The Top 10 Skills for a Business Analyst
Business analysis is integral to every organization, regardless of size. At one or more points in time, companies utilize the expertise of a business analyst to facilitate business intelligence and ensure seamless operations. This has led to an increase in the demand for business analysts across different industries.
From business ideation to day-to-day running, a business analyst is saddled with diverse responsibilities that require a combination of technical and non-technical skills to execute. Hence, this article highlights ten in-demand skills you need to possess to be an exceptional business analyst. Let’s get right into it.
1. Financial Analysis and Planning
Finances are one of the pillars of any successful business. Likewise, every business analyst needs to know how to conduct financial analysis and planning. This skill helps you carry out tasks like budgeting and revenue allocation and make decisions that promote the financial health of any business.
You can become proficient in organizational finance by enrolling in professional training programs and learning to use high-end financial software and tools. The right personal financial habits also give you an edge in business financial analysis and planning. Meanwhile, while acquiring this skill, you may also learn how to become a financial analyst, which is an added advantage to your career.
2. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Effective communication is a two-way process involving you and your audience. As a business analyst, you must know how to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience and allow input from them. Be it in written, verbal, non-verbal, or visual forms, formal or informal.
Furthermore, you must know how to interact and relate with people in your workplace, whether you work remotely or on-site. It is important to foster good interpersonal relationships with colleagues, stakeholders, and clients. This helps you ensure a smooth workflow across different departments in the organization.
To harness your communication and interpersonal skills:
- Learn to listen to other parties when communicating and observe their body language and message tone.
- Process your thoughts properly before revealing them.
- Most importantly, maintain a friendly yet professional demeanor when interacting.
Irrespective of rigorous planning, a business’s trajectory is often unpredictable. Consequently, you can be called upon at odd and fair hours as a business analyst to make impromptu or planned decisions. These decisions can have a direct and indirect impact on all aspects of the business, including finance, workforce, and infrastructure.
Hence, it is necessary to have decision-making skills in your arsenal. To develop or improve your decision-making skills, start by building a well of information across diverse fields. Read books, articles, and journals about different aspects of life, your career, and your industry. This helps you gain insights that could be useful for making informed decisions.
4. Critical Thinking
Besides being one of the top soft skills in demand today, critical thinking is the bedrock of decision-making and problem-solving. It helps you assess multiple options before concluding on any area of a business. Likewise, to be an efficient business analyst, you must know how to identify and interpret problems, apply logic, birth ideas, and engineer solutions.
Although acquiring critical thinking skills is a life-long process, you can kick-start the process in several ways. One such way is by asking questions. Learn to question and assess the parameters (possible outcomes and requirements) of every idea or thought before acting upon them.
Furthermore, think broadly. This may sound counter-intuitive, but exercising your brain and mind—whether there is an imminent challenge or not—is a great way to sharpen this skill. In addition, have an open mind and do away with all your biases. This also helps you foster objectivity in business analysis.
5. Technology-Savvy Skills
Technology is an indispensable factor in the modern-day business world. As such, knowing how to integrate and utilize tech in business analysis is a great advantage for your career. Besides, to improve business operations in a fast-paced world like ours, you need knowledge of specific business tech tools, applications, software, and principles.
Some business analytical tools, software, and principles include:
- Microsoft Office
- Microsoft Visio
- Power BI
- Data extraction and analysis
- SQL databases and languages
- Business architecture
- SWOT analysis
6. Documentation and Organization
Documentation is a subset of non-verbal communication that helps you explain complex terms in the simplest form, using elements like texts and images. As a business analyst, you often have access to and prepare documents on different business operations.
Thus, it is imperative to possess documentation and organization skills to help you present information clearly and concisely. Moreover, organized documentation enables you to create a database that can come in handy in the future.
One of the easiest ways to develop documentation and organization skills is to take note of every minute detail within your job jurisdiction. Curate reports on projects from inception to execution, highlighting challenges, solutions, and all activities accompanying them. You can also create a file naming system to ensure proper organization.
7. Commercial Awareness
Commercial awareness involves having a deep understanding of the nooks and crannies of a specific business and industry, including trends and policies. It is an in-demand business analyst skill that helps you to know how best to pivot a business without losing its relevance in its niche industry.
You can generate ideas, spot opportunities, mitigate business threats, and give the company a competitive advantage. To be commercially aware, you must acquaint yourself with industry-related materials, events, platforms, and top players. This will help you stay abreast of happenings in the sector.
One of the many reasons why effective teamwork is important for all organizations is that it increases workplace productivity. You get to achieve more by working with a team of competent people. Similarly, working with different people across various units—remotely or on-site—is essential for succeeding as a business analyst.
You can harness your teamwork skills by prioritizing collaboration over working in silos wherever you find yourself: at work, at home, or in social gatherings. Seek and appreciate the input of others because no one has a monopoly on knowledge. In addition, learn to communicate effectively and respect other people’s differences.
Business analysts are like pacesetters; they set and keep the ball rolling in every business. Most times, your responsibilities put you in a high capacity to oversee business operations and propel organizational changes. Therefore, possessing leadership skills is essential.
Whether you have innate leadership traits or not, you can acquire profound leadership skills as a business analyst. You can start by taking roles that allow you to interact and lead a group of people in your neighborhood, worship center, or peer group.
This helps you develop and improve core leadership qualities, such as empathy, charisma, delegation, and management. In addition, you can take online leadership courses to level up your management skills.
Holding the fort down for any business as a business analyst requires you to orchestrate specific transactions and agreements to keep the business running. This is where your negotiation skills come into play. You must be an excellent negotiator to make deals and create short or long-term partnerships that favor the company and third parties.
To be good at negotiation, you must be familiar with industry tactics and learn to bargain expressly under pressure. You should also learn to listen attentively and remain objective, keeping in mind the company’s priorities. Meanwhile, note that negotiation skills are acquired over time with constant practice.
You can practice negotiation by role-playing with friends and families within your neighborhood or haggling prices outside a corporate environment, such as marketplaces. You can also read the best negotiation books to understand the art of bargaining better.
Be an In-Demand Business Analyst
Business analysts earn handsomely across different sectors. And possessing these skills listed above places you in the cadre of high-earners and highly sought-after business experts.
Meanwhile, to remain an in-demand business analyst, you must keep improving on the necessary skills because building a successful career requires continuous effort. In addition to your skill set, you can leverage several business analyst certifications to level up your career.
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