hard skills that include activities such as defining business, stakeholder and solution requirements, performing a variety of analytical assessments of potential solutions, assessing risk, and documenting results based on the chosen solution. While not all organizations require that business analysts be certified, and not all business analysts ultimately decide that certification is necessary for their career, these core skills are critical competencies for success as a business analyst.
Below are some example images that demonstrate some of these analytical activities:
2. New digital technologies, as well as new processes and methodologies
New technologies provide opportunities and challenges businesses could never have imagined a decade ago. The business analyst is key to helping the organization capitalize on these opportunities and address their challenges by educating, evaluating, analyzing, and making strategic recommendations about the business impacts of digital technologies. To achieve that mission, BAs must stay on top of emerging technologies and digital experience platforms.
However, they must do that while also helping the organization take full advantage of existing technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things. In addition, they need to master new processes and techniques such as design thinking, customer journey mapping, and visual prototyping. That’s in addition to becoming proficient in working with new methodologies such as agile, lean product management and DevOps. Keeping up requires a commitment to continuous learning and the flexibility and resilience to drive transformation amidst constant change. It’s enough to make your head spin.
3. Core business and management soft skills
Cross-functional teams cannot function effectively, and business processes cannot be transformed, without mastering skills such as driving innovation, embracing agility, effective communication, team building, strategic thinking and fostering collaboration, to name a few. The BA is an integral component of these project teams, often in a leadership position, and these core business skills are critical competencies for BAs to perform their roles effectively.
What can organizations do to help business analysts stay relevant?
The key is a commitment to continuous learning, and Skillsoft offers an extensive portfolio to develop these critical hard skills, digital competencies, and general business skills.
For those seeking in-depth technical BA training, we provide resources that align with IIBA’s Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) and its Certified Business Analysis Professional certification. These resources include a video-based course curriculum as well as supplemental books and publications such as the CBAP Certification and BABOK Study Guide.
Skillsoft’s Digital Transformation Training is divided into seven competency areas to ensure that learners receive a solid foundation in critical digital transformation concepts, methodologies, and technologies. Finally, Skillsoft offers hundreds of hours of general business skills training to global organizations, providing cost-effective and scalable learning tools for all levels of employees.
Effective business analysis is essential to an organization’s continued success in the digital economy. Business analysts must be prepared to step boldly into the future, armed with the right combination of hard and soft skills required to lay the foundations for their company’s strategies, processes, and decision making. Skillsoft offers the training and learning opportunities they need to reach their goals now and exceed them tomorrow.
Russ Howard is a Sr. Director of Product Management at Skillsoft.