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8 Top Business Analyst Skills You Need to Succeed

By: Andrew Deen

 

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Business analysts help companies make decisions and improve the way that they use their existing assets. It’s a tall order to fill. To get this job done, they rely on a refined set of skills that impact not just their knowledge, but also the way they interact with people.

Below, we look at skills any business analyst should have.

What is a Business Analyst?

To put it simply, business analysts are problem solvers. They go in, take a look at what businesses are doing, and help come up with ways that they could do these things better. Because the job is so subjective to the specifications of the business that the analyst is working with, the exact specifications of their job change from day to day.

However, certain skills will be used virtually every time the business analyst steps up to the plate and does their thing.

Communication

The job of a business analyst is inherently sensitive. On the one hand, the business owner or operator knows that they have room for improvement. That’s why they hired the analyst in the first place. But, like the person asking if they look good in an outfit, they aren’t eager for criticism.

A good business analyst knows how to communicate their observations in a way that is at once sensitive and effective. The business should leave the collaboration with a clear set of ideas on how they can improve their operations. At the same time, they should also enjoy the ride. With good communication skills, business analysts can guarantee both.

It’s also important that the business analyst can translate complicated ideas in easy to understand terms. Some of their observations may be very technical in nature. The people they present the information to won’t necessarily understand all of it. By people able to explain complex ideas in accessible language, the business analyst ensures that they are actually being effective.

Problem Solving

As stated above, everything that a business analyst does boils down to solving problems. A good business analyst is quick on the draw, adapting to whatever situation the business they are servicing finds themselves in.

Part of this flexibility comes from knowledge. They should be well-rounded in a wide range of different business principles. However, it is enhanced with people skills. By being able to collaborate effectively with new departments and individuals, they maximize the impact of their services.

Data

Data implementation is at the heart of modern business operations. Business analysts should be able to apply data to the recommendations that they make. They should also be able to help the companies that they are servicing make themselves more data fluent.

This could mean recommending personnel acquisitions. It could also mean directing them toward programs that will help maximize their efficiency and increase the impact of their sales and marketing efforts.

Negotiation

Negotiation factors in as business analysts find themselves telling higher-ups things they might not want to hear. The analyst should be able to advocate for their own ideas while framing them in a way that does not undermine the business executive’s authority.

The idea is to ensure that their services have the highest possible impact. If this means underemphasizing certain recommendations so that they can really sell the most important ones, so be it.

Tech Awareness

Naturally, a business analyst who is tech illiterate won’t do modern companies much good. While you don’t have to have a background in computer science to do the job, you should know enough to make tech stack recommendations and analyze the efficacy of existing systems.

Financial Awareness

Similarly, business analysts must know enough to understand an organization’s finances. They should be able to make recommendations that help them maximize the effectiveness of their spending, while also advising them away from bad investments and other decisions that could have poor long-term outcomes.

Presentation Value

Finally, presentation value. The best analyst in the world won’t do much good at all if they can’t sell their ideas. Presentation value counts. Good presentations can appeal to everyone in the room. This means weaving in images, sounds, and even physical objects into the presentation to emphasize points.

There are many ways people learn. Appealing to all of these learning categories helps improve the effectiveness of the presentation.

Mastering These Skills

Mastering these skills can be accomplished at least partially with the right education. While there are multiple degree paths that can help someone become an analyst, most come from a business background.

Analysts can specialize in certain areas. For example, if you are interested in tech, or data, you can take classes that are specific to these areas of focus.

Published: July 12, 2022
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Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. Twitter @AndrewDeen14.

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