How To Become A Business Analyst or BA

I feel I should highlight this straight away. There isn't actually a set path to becoming a business analyst. There aren't any (that I know of) degrees in becoming a BA. Sure, there may be introductory business analyst roles out there, but you still need some knowledge and probably some experience to be able to be a successful business analyst.

If you speak to business analysts you know through work or other connections, you'll probably find that they began in one of two methods:

- Started in a technical role (e.g. development) and moved into business analysis

- Commenced in a business role (e.g. a business user or manager) and moved into business analysis

When I began as a BA, I was originally a software developer that moved into a more analysis role. This doesn't always need to be the case – you could work in support or testing and make a similar move. I would think that most of my readers, who are IT professionals, would make the move from technical to BA, rather than from business user to BA.

How To Move From Development Into Business Analyst

OK, so assuming you're in a programming position (or a similar IT role, such as testing, networking, support, etc), and you're interested to move into business analysis. What do you need to know? What are your biggest questions and what should you do first?

Well, the role of a BA, as mentioned in a recent article, is to determine business requirements to solve a business need, and turn them into technical details that the IT teams can work with. You may have been exposed to this before, from the IT side, or you might not have. No problem if you haven't.

You should look to improve the skills you need for a business analysis role, such as:

- Communication skills (speaking with people, asking questions, phone calls)

- Determining requirements based on talks with users

- Creating documents that can be understood by business users

- Industry knowledge

Communication Skills for a Business Analyst

A important part of a business analyst's role is communication. They would spend a significant amount of time speaking with clients, team members, project managers, team leaders and other stakeholders for a project. Communication skills improve with time, but it's a good idea to practice yours, work on them, determine what your weaknesses are and improve on them as well. Areas such as listening, asking the correct questions, speaking to people on the phone, group discussions and negotiation all form a part of the communication skills that you'll need.

Requirements Gathering Is An Important Skill

Learning how to gather requirements is a skill you'll need to be aware of if you want to become a business analyst. Being able to speak with users, determine what their issues are with current processes, and document them in a way they can be matched to a requirement of a system is a skill that takes practice and experience.

Essentially, a requirement, or business requirement, is something that a software or system needs to be able to do to achieve what it is being built for. For example, I'm writing this post in Microsoft Word – one of the requirements for building that software is that it needs to save files in a certain format. If it couldn't save files, it wouldn't be a successful application.

Determining priority of requirements is important as well – this would be retrieved from the users that you talk to. To use the Microsoft Word example again, the Spell check function is a requirement, but possibly not a high priority one – the program will still function without it.

Industry Knowledge Is Great For Business Analysis

Knowledge of the industry that you work in is a great way to help your business analysis career. Sure, building an IT system may just mean getting requirements and making something from them, but to get those requirements it helps to know about the field that the company is in. If the organization is in the finance industry, and if you have knowledge of bank transactions and loan processes, it could be useful for determining requirements. Users have this experience, where information technology people don't usually know a lot about the industries if they're beginning as a business analyst. It will help you get higher quality, more accurate requirements and improve the overall quality of the result.

In summary, if you're in an IT role and searching for how to become a business analyst, I think that improving the skills that business analysts need, (such as communication, requirements gathering and industry knowledge) will be a good way to step into a career as a business analyst.

* Contact Author Complete IT Professional For more tips and information on how YOU can become a better IT professional, visit Complete IT Professional