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A Business Analyst is someone who analyzes an organization (real or hypothetical) and designs its processes and systems, assessing the business model and its integration with technology.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role as "a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals."
The role of a Business Analyst can also be defined as a bridge between the business problems and the technology solutions. Here business problems can be anything about business systems, for example the model, process, or method. The technology solutions can be the use of technology architecture, tools, or software application. So Business Analysts are required to analyze, transform and ultimately resolve the business problems with the help of technology.
There are at least four tiers of business analysis:
The Business Analyst is someone who is a part of the business operation and works with Information Technology to improve the quality of the services being delivered, sometimes assisting in Integration and Testing of new solutions.
The BA may also support the development of training material, participates in the implementation, and provides post-implementation support. This may involve the development of project plans and often requires project management skills.
The BA records requirements in some form of requirements management tool, whether a simple spreadsheet or a complex application. Within the systems development life cycle, the business analyst typically performs a liaison function between the business side of an enterprise and the providers of IT services.
There is no defined way to become a business analyst. Often the BA has a technical background, whether having worked as a programmer or engineer, or completing a Computer Science degree. Others may move into a BA role from a business role – their status as a subject matter expert and their analytical skills make them suitable for the role.
Business analysts may overlap into roles such as project manager or consultant. When focused on specific systems, the term Business Systems Analyst may be used.
A BA does not always work in IT-related projects, as BA skills are often required in marketing and financial roles as well.
Over time, expectations of the skills and expertise from a BA are taking a more structured form. A growing number of traditional educational establishments (like universities) have now started offering formal BA certifications.
The International Institute of Business Analysis offers a couple of certifications –
Other certifications currently on offer include –
Advice for similar other programs might be found Online. For example, Open Universities Australia has a Career Advice page for Business Analysts (ICT).
IIBA is also working to facilitiate development of professional courses by partnering with academic institutions under its Recognition Programs.
Although it's still not common for employers to ask for formal BA certifications, individuals who aspire to have a rewarding career in BA may consider gaining specialised skills. Relevant, Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI) highlights on its webpage that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of business analysis jobs is predicted to increase 19 percent by 2022. Accordingly, it predicts there would be "a growing need for professionals skilled in effective requirements management."
Also of relevant importance, in certain industry—for example, Finance or Health—employers ask for specific industry-related expertise or certifications. And, certain technical expertise such as knowledge of SQL or Project/Program Management (PRINCE2, PMP) are often asked for, too.
BAs work in different industries such as finance, banking, insurance, telecoms, utilities, software services and so on. Due to working on projects at a fairly high level of abstraction, BAs can switch between industries.
The business domain subject areas BAs may work in include workflow, billing, mediation, provisioning and customer relationship management. The telecom industry has mapped these functional areas in their Telecommunications Operational Map (eTOM) model, Banking in the Information Framework (IFW) and Emergency agencies in the Prevention Preparation Response and Recovery model (PPRR).
Finally, Business Analysts do not have a predefined and fixed role, as they can take a shape in operations scaling, sales planning, strategy devising or even in developmental process.