A career as a business analyst, or BA, can be rewarding – it can involve some technical areas that information technology professionals are known for, and can involve communicating and working with other people outside the information technology industry which can be great as well. Find out more about how to become a BA in this post. There Isn’t Really A Set Business Analyst Career Path I feel I should point this out straight away. There isn’t really a set path to becoming a business analyst. There aren’t any (that I know of) degrees in becoming a BA. Sure, there may be junior business analyst roles out there, but you still need some knowledge and ideally some experience to be able to be a successful business analyst. If you are interested, click Business. If you speak to business analysts you know through work or other connections, you might find that they commenced in one of two methods: - Commenced in a technical role (e.g. development) and moved into business analysis - Started in a business role (e.g. a business user or manager) and transitioned into business analysis When I started as a BA, I was originally a software developer that moved into a more analysis role. This doesn’t always need to be the case – you might work in networking or testing and make a similar move. I would think that most of my readers, who are IT professionals, would make the move from technical to BA, rather than from business user to BA. How To Move From Development Into Business Analyst Ok, so assuming you’re in a programming position (or a similar IT role, such as testing, networking, support, etc), and you're interested to move into business analysis. What do you need to know? What are your biggest questions and what should you start with? Well, the role of a business analyst, as mentioned in a recent article, is to determine business requirements to solve a business need, and turn them into technical details that the information technology teams can work with. You may have done this before, from the information technology side, or you might not have. No problem if you haven’t. You should aim to develop the skills you need for a business analysis role, such as: - Communication skills (talking to people, asking questions, phone calls) - Determining requirements based on talks with users - Developing documents that can be understood by business users - Industry knowledge Communication Skills for a Business Analyst A important part of a business analyst’s role is communication. They would spend a lot of time speaking with clients, team members, project managers, team leaders and other stakeholders for a project. Communication skills improve with time, but it’s a good idea to practice yours, work on them, determine what your weaknesses are and improve on them as well. Areas such as listening, asking the correct questions, speaking to people on the phone, group discussions and negotiation all form a part of the communication skills that you’ll need. Requirements Gathering Is An Important Skill Discovering how to gather requirements is a skill you’ll need to learn if you want to become a business analyst. Being able to speak with users, determine what their concerns are with current processes, and document them in a way they can be matched to a requirement of a system is a skill that takes practice and experience. Basically, a requirement, or business requirement, is a thing that a software or system needs to be able to do to achieve what it is being built for. For example, I’m writing this post in Microsoft Word – one of the requirements for building that software is that it needs to save files in a certain format. If it couldn’t save files, it wouldn’t be a successful application. Determining priority of requirements is needed as well – this would be found from the users that you talk to. To use the Microsoft Word example again, the Spell check feature is a requirement, but possibly not a high priority one – the program will still operate without it. Industry Knowledge Is Great For Business Analysis Knowledge of the industry that you work in is a good way to help your business analysis career. Sure, building an information technology system may just involve getting requirements and making something from them, but to get those requirements it helps to know about the industry that the business is in. If the company is in the finance field, and if you have knowledge of bank transactions and loan processes, it could come in handy for determining requirements. Users have this knowledge, where information technology people don’t usually know a lot about the industries if they’re beginning as a business analyst. It will help you get higher quality, more correct requirements and improve the overall quality of the result. In summary, if you’re in an information technology role and searching for how to become a business analyst, I think that improving the skills that business analysts need, (such as communication, requirements gathering and industry knowledge) will be a great way to step into a career as a business analyst. For more info, visit this link.