A Business Analyst (BA) is not too different from a data analyst. Business Analyst need to read and interpret volumes of data to compile insights, appraise solutions, and measure KPIs.
However, BAs also need to understand business metrics on top of technical processes. They must be reasonably fluent in the jargon of both business and tech developers. In many ways, a BA is a “translator” between business and technology. As such, being a business analyst is largely seen as more complex than most operational jobs but less specialised than most technical jobs.
By using data and business familiarity, a BA is able to balance between what is technologically feasible against what is financially and functionally reasonable. In doing so, a BA is well-equipped to support management in recommending changes in terms of IT processes, organisational structures, or staff development.
How can a Business Analyst Help in Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is a critical process for businesses to achieve greater value, agility, and competitive advantage through the use of technology. Digital transformation can be complex because it can change the ways that a business will function and engage with its customers, employees, suppliers and other key stakeholders.
BAs are useful in digital transformation because their job involves deciphering requirements through research, interviews and analysis. They use those requirements to persuade management and developers to work towards an agreed direction.
Here are 5 ways that BAs can help in this transformation:
1 – Analyse business opportunities
Business Analysts can analyse whether potential business opportunities are financially practical choices for a department by using data trends and case studies. They often consider the profit margins of the opportunities, the person or entity offering it, how it might affect their work practices and how management should best pursue the new opportunities.
2 – Research marketing prospects
If there is a niche in which a business wants to expand, a Business Analyst researches the niche, its audience and determines how the business can excel in that area. They also research a department’s current marketing efforts using historical data to determine whether they should make any changes to improve efficiency or effectiveness.
3 – Design new products or features
These professionals can assist in the design of new products by providing an evaluation of the features based on customer data. Business Analysts can act as the bridge between designers, programmers and management to ease communications and reduce misunderstandings.
4 – Support implementation of new processes
When a department adopts new production methods, processes or goals, a Business Analyst can advise on cost-effective methods to help the transition and can support the transition pipeline by creating diagrams and step-by-step descriptions.
5 – Organise data for management
Business Analysts can compile important business data in an organised and easy-to-read format to help management make beneficial changes. This can include customer feedback, financial reports, reviews, output rates, gains and losses, and company policies.
Skills Required for a Business Analyst
Like many job positions related to IT, there is no single path to becoming a Business Analyst.
It is beneficial to have qualifications in computer science, process engineering or economics, but significant experience in analytical fields can be equally if not more important.
BAs must be able to perform multiple duties across different knowledge domains and hierarchies. It can be difficult for an inexperienced or fresh employee to speak and handle people of authority. Hence BAs need to have some level of maturity and a strong skill set that includes technical and non-technical skills.
Here are some skills expected from a Business Analyst:
Hard Data Skills: These skills include calculating statistics, cleaning quantities of data, modelling data points, knowing multiple programming languages and having a decent knowledge of IT mechanisms.
Problem-solving Skills: It is a Business Analyst’s primary responsibility to come up with solutions to problems. They must be open to experiences and willing to experiment but also organised and practical.
Critical Thinking Skills: A Business Analyst must analyze and translate product requirements distinctly. Critical thinking helps a Business Analyst in assessing multiple options before arriving at the aspired solution.
Communication Skills: Business Analysts should be able to explain difficult concepts to different stakeholders in a concise and relevant manner. They need to manage relationships across departments and be aware of many moving parts.
Why is It Better to Externally Hire a Business Analyst?
It is difficult to convert a veteran employee who has become comfortable with their operational or business roles to take on the duty of Business Analyst. While such an employee may have accumulated years of experience, they may not have the courage to challenge management and other endorsed requirements. Like contracted consultants, it can be more effective for a Business Analyst to come from outside of the organisation to question established processes and confront authority honestly.
Due to the duties and responsibilities of a Business Analyst, you could consider hiring a Fractional Business Analyst. This means the Business Analyst is hired on a need-to-have basis with a fee rate for specific projects. This provides some flexibility to scale up or scale down services depending on progress without committing to long-term employment contracts. This is useful if your core business does not require constantly analysing data.
In almost every phase of the digital transformation process, numerous complicated and unforeseen obstacles can make themselves known. Having a Business Analyst with the right skills can help to reveal blind spots and increase the chances of success for your digital transformation projects.