In the past Business Analysis was merely gathering requirements for software projects; Now, BA’s are frequently involved in, and sometimes lead, large scale business transformation, and those roles require very different skills.
At the BA Conference 2011, I compared the skills that BAs have today and how they overlap with those of Business Change and Business Improvement specialists. The feedback I received on ‘Business Analysis - a coat of many colours’ suggests this chimed with many of you, and that Business Analysis skills are now evolving outside of software development and into the realms of business transformation.
So what are those skills? - I think we mean the ability to look through the fog and assimilate the picture in a clear and concise way. To explain the obvious through simple models, and get to the core of the problem. In nearly all my BA jobs I have found this to be the simplest yet most critical skill. Whether it’s using hand drawn rich pictures to bring simplicity and clarity to a complex problem, or Lean methods to describe the flaws in business processes so they can be improved. It is the ability to select and apply the most appropriate technique that is the real skill.
And we can’t forget experience, and I don’t just mean years served here. I mean experience of working as a BA in a variety of contexts, experiencing different kinds of problems, people or complicating factors, and managing to succeed in each.
So, in conclusion, there isn’t a simple list of skills to tick off to be a successful BA for business transformation projects. Of course mastery of the underlying business analysis techniques and skills is essential. But you will also need professional and people skills coupled with experience, and these together will give you the gravitas that provides the justification to trust the BA with the most strategically significant projects.
Would be interested to know what others think?
About the author
Lynda is an accomplished Business Analyst with over 20 years’ experience in public sector and defence in both the UK and Australia. She has wide ranging experience in IT enabled business and is passionate about developing the next generation of business analysts; she is a BCS examiner, teaches Business Analysis training courses and has spoken at numerous conferences on the subject.