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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Business Analyst – Who is a Data Analyst and what do they do?

A business analyst is a specialist who looks for problems in business, optimizes business processes, helps in launching new projects and plans development strategies. He is responsible for interpreting business data and providing guidance to management to improve the company’s performance.

Sometimes the analyst acts as an intermediary between the business and the team of performers. It collects and structures all the requirements for the product, making them understandable to all project participants.

What a Business Analyst Does

In the classical sense, a business analyst is a universal specialist. He understands economics, finance, organizational development and a number of related areas.

Depending on the tasks and needs of the company, the duties of a specialist can vary greatly. For example, his task can only be the analytics of email newsletters in order to increase conversion, and maybe – search for a problem and analyze all the activities of the company.

A business analyst saves a company money and helps it earn more. For example, it can determine which investments did not bring results and correctly redistribute the budget.

Often, analysts specialize in a specific niche:

  • Data analyst. Works with data, creates visualizations and dashboards, builds metrics, finds patterns, thinks through probable changes.
  • Systems analystAnalyzes integrations and architectures, is able to read code and log software errors, forms requirements for developers.
  • Consultant. He has a broad outlook in business and IT. Assists in the digital transformation of business and forms a product development strategy.
  • Business Process Analyst. Analyzes and modernizes the company’s business processes. Identifies possible improvements and creates requirements for changes.

If you study the vacancies of business analysts, the requirements for the applicant will be approximately the same, even if they sound different.

Required skills and knowledge

A key skill required for a successful business analyst is the ability to process information and draw conclusions from it. This requires a solid base in statistics, econometrics, data modeling and visualization, as well as the ability to use specialized software tools to work with Big Data.

Along with hard-skills, soft-skills are also important. Business analysts need to be able to effectively communicate their findings and recommendations to stakeholders at all levels, including a willingness to present inputs and inferences in an understandable way, as well as the ability to interact with individuals with different backgrounds and levels of technical knowledge.

Flexible skills required by a specialist:

  • communication skills and ability to work in a team;
  • time management and organizational skills;
  • ability to conduct business negotiations, both orally and in writing;
  • stress resistance and the ability to solve conflict situations.

Professional knowledge and skills include the following:

  • Able to collect information about the business and the product. To collect data, it uses questionnaires, interviews, personal communication, study of technical documentation, industry press, specialized Internet sites and other sources.
  • Able to formulate technical specifications. Knows how to correctly describe the requirements of the customer, can clearly describe the necessary functionality. For example, design features, performance, operational and appearance requirements.
  • He knows the theory of business analysis. Can give an assessment of the structure and functionality of the company.
  • Understands the technical documentation. Can present the project to the customer and explain how the product being developed works and what needs to be done.
  • Able to structure a large amount of data. Studies, builds forecasts, conducts research. Discovers relationships using the Tableau Desktop tools, Power BI. He is also able to assess the situation comprehensively, so any business analyst should understand how web analytics and BI systems work, what end-to-end analytics is.
  • Owns the methods of project management. Knows how to best organize the order of actions when performing a task for the best control. Depending on the project conditions and customer requirements, he can choose Kanban, Agile, Scrum, Lean or other flexible methodology.
  • Models business processes. A business analyst draws up process diagrams, applies graphical modeling methods, and draws up flowcharts. To do this, he needs to know special programs, for example, EPC, BPMN systems, IDEF0 and IDEF3 methodologies.
  • Able to work with Excel and its add-ins Power Query, Power Pivot. Knows Python and SQL programming languages. They are required to automate the work with databases.

Why a Company Needs a Business Analyst

A business analyst is able to communicate with each of the project participants in an understandable language: with marketers – on the example of user cases and business benefits, with engineers and product managers – from the point of view of functionality and level of operation of the solution, with IT specialists – through the discussion of the modular architecture of solutions and other nuances.

Based on the listed functions and responsibilities, it is possible to draw conclusions about the situations in which an analyst is needed.

Helps identify business problems and find solutions

If the work in the company does not go well and the management can not understand the reasons, a business analyst comes to the rescue. He immerses himself in business, studies the problem, analyzes the processes. As a result, it offers the customer a solution that will improve the situation or help to achieve the desired goal.

It is difficult to accurately determine the scope of the company’s activities for which a business analyst is needed. It would be more correct to say that the competence of a specialist includes a review of all activities as a whole. He looks for the weak points of the company and tries to turn them into strong ones.

In the process of implementing a new solution, the initial request of the customer-company can be modernized beyond recognition. Sometimes, based on the results of the analysis, a specialist may decide that it is better to leave everything as it is. That is, the business analyst does not try to implement the customer’s tasks by any means. He analyzes possible solutions, determines their relevance and expediency from the point of view of benefit for the company.

Participates in product development and process building

Before the popularization of the profession of an analyst, companies mainly worked according to the “developer – client” scenario. The result of such interaction was often a situation where the company received a product that did not meet expectations. For example, a program that was ideal from the point of view of the development team turned out to be completely incomprehensible to the end user or inconvenient for the customer.

A business analyst helps businesses and developers understand each other. That is, to convey to technical specialists in a language understandable to them, what the customer wants. To do this, he studies the processes and needs of the business, identifies problems, formulates tasks to formulate the right solution that will suit all interested parties.

As a result, the business sees the situation through the eyes of developers and understands how much time and effort it will take to implement solutions. And the developers clearly represent the result that the client wants to get.

Configures and visualizes the necessary reports

At the request of the customer company, the business analyst sets metrics that are important for tracking and control. Collects the necessary data and generates visual reports for the owner of the company or product. Thanks to this visualization, the customer can clearly imagine what is happening in the business or with his product.

When a Business Analyst Is Not Needed

There are several situations where a business analyst invitation will be redundant:

  • the company is small – the required amount of work will not recoup the cost of business intelligence.
  • the company does not have serious problems in the field of efficiency, it is already successfully developing – there is a risk that theoretically attractive recommendations of a business analyst will break the built processes;
  • the scope of the company’s activities is too complex or, conversely, too simple – in the first case, the knowledge of a business analyst may conflict with industry specifics, and in the second they are simply excessive;
  • the company is at the stage of rapid growth and is not yet focused on the effective use of resources – the recommendations of a business analyst can slow down the rapid development of the company.     

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