The competences of a business analyst

Competencies are described as the ability to perform a given activity according to the prescribed standard.

The competences can be divided into three categories

1. Behavioral skills and personal qualities

1.1 Balanced behavior

1.2 Leadership

1.3 Troubleshooting

1.4 Attention to details

1.5 Critical thinking and analytical skills

1.6 Flexibility to manage situations

1.7 Working team

1.8 Influence

1.9 Communication

1.10 Building a relationship

2. Business knowledge

2.1 Finance and economics

2.2 Development of business cases

2.3 Domain knowledge

2.4 Expert

2.5 Principle of IT

2.6 Organizational structure and design

2.7 Purchasing

3. Techniques

3.1 Requirements Engineering

3.2 Stakeholder analysis and management

3.3 Facilitation techniques

3.4 Modeling of business systems

3.5 Modeling of business processes

3.6 Manage business change

3.7 Data modeling

3.8 Research technique

3.9 Project management

3.10 Strategy analysis

1. Behavioral skills and personal qualities

1.1 Balanced behavior

This is a skill to work out what is and what is not commercially acceptable in an organization. Incidentally, having commercial and political awareness emphatically does not mean accepting statue qua. It does mean using ingenuity and being smart to get results, even when there is opposition. Balanced behavior means forcing a problem, but moderate, firm but not arrogant.

1.2 Leadership

There is never one solution to all problems. Leader must have the ability to understand the context of the problem and provide an effective solution.

1.3 Troubleshooting

A business analyst should approach a problem with the view that the problem can be solved. A variation on this is that even if the optimal solution cannot be implemented for financial, technical or political reasons, the business analyst must be pragmatic and willing to find other solutions that deliver at least some benefit.

1.4 Attention to details

Many business cases fail because there is not enough detailed evidence for the proposed change. When a project is handed over to IT specialists, they often find many important problems if the details are not addressed. Having an eye for the details is also an important characteristic of a good business analyst.

1.5 Critical thinking and analytical skills

Business analysts have common sense to identify what data is relevant and what is not relevant and separate vital factors from less important that much critical thinking is achieved through experience and differentiate which factor to focus and what to leave.

1.6 Flexibility to manage the situation

This is an extremely important quality. Business analyst must be confident in himself, in the quality of his analysis and the correctness of his solution, be able to withstand the pressure and maintain his point of view

1.7 Team that works with data

Business analysts often work in teams. An understanding of the role within the team and what needs to be done and appreciation of others’ work style are therefore important to ensure that project objectives are achieved.

1.8 Influence

Influencing requires careful consideration and prior planning. Business analysts need to understand where the other party is in regards to their proposal, the likely resistance and influencing style required to approach the person or group. For example, some managers may postpone all decisions to another group that need information at a very detailed level or only require a high-level summary. Some may be interested in technical details, others have only a vision or a big picture. Tailoring the approach is essential for a successful result. Business analysts are often influenced to take or propose another action. This could involve a new round of influence, facilitate a round table discussion and seek the support of senior colleagues in the best course of action.

1.9 Communication

Communication is the most important skill that man has. It includes building rapport, listening, influencing and creating empathy. Most of the analysis work involves collecting and analyzing data and presenting information that gives a new perspective on the project so that an action can be proposed. If the communication between the bars is not good, it leads to frustration when something is wrong. Communication between colleagues should be in a language and style that they like and avoid what they experience as techno-babble. Business analysts need to adapt their communication to the people they talk to.

1.10 Building a relationship

This is an extension of communication skills and concerns the ability to interact well with people at working, if not social, level. Some people naturally have this ability and others need to work on it. Business analysts should approach people to provide information and share opinions and listen to ideas for change.

2. Business knowledge

2.1 Finance and economics

The universal language of business is finance. A business analyst must have a good working knowledge of the economy and of the basic principles of corporate finance. It includes a general understanding of financial reports such as balance sheet, profit and loss, financial analysis tools such as ratio analysis and costing.

2.2 Development of business cases

Much of the work of analysts will be to assess the costs and benefits of delivering a project to the organization. you must ensure that you have insight into the financial impact on the project. IT is a tool to achieve business benefits. In business analysis projects, other specialists such as management accountants are involved to understand and model business operations and determine how IT can deliver financial benefits. Developing a business case requires a basic understanding of finance along with the Financial Workings business area. Business analysts involved in preparing a business case should understand the basic investment assessment techniques and work closely with the finance department.

2.3 Domain knowledge

It provides a general understanding of a business domain. Apart from the general domain, specific domain knowledge is required for the following reasons;

* It allows you to speak wisely with the business people involved in the project, in a language they can understand.

* It helps you understand what would and would not be acceptable or useful in the business domain.

* It can enable you to get ideas.

2.4 Expert

It takes domain knowledge to a lower level of detail. The level of expertise depends on the type of work being done. Business analysts can specialize in a particular domain, with a strong and detailed understanding of the topic, identify areas for improvement, development, and identify what needs to change, to analyze using existing knowledge and contact. The main point is to assess how well competences meet the needs of the current situation and recognize where competences need some improvement.

2.5 Principle of IT

Many business analysts have no IT background. However, many business analysis projects result in the use of IT in one way or another. A general understanding of the field is necessary for a business analyst to communicate meaningfully with IT professionals. The key requirement is that the business analyst must understand the technical terms used by the IT specialist. Since IT solutions are often explored by business analysts, the latter should understand the basics of IT, including areas such as:

* How computers work, including operating systems, application software, hardware and networks.

* System development life cycle

* System development approaches

* The relative advantages and disadvantages of developing systems and purchasing systems “off the shelf”;

* Trends and new opportunities that IT offers, such as e-commerce, grid computing and mobile technologies and how they influence the development of systems.

2.6 Organizational structure and design

Business analysis projects involve restructuring the organization to a greater or lesser degree to improve customer service. It is important for business analysts to have a good understanding of the different organizational structures that can be found – function, project and matrix and so on – and their relative strength and weakness.

2.7 Purchasing

Most organizations use external suppliers to deliver their IT systems. Selecting an appropriate sourcing strategy involves evaluating the work and deciding on the most appropriate way to continue the project on a healthy commercial term. Once the analyst has worked out the required type, they should assess the most appropriate supplier – internal and external – to move the work forward and what commercial terms to use. A business analyst needs a broad understanding of contractual arrangements, which is presented below:

* Time and materials: where the contracting party is paid based on the time worked.

* Supply at a fixed price: whereby the contractor is paid the price originally agreed for the delivery of a workpiece according to the exact specification.

* Risk and Reward: where the contractor has agreed to bear all or part of the risk of the project, for example by investing resources such as staff time, materials or office space, but with potential rewards greater than under other contractual arrangements.

3. Techniques

3.1 Requirements Engineering

This is the set of practices and processes that lead to the development of the set of knowledgeable business and system requirements from which IT and other solutions are developed.

3.2 Stakeholder analysis and management

This includes understanding who the stakeholders are in a business analysis project and figuring out how best to manage their interests.

3.3 Facilitation techniques

The interpersonal skills required for effective facilitation are usually exhibited in the context of a workshop. Effective facilitation is usually the result of a combination of the right qualities in the facilitator and the choice of the right techniques that fit the task and cultural context of the organization in which it is used.

3.4 Modeling of business systems

Business system modeling is an approach to understanding business systems by creating the conceptual models of those systems.

3.5 Modeling of business processes

A business system model provides an overview of the entire business system, more detailed process models are used to map out and analyze how the business process really works and help identify opportunities for process improvement.

3.6 Manage business change

This includes the techniques required to implement and ‘paste’ changes within the organization.

3.7 Data modeling

Analyzing the data stored and used within a business system provides valuable insights into how a business works. what are the data items kept about the customers? What is the relationship between customers, products and suppliers?

3.8 Research technique

To get to the heart of a business problem, the analyst will need to conduct a detailed analysis of the area.

3.9 Project management

The list of the context and process of project management: scope management, integration management, time management, cost management, quality management, resource management, human management, risk management and procurement management. A business analyst may not necessarily demonstrate his skills in all of these areas, but if the project team is small, the business analyst may assume the role of project manager. There is a certain project skill that an analyst should have.

For e.g. understanding project initiation is vital because it allows the analyst to understand the reference terms for the project. It is important that the analyst understands project management planning approaches – he or she will have to work within a plan – and is aware of particularly relevant aspects, such as quality and risk management

3.10 Strategy analysis

This includes a set of techniques that can be used to understand the business direction and strengths and weaknesses of an organization or part of an organization.

How can I develop my competence?

The first step in developing as a business analyst is understanding the competence that a business analyst requires in your organization. This should include an assessment of both current and future required competencies. The HR department provides a global definition of the competencies that the business analyst needs in the organization. Future competencies are more difficult to assess and depend on factors such as projects that may develop in the future, business issues and technological developments. Organizations may already have a framework in place or use the existing framework, such as Skill Framework for Information Age (SFIA).

There are three ways in which business analysts can develop competencies:

* Education

* Self study

* Work experience

Education

Classroom training allows skills to be learned and practiced in a relatively safe environment, with a trainer on hand for support, guidance and encouragement. Computer-based training is also good if the skills to be practiced are mainly technical in nature.

Self study

Self-study is an excellent way for analysts to increase their business knowledge. In addition to reading textbooks, browsing publications such as the Financial Times, The Economist, the Harvard Business Review, and other technical publications and journals will broaden and deepen the analyst’s understanding of business.

Self-study is an excellent way for analysts to increase their business knowledge. In addition to reading textbooks, browsing publications such as the Financial Times, The Economist, the Harvard Business Review, and other technical publications and journals will broaden and deepen the analyst’s understanding of business.

Work experience

This offers the opportunity to use and improve techniques and to deepen the knowledge. It is the best way in which a business analyst can develop his behavioral skills and personal qualities. Most analysts’ performance improves overtime as their experience grows, but this can be increased and accelerated as ours if the organization has a good coaching or mentoring program.

The Skills Framework for the Information Age

SFIA and SFIAplus are the two main standard frameworks for defining skills and competences in information systems. Both frameworks contain business analysis skills definitions, define different levels of competence for each skill, and can be used as building blocks for any job that requires these skills

SFIA

The description of the general skills in the SFIA business analysis framework is as follows:

At each level defined for business analysis, SFIA provides a more detailed definition of the skills required, for example for Level 4 its states are:

SFIA plus provides the healthy description for business analysis skills like SFIA, as well

provides details on the following:

Related skills (in this case data analysis, business process improvement and system design)

* Technical overview, including typical tools and techniques;

* Overview of training, development and qualification;

* Career and jobs;

* Professional institutions;

* Standard and practice codes;

* Communities and events;

* Publication and resources.

For each applicable level within this skill set (3-6 in the case of business analysis), details are also provided under the following heading:

* Background;

* Work activities;

* Knowledge skills

* Training activities

* Professional development activities

* Qualifications.

While SFIAplus offers more details than SFIA, it is important to realize that the two frameworks must be implemented in different ways.

SFIAplus should be treated as a standard and is not designed to be custom-made as SFIA is intended as a basis for organizational customization.

As a business analyst, this provides a basis for you to measure where you are in relation to the skills and the associated level of competence as defined in the box.

The last step is to identify a set as actions that will aid your development.

* Find assignments that give you opportunities to develop.

* Identify a role model that shows your desired competencies.

* Ask them what is needed or ask them to guide your development or to work directly for them.

* Use training providers to focus specifically on those areas that need development.

* Consider a secondment to an organization that excels in the required competencies.

* Do your research on specific competences

* Request regular feedback from your boss or experts.

* Join an industry specialist group.

* Develop as you go and take advantage of experience. Write down what you have learned so you don’t forget.



Source by Narain Balchandani