What is a business analyst and what do they do?

Business analysts use data to assess the operations of a company, provide insight and recommend ways to improve processes to help improve profitability & liquidity, solve existing issues and better achieve business goals. In addition, Business analysts are becoming increasingly important as a bridge between finance, IT and the wider business as organisations become progressively more reliant on technology

A key task of any business analyst is to engage with business leaders to address strategic needs of the organisation. Relying on strong data and analytical skills, Business analysts work with stakeholders to help the business improve processes as well as their products, services and software, resulting in greater efficiency.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Collaborating with colleagues to understand the needs of departments and the organisation as a whole.
  • Liaising with stakeholders to gather feedback into the service, function or product provided.
  • Identifying and prioritising technical and functional requirements.
  • Analysing findings using data modelling practices.
  • Recommending strategic and operational improvements and changes, considering potential risks attached.
  • Developing project plans and providing project management assistance.
  • Identifying the processes and information technology required to introduce your recommendations.
  • Reporting findings and presenting to stakeholders when necessary.
  • Improving the quality of the products and services delivered by technology.
  • Supporting staff and teams in making recommended changes, including helping to resolve any issues.
  • Evaluating the impact of the changes made, reporting back as necessary.

Why are they important?

Business analysts bridge the gap between finance, IT and the business, often acting as a translator that facilitates communication between business departments. They play a key role in aligning the needs of the business with the capabilities that can be delivered by technology and can be instrumental in creating new models that support business decisions.

Skills needed for this role

Excellent problem-solving and analytical skills are vital for this role, as is a strong understanding of technology. Business analysts must have outstanding communication skills as they are required to engage with and influence a wide variety of individuals, including very senior stakeholders. Project and change management experience is also highly beneficial.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Performance Management

Advanced Performance Management

Career opportunities presented by this role

Business analyst roles exist on a permanent basis and can also be fixed-term in order to work on a particular project. Roles are available in the public and private sector, large multinationals and smaller independent organisations, and span a variety of industries. It is not uncommon for more experienced business analysts to work on a contract or consultancy basis.

Competencies

High level competencies required include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.

     

  • Data, digital and technology

    A. Identifies strategic options to add value, using data and technology.

    B. Analyses and evaluates data using appropriate technologies and tools.

    C. Applies technologies to visualise data clearly and effectively.

    D. Applies scepticism and ethical judgement to the use of data and data technology.

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A - Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B - Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C - Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D - Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E - Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.
     

  • Strategy and innovation

     

    A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.

    B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop sustainable plans and objectives.

    C. Evaluates, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.

    D. Adopts and applies innovative methods to implement strategy and manages change.