In today’s cutthroat economies and resource-tight landscapes, virtually every business owner spends a lot of time (and usually stress) trying to unlock the secrets to sustainable growth, positive ROI, and successful business decisions.
From consultants and firms to fancy software’s to robust information products, countless offerings available today promise that they’ll make meaningful improvements to a business’s bottom line. But what will actually move the needle?
Businesses and companies that have staffing flexibilities have to decide where to invest resources for significant returns. Especially in the areas of analytical evaluations and better strategic decision-making, hiring a business analyst can often prove a strong and sometimes vital investment that can outpace other similarly priced options in terms of lifetime value-add.
Consider the following about business analysts and weigh whether hiring one may be the next strategic step for your entity.
What Types of Business Analysts Exist
Though they exist under a single umbrella title, business analysts can actually come in a large range of varieties and specialties. This means that there is likely a way to craft a business analyst position to exactly target the industry, skill set, and role type from which your company or business could most benefit.
Data Managers are business analysts that specialize in the infrastructure, software, and information technology (IT) aspects of collecting, storing, and analyzing business data. Job titles within this area of business analytics could include Computer and Information Research Analyst or Database Administrator. This is the direction your business might want to take if your work involves heavy computing and you need someone with experience in setting up and maintaining large data management systems.
Business Intelligence Analysts focus on transforming pre-existing data into usable insights and strategic decision-making. Their roles do not usually center on the data procurement and storage processes themselves, but rather the process of turning that data into insights. Examples include Financial Analysts, who research and predict either external or internal financial trends and happenings. They might also look like Market Research Analysts, who (predictably) are responsible for analyzing competitors and consumer market segments to glean insights that can help determine your own business’s direction or priorities.
And finally, the roles of Business System Analysts (or IT Business Analysts) fit somewhere in between the previous two families of business analyst jobs. Operations Research Analysts, for instance, analyze internal processes and audit data delivery or manipulation systems to help a business’s processes run smoothly and effectively. Computer and Information Systems Managers might manage digital, networking, and data components of a business but also may need to have a broader understanding of other types of business processes and how those distinct systems all fit together.
How a Business Analyst Can Help Your Business
Depending on the type of business or industry you operate in, it might still be unclear as to how a business analyst can aid your business and add to your bottom line. Here are the core functions business analysts usually perform and how they contribute to a business’s internal performance and ecosystem.
Building and Maintaining Data Systems
As mentioned above, some business analysts specialize in the IT, networking, and software required to create and operate data collection platforms. If your company does not already have an IT department and an established data management system, a Business System or IT Business Analyst could be the person for your company.
Performing Data Analysis
Today’s world runs on information. The extensive, comprehensive infrastructures available today to collect staggering amounts of data means that your business or company likely doesn’t have a problem amassing large amounts of information. The challenge for today’s business owners is knowing what to do with that data and how to apply it effectively to their companies’ growth and wellbeing.
Data analysis can look wildly different from industry to industry. Retail business data engines need to perform very different functions than one in a manufacturing business, for instance. But at its core, most varieties of data analysis are meant to achieve the same basic thing: translate mountains of records into insights that are meaningful and applicable.
Applying Analysis to Strategic Decision-making
The puzzle doesn’t end with producing a summary report. The final piece of the process needs to convert those data learnings into actionable business decisions. Business analysts are equipped to effectively perform this part of the process as well.
Tips for Hiring a Business Analyst
If you are interested in adding a business analyst to your business or team, here are a few tips to help you begin your search.
Think Through What You need
Obviously, business analysts come in different varieties. Their skill sets can vary and may look very different from each other. This is good for you because it means you can hire for your specific needs. However, it is important to think through what those needs are before engaging with the hiring process.
Which of the core areas listed above are most important for your business? Which is currently the weakest part of your system? Are there areas of common data collection, storage, and analysis processes that are not yet implemented at all? Will you be hiring someone to build new systems or maintain existing ones? Who on your team or in your company should you consult or involve in the hiring process to make sure you pick the right business analyst for your needs?
Work with Universities
If you have access to local universities or colleges that offer data management or business analyst degree programs, this can be an excellent resource for sourcing new graduates or other viable leads for hiring. This can be particularly effective if you look for analysts on a regular basis.
Start with a Contractor
If you’re not yet sure whether there is room in your business or your bottom line for an employee add, benefitting from a business analyst doesn’t require a hire. Try working with a business analyst in a short-term capacity or on a fixed rate project. This will give you a helpful feel for what it might be like to have an analyst in a more permanent capacity down the road.
If you’re in business, you know how vital good help and competent team members can be to advancing your company. Hiring business analysts can be a hugely beneficial way of achieving that.