What is a Business Analyst?
The business analyst can go by many names — Business Systems Analyst, Systems Analyst, and Functional Analyst. Each description points to a common title for the person responsible for "analyzing the business needs of their clients and stakeholders to help identify business problems and propose solutions." -- Wikipedia
Whatever name you assign, the role comes down to translating ideas, knowledge, and data into collaborative behavior that has the potential to produce real change in an organization.
From management's point of view, the role is about helping them steer the ship with quantifiable data to measure results against organizational vision and goals. It's about being able to synthesize a set of conditions in an organization (financial, strategic, process and relationship) to improve the bottom line.
Whether internally developed or brought in from the outside, there are certain competencies someone should bring to the table. These competencies fall in three categories — organizational knowledge, business process and interpersonal skills.
I Organizational knowledge
This skill is about language and relationship. The business analyst needs to understand internal jargon and be able to converse with groups that use it, along with being able to translate "business speak" into English.
They also need to be able to navigate key relationships on projects (both management and staff) and work with these groups to uncover problems and opportunities.
Organizational knowledge is often stronger in an internal candidate, who has had time to acclimate themselves to the business. For external candidates, having strong interpersonal skills is key to establishing good working relationships, and getting up to speed quickly on demystifying jargon that people throw around so easily.
II Business Process Skills
The second competency is business process, or the language of how work gets done. At the most basic level, business process is the series of steps taken to perform tasks in your organization. There are high-level business processes (Overview of a procurement process) and detail processes (Paying a vendor, getting purchasing approval etc.).
Business process skills include:
• Applying analytical skills to business requests (which are often high-level or lacking in detail)
• Understanding the requirements from the business perspective and translate them into a form that can be understood and acted on by the customer. Go to www.teibelinc.com/pdf/sample_process_map.pdf for a Sample Process Map.
• Synthesizing business requirements, including recognizing patterns and conceptualizing processes
III Interpersonal Competencies
Finally, the last competency is being able to work with other people and be an effective "translator" among groups. This competency includes:
• Being an effectively facilitator
• Building relationship across teams that need to work together
• Understanding and negotiating the needs and expectations of multiple stakeholders
Together, these three competencies make up the critical elements for a business analyst to make genuine impact in an organization.
Advantages of the In-house Business Analyst
The advantages of developing the in-house business analyst include the following:
1. The person already has relationships and network in place
2. Over long-term, it can become a cost effective investment over hiring repeatedly from the outside
3. It creates a sustainable internal focus on managing change and improvement
On the other hand, the challenges associated with positioning an internal candidate is that internal politics and personalities may make it difficult for them to produce timely change. Sometimes an outside perspective and unbiased point of view is needed to unstick something that has been in place for a long time.
Tool to Assess Internal Candidate
Assessing an internal candidate is about identifying someone who recognizes this role as an opportunity to take the next step in their contribution to the organization. At the heart of a good candidate is personal motivation to transition into this role. Without it, no amount of assistance will help them become an exceptional business analyst.
If you are interested in a tool we designed to help identify potential candidates and their strengths, download the assessment tool below. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it.
Assessment Tool To Develop The Business Analyst
If you are interested in an assessment tool to evaluate internal candidates, go to this URL: www.teibelinc.com/downloads/pdf/assessment-business_analyst.pdf.
You can also inquire about our consulting services and workshops that enable individuals to develop business analyst skills.