What it REALLY Takes to Be A Business Analyst (It’s A Bit Overwhelming)

If you have already studied the BABOK whether for certification or just to be a more kick ass business analyst, than you already know that in reality, business analysis isn't really a skill set in and of itself. In truth, a business analyst has to kind of be a lot of things all at once, which can be good and bad.

Good, because your exposed to all kinds of different stuff that if you feel passionate about you can pursue as a specialty

Bad, because you have to be kinda proficient in a bunch of stuff.


So now your like, okay... what is it I'm supposed to be good at. Well in turns out, that the BABOK actually spells it out for us. That particular body of knowledge draws from a bunch of different sources (they say so in chapter 1) and the list pretty much spells out all the different areas that a BA should seek out training, experience, and knowledge. Most of these definitions came from Wikipedia, so take it up with them if you don't like them. 

(Most of the summaries are from Wikipedia.org)

  • Agile Development

    • Group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
  • Business Intelligence

    •  set of theories, methodologies, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business purposes. 
  • Business Process Management

    • referred to as a "holistic management" approach to aligning an organization's business processes with the wants and needs of clients. BPM uses a systematic approach in an attempt to continuously improve business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology
  • Business Rules

    • describe the operations, definitions and constraints that apply to an organization. Business rules can apply to people, processes, corporate behavior and computing systems in an organization, and are put in place to help the organization achieve its goals.
  • Decision Analysis and Game Theory

    • The discipline comprising the philosophy, theory, methodology, and professional practice necessary to address important decisions in a formal manner. 
  • Enterprise Architecture (including the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture™ and TOGAF™)

    • A well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a holistic approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise Architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies
  • Governance and Compliance Frameworks, including Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II, and other

  • IT Service Management (including ITIL®)

    • A set of practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business. 
  • Lean and Six Sigma

    • Managerial concept combining Lean and Six Sigma that results in the elimination of the eight kinds of wastes (classified as Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Extra-Processing) and an improved capability of performance
  • Organizational Change Management

    • An approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state
  • Project Management

    • ​the process and activity of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals.
  • Service Oriented Architecture

    • ​a software design and software architecture design pattern based on discrete pieces of software providing application functionality as services to other applications
  • Software Engineering (particularly Requirements Engineering)

    • ​The process of formulating, documenting and maintaining software requirements
  • Software Process Improvement (including CMMI®)

    • Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process improvement training and appraisal program and service administered and marketed by Carnegie Mellon University
  • Software Quality Assurance

    • ​Consists of a means of monitoring the software engineering processes and methods used to ensure quality.The methods by which this is accomplished are many and varied, and may include ensuring conformance to one or more standards, such as ISO 9000 or a model such as CMMI
  • Strategic Planning

    • an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.
  • Usability and User Experience Design

    • Any aspect of a person's interaction with a given IT system, including the interface, graphics, industrial design, physical interaction, and the manual 
    • MetaBA User Experience Analyst Summary

​If you are looking at this list, and you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, I find that particular subject exciting and interesting" than you might have just found something worth taking the time to specialize in. If you looked at the list and thought to yourself "Wow, I have no idea what most of those are." Than its probably about time for you to start doing some reading. Like right now!

3 thoughts on “What it REALLY Takes to Be A Business Analyst (It’s A Bit Overwhelming)”

  1. Great article. I feel like a jack of ALL trades and master of none. I went from a Reporting Analyst to Marketing Analyst to System Analyst to ProjectLead/Business Analyst to Product Manager for Salesforce.com to Sr. Business Analyst and pending a new role as a Jr. Program Manager. Now this spans over about 10-12 years of my career at various companies, but it never stops. I feel like I have worked across every business unit from sales, operations, product, marketing, risk mgmt, and finance. I call myself a functional BA and love problem solving using BPM. It’s amazing how this article is dead on….

  2. The job, to me, is exciting and I combined my background as a College Instructor (formal training and degree in Education, as well as 15 years experience) with a vast and wide IT knowledge as listed above.  Being a Business Systems Analyst is challenges all aspects of my knowledge, training, experience, creativity, logic, and more.  It's what keeps me going back every day.

    This is a pretty extensive list; however, it doesn't address the biggest part of the job and that is working with people.  Having all of the skills listed in the BABOK book as listed above is a good start…  I provide some additional insight into what it takes to be an amazing business systems analyst in my weekly Blog.  Check it out:  http://www.amazingbusinesssystemsanalyst.net  I have some recommendations for books to read and practice to understand working with people, negotiation and conflict resolution. 


    1. Sherrine, 

      You are absolutely right. A business analyst without the soft skills (verbal communication, written communcations, interpersonal skills, etc) would not be very effective. This list comes from the BABOK as where many of the concept for the BABOK might have come from. They certainly do address the compentencies a BA should have. I allude to those same comeptencies in the articles related to BA cross training here http://www.metabusinessanalyst.com/business-analysis-cross-training/ 

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