In my career, of experienced a lot of different style of business analysis, which typically coincides with strengths, experience, and personality. Just like a team of superheroes, each has their own way to solve the same problems, and most can be very effective at doing so. Obviously, this list is based on my own experiences, so I am also kind of excited to see what other types people have come across and I do hope you share!
The Note Taker Business Analyst
The note taker is mostly likely a new business analysts. They are unsure as of yet what constitute good requirements, so you basically write down what people tell you to write down, pretty much exactly how they told you to write it down. You are basically a glorified printer robot. Many new BAs start here, make their mistakes here, hopefully, find some confidence and grow into a more productive kind of business analyst. If you have been a BA for more than a year, you should not still be here, and if you are... well... you probably won't be for long (cause you'll be fired).
The Brick Wall Business Analyst
The brick wall is the PM turned BA who is so afraid of scope creep (because they have been burned in the past) that they have lost focus and forgot that the primary role of the Business Analyst is to help bring value to the business, not make sure the project is on schedule or on budget. This person is the opposite of a "yes man"... They are a "no monster". While managing the scope of releases is important to deliver value, your job is still to figure out how to deliver the most value as possible, not shut down the value adding process. This is where the problem solving and critical thinking skills come in. Despite all that, this type of BA is very useful when dealing with business users who get out of control with requirements and forget that sometimes it is better to deliver some value now instead of all the value in 10 years when we can deliver all the things you could possibly ever want.
The Librarian Business Analyst
This person loves details. Like really loves details and prefers words to diagrams, models, etc. This person's requirements look more like a volume from the encyclopedia than software requirements. They will be dense, they will be thorough, they will probably valid and accurate, but they will also be long and painful to read. Staying awake long enough to get through the requirements document will be the biggest challenge in working with this type of person. This type is great for government contracts because the government loves long, boring, and slightly painful documentation.
The Professor Business Analyst
This person loves to talk, theorize and probably loves using whiteboards. They are academics at heart. This is the type of BA you want when your team is venturing into uncharted territory. They are great at leading brainstorming sessions and are usually pretty passionate about solving problems, however, they have a tendency to have very deep, thought provoking, and sometimes satisfying meetings that accomplish almost nothing. This person often works best in teams with strong PMs or more down to earth BAs to keep them focused. These people tend to venture into solution and enterprise architecture where vision is necessary to make big and effective changes
The Specialist Business Analyst
This person has a specialty that is pretty central to how they choose to do their job and it is usually very evident based on the types of deliverables they spend the most time and effort producing. I have worked with process specialist that document everything using BPMN and everything else revolves around that and I have worked with data specialists that spend a huge amount of time perfecting data models and data flows and everything revolves around that. These folks are the best to learn from because they offer a unique perspective on what's important to the success of a project and how to structure requirements.
I think most people probably fit one category best, but still, have traits that fall into other categories. Personally, I fall somewhere between specialist and professor. I like theory and problem solving (professor), but I understand that spending to much time in theory and hypotheticals means you are not spending enough time getting things done, so when I find myself getting in too deep, I try to dial it back. I am also in school for UX design, so I find myself wanting to organize my requirements like UX deliverables with a heavy focus on the information architecture of the requirements themselves. How about you? Where do you fall, and what types of business analyst have you encountered?