Business Analyst Skills (Definition and Examples)
Updated 28 July 2023
Business analysts use hard and soft business analyst skills to understand businesses and develop solutions for them. Understanding the skills business analysts use can help you decide whether you have the aptitude for this role. If you decide to become a business analyst, you will also need to develop and promote your business analyst skills. In this article, we define what business analyst skills are, provide examples of common business analyst skills and explain how to improve and promote yours.
What are business analyst skills?
Business analyst skills are the abilities business analysts need to succeed in their roles. These skills can be hard skills or technical skills learned through formal education or training programs or soft skills, which may be natural skills or skills developed over time. TAFE, university and independent training providers teach business analyst technical skills. Business analysts develop these hard skills and soft skills through experience.
10 examples of business analyst skills
Here are 10 of the most common skills business analyst professionals need to succeed in their careers:
Businesses employ business analysts to assess their operations and solve their operational challenges. It requires keen problem-solving abilities to find solutions that are efficient and economical. Business analysts may use their problem-solving skills while working on solo projects or with a team.
2. Critical thinking
Critical thinking helps business analysts assess business data objectively and thoroughly. Their investigative approach helps them process information from stakeholders and critically assess their requirements to make sure they all add value. The information they learn helps them challenge the assumptions stakeholders make and ensure they're working to address their real business needs. Through critical thinking, business analysts can make the most well-informed and effective decisions for stakeholders.
Stakeholders rely on the creativity of their business analysts to transform their organisations. Business analysts think abstractly to conceptualise how stakeholder requirements can fit together to meet their business needs. Creative business analysts can effectively drive and support innovation for their clients.
4. Business and industry awareness
Business analysts need a deep understanding of their clients' businesses and the industries they operate in. This awareness helps them process the information they receive from stakeholders and develop the most effective solutions. Businesses trust business analysts that are knowledgeable about their companies and the industries they operate in. This trust leads to successful long-term business relationships.
5. Stakeholder engagement and management
Business analysts deal with stakeholders at all levels of business, right up to business owners and chief executive officers. It takes skill to engage and manage relationships with so many different types of people effectively. Business analysts must know whether stakeholders need regular face-to-face meetings or feel supported with email communication, for example. Understanding each stakeholder's needs and satisfying them is essential for ensuring business analysts retain business clients.
Strong communication skills help business analysts gather the information they need about a stakeholder's business and their requirements to complete their projects. They must ask the right questions to learn what they need to know and listen carefully to understand and retain it. They use written communication skills to write clear documents such as use cases and business requirement documents. Strong verbal communication skills help business analysts clearly and confidently present their key findings and recommendations to stakeholders.
7. Computer literacy
Computer literacy is one of the most important technical skills for a business analyst, as it helps them use data analytics tools. Business analysts use data analytics tools such as SQL, Microsoft Excel and Power BI to create effective business analysis reports and data visualisations. It takes good computer literacy to understand how to extract important information from databases and create reports showing key data and metrics. They also know how to use and manipulate data for visualisations that can help them find and present the most effective business solutions.
8. Applying analytical techniques
Successful business analysts have a thorough understanding of analytical techniques and their application. Combining business-level, software-level, and information-level analysis techniques helps them identify information gaps and the impact of proposed changes. They use the information they learn from this thorough analysis to find the right solutions for their clients.
9. Time management
Strong time management skills help business analysts complete projects on time. As business analysts work for many clients at once, they must multi-task and prioritise the most time-sensitive activities. All business analysts must manage their own time, but they may also need to manage the time of other people when relying on colleagues or stakeholders for information.
10. Logical decision making
Business analysts must make logical decisions about many facets of their projects, including which requirements have the highest priority and how viable solutions are. This requires good judgement and decisiveness. Stakeholders can resist change at times, so business analysts should know how they arrived at their decisions and feel confident justifying them.
Ways to improve your business analyst skills
Improving your business analyst skills can help you secure a new business analyst job or advance to more senior business analyst roles. You can improve your business analyst skills in the following ways:
Enrol in a degree program. If you completed a certificate in business analyst, consider studying for a postgraduate degree in business administration, finance or information systems. If you already have a postgraduate degree, a master's degree in business analytics, business administration or information systems can advance your skills.
Read the BABOK Guide. Developed by the International Institute of Business Analysis, the BABOK Guide is the business analysis body of knowledge. Read the guide to expand your knowledge and business analytics skills.
Get certified. While uncertified business analysts can secure work, getting certified is a good way to expand your skills and gain a competitive edge. Consider the Certification of Capability in Business Analysis or Certified Business Analysis Profession, both available through the International Institute of Business Analysis (Australia).
Learn about new business analyst tools. Combining business analyst tools can give you a more complete picture of your client's businesses. You can learn about new business analyst tools through classes or self-directed study.
Read your colleagues' documents. Reading the business documents your colleagues create can teach you how to format your own documents and express your ideas better.
Join a professional business analyst organisation. Professional business analyst organisations such as the International Institute of Business Analysis (Australia) and the Australian Computer Society offer exclusive education and training opportunities for business analysts interested in developing their skills.
Join Toastmasters. Joining Toastmasters is a great way to practise and become more comfortable with public speaking. Developing this skill can make your presentations more engaging and persuasive.
How to highlight your business analyst skills
Highlighting your soft and technical business analyst skills during your job search helps potential employers understand why they should hire you. Consider the most relevant skills for business analyst positions you're applying for and promote them on your job applications and during your job interviews:
How to promote business analyst skills on your job applications
Promote your business analysis skills on your cover letter and throughout your resume to make sure the employer understands why you'd suit the role. Read the job posting and identify two or three business analyst skills required for the vacant position. Explain your experience applying these skills in your cover letter. Prioritise any skills listed as essential criteria.
Your resume should contain information about your complete business analyst skill set. Mention these skills in your resume summary, career history and key skills sections. Your career history section should show how you've applied your business analyst skills and how they helped you attain key achievements. Make sure you include any skills listed as essential and the preferred skills you possess. Adjust your language so it matches the terms in the job posting to make sure your application passes through Application Tracking System software.
How to highlight business analyst skills during job interviews
Your job interview lets you explain your business analyst skills more thoroughly. Identify the business analyst skills you mentioned in your resume and prepare specific examples of times you applied those skills. The best examples come from paid experience working as a business analyst. However, if you are a recent graduate you might discuss experiences at university or work experience. Considering these anecdotes ahead of time helps you answer questions confidently during an interview. Your answers should help the employer see you as a capable candidate worth hiring for their business analyst position.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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