Discover the Top Business Analyst Skills

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the role of a business analyst on a program management team.
  • Summarize the top skills of a business analyst.

Who Can Help Me Reach My Goals?

Sometimes we need help from a specialist to meet our goals. For instance, Ian Lin, the VP of International Sales at Ursa Major Solar, a Southwest-based supplier of solar components and systems, needs to be able to see his team’s quarterly forecast amount. He also needs to be able to adjust the amount for his sales reps in certain cases, like when he has information that suggests an unattainable forecast. 

While this seems like a fairly simple modification that Ian might be able to make on his own, Ian is focused on sales and doesn’t have the cycles to address this need. Not to mention that he doesn’t really know how to set this up. Ian’s request is more complex than it appears on the surface. He needs help from someone who understands not only the technology involved, but also the business processes. He needs someone who can recommend an ideal solution and see it through to fruition. 

Enter the Business Analyst

“Business analysts possessing intellectual curiosity have voracious appetites for learning. They do not shy away from new or unfamiliar concepts but rather try to incorporate those concepts into their understanding. They tend to be very good listeners who absorb information like sponges.” —Steve Blais, PMP

If you completed the Salesforce Business Analyst: Quick Look badge, you learned that business analysts (BAs) are the fix-it people of the business world. Typically, they are members of a project management team and play a significant role in the project lifecycle. Their job is to help enable change in an enterprise. 

The change can be big, like converting an acquired company’s financial system to Salesforce. Or the change can be something small, like enabling sales managers (like Ian Lin) to make forecast adjustments. Or it can be something in between, like improving a business process or solving a current or future business problem. Whatever the scale, if the change involves improving or streamlining a process (business driven) or system (IT driven) to help organizations meet their target goals, a business analyst can steer the project in the right direction. 

Image of two people in front of a computer symbolizing business analysts fixing something

So how do you, as a business analyst, go about doing this? As Steve Blais wrote, business analysts are usually highly curious people who love to learn and who use what they learn to elevate their understanding. This understanding is key to driving a project forward. Business analysts are experts at learning, understanding, and recording needs.

In this module, you learn about the specialized approach that business analysts take to bring about change and improvement to the business. This involves eliciting, analyzing, and documenting information and employing communication strategies to ensure maximum collaboration among the project team. 

Top Skills of the Business Analyst

Let’s start with a high-level view of some of the most important skills that BAs use to work effectively with both people and information to facilitate a solution to a problem. 

Information Discovery

To make informed decisions and recommendations, business analysts need to gather information, lots of information, from all levels. This is one of the most important steps in the business analyst process, so they must do it well.

Analysis and Synthesis

Business analysts spend significant effort looking through the information that they’ve gathered. They look at both the details and the high-level information to chart needs and to develop plans and schedules. They also look at the skills and experience of the people involved to determine how the team can best work together to achieve a successful outcome.

Communication, Collaboration, and Documentation

Business analysts must communicate clearly and efficiently to everyone involved. They need to document and share information so that stakeholders and other involved parties have a clear understanding of the project, the goals, and the proposed solution. BAs help improve overall productivity by breaking down the barriers to communication.

In this unit, you got a high-level look at what a successful business analyst does and some of the skills they use. We explore each of these skills in detail in the next units.

Resources