A Business Analyst’s Competencies

Competencies can be described as the ability or inability to perform a certain activity according to a specified standard.

Three categories can be used to classify the competencies

1. Personal Qualities and Behaviour Skills
1.1 A balanced behavior
1.2 Leadership
1.3 Problem Solving
1.4 Pay Attention to the Details
1.5 Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
1.6 Flexibility to Manage Situations
1.7 Team working
1.8 Influencing
1.9 Communication
1.10 Relationship-Building

2. Business Knowledge
2.1 Finance & Economy
2.2 Business Case Development
Domain Knowledge
2.4 Subject Matter Expert
2. The Principles of IT
2.6 Organization Design and Structure
2.7 Procurement

3. Techniques
Engineering Requirements
3.2 Management and analysis of stakeholder groups
3.3 Facilitation Techniques
3.4 Business System Modelling
3.5 Business Process Modelling
3.6 How to manage business change
3.7 Data modeling
3.8 Investigation Technique
3.9 Project management
3.10 Strategy Analysis

1. Behavior Skill and Personal Qualities

1.1 Balanced Behavior
This refers to the ability to determine what is and is not acceptable commercially in an organization. It does not necessarily mean that you should accept statue qua. It means being resourceful and astute in order to achieve results, regardless of opposition. A balanced behavior means that you force a problem but are not too firm or arrogant.

1.2 Leadership
There is no single solution to every problem. The leader should be able understand the problem context and propose an effective solution.

1.3 Problem solving
An analyst must approach a problem with the belief that it can be solved. This is a variation of the above. A business analyst should approach a problem with the outlook that the best solution can be found.

1.4 Pay attention to details
Business cases that lack sufficient detail often fail due to insufficient evidence. IT specialists often discover important problems when a project is given to them. Good business analysts must have an eye for detail.

1.5Critical Thinking, Analytical Skill
Business analysts have the ability to discern what data is relevant and irrelevant, and to separate important factors from less vital. This critical thinking can be achieved through experience.

Flexibility to adapt to changing situations
This is an essential quality. This is an essential quality for business analysts. They must be confident in themselves, their analysis, and their solution. They need to be able and willing to endure pressure and maintain their point of view.

1.7 A team working with data
Business analysts often work in groups. It is important to understand the role of each member of the team, what they need to do, and appreciate the different working styles of others to achieve the project goals.

1.8 Influencing
It takes careful planning and consideration to influence others. Business analysts need to understand the position of the other party on their proposal and the likelihood of resistance. They also need to know how to influence the person or group. Some managers may ask for very specific information or defer decisions to another group. While some may be more interested in technical details, others might prefer vision or the big picture. For a successful outcome, it is crucial to customize the approach. Many business analysts can be influenced to recommend or take another course. This might involve another round of influence, facilitation of a roundtable conversation and seeking support from senior colleagues for the best course.

1.9 Communication
Communication is the most important skill a human can have. This includes building relationships, listening, influencing, and creating empathy. Analyzing data is the most common type of analysis. This involves gathering and analysing data, and then presenting new perspectives on the project to help you decide what course of action to take. It can cause frustration when staff fail to communicate well. Communicating with business colleagues should be done in a language and style they can understand and not use technobabble. Business analysts need to adjust their communication style to be in sync with the people they’re talking to.

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1.10 Relationship Building
This skill is an extension to communication and refers to the ability of people to get along with others at a social or working level. Some people have this ability by nature, while others need to learn it. Business analysts must communicate with people to get information, share opinions and listen for ideas to improve the business.

2. Business Knowledge

2.1 Finance & Economy
Finance is the universal language of business. Business analysts need to be able to understand the basics of finance and the economy. This includes an understanding of financial reports like balance sheet, profit and loss account, financial analysis tools, such as ratio analysis, costing principles, and other financial information.

2.2 Business Case Development
Analysts will spend a lot of their time assessing the benefits and costs of delivering a project. It is important to communicate your findings with an understanding of the financial implications of the project. IT can be an enabler for business benefits. Other specialists such as management accountants are involved in business analysis projects. They help to model and understand the business and identify how IT can bring financial benefits. It is important to have a good understanding of finance in order to create a business case. Business analysts who are involved in the preparation of business cases must be familiar with basic investment appraisal techniques. They should also work closely with finance departments.

Domain Knowledge
This provides a general understanding of the business domain. Specific domain knowledge is needed for the following reasons:
* It enables you to talk sensibly with the business people involved in the project, in a language that they can understand.
* It helps you to understand what would and would not acceptable or useful in the business domain.
* It may enable you take ideas.

2.4 Subject Matter Expert
Domain knowledge is reduced to a lesser level. The type of work is what determines the level of expertise. Business analysts can be specialists in one area. This means that they have a solid understanding of the subject and can point out areas for improvement, development, and change. The important thing is to evaluate how competencies match the current situation and recognize areas that need improvement.

2. The Principles of IT
Many business analysts don’t have IT backgrounds. Many business analysis projects involve the use of IT in one way or another. A business analyst should have a basic understanding of the subject so that he can communicate effectively with IT specialists. The business analyst should be familiar with IT basics, as they are often involved in the investigation of IT solutions.

* How computers work, including operating systems, application software, hardware and networks.
* System -development lifecycle
* System – development approaches
* The Relative pros and cons of developing systems and buying system “off the shelf’;
* Trends and new opportunities that IT brings, such as ecommerce, grid computing and mobile technologies and how these impact systems development.

2.6 Organization Design and Structure
Business analysis projects include restructuring an organization in order to improve customer service. Business analysts must have a solid understanding of all possible organizational structures (function, project, matrix, etc.) and their relative strengths and limitations.

2.7 Procurement
External suppliers are used by most organizations to deliver their IT systems. The first step in selecting the right sourcing strategy is to assess the work and decide the best way forward. After the analyst has identified the type of work that is needed, they will need to evaluate the best supplier (internal and external) to help move the work forward. Then, they will need to decide what commercial terms must be used. This is a list of common contractual terms that business analysts need to be familiar with.
* Time and Materials: where the contracted party is paid on the basis of the time worked.
* Fixed -price delivery: where the contracted party is paid the price that originally agreed for the delivery of a piece of work according to the precise specification.
* Risk and reward: where the contracted party has agreed to bear some or all of the risk of the project ,for example by investing resources such as staff time , materials or office space, but where potential rewards are greater than under other contractual arrangements.

3. Techniques

Engineering Requirements
This is the collection of processes and practices that leads to the development and implementation of well-informed system and business requirements. From which IT and other solutions can be developed.

3.2 Management and analysis of stakeholder groups
This involves understanding the stakeholder group in a business analysis project, and working out how to best manage their interests.

3.3 Facilitation Techniques
Facilitation requires interpersonal skills. Workshops are a great place to practice these skills. Facilitation can be achieved through the combination of the right qualities and the use of the right techniques.

3.4 Business System Modelling
Business System Modeling refers to a method of understanding business systems through the creation and maintenance of conceptual models.

3.5 Business Process Modelling
Business system models look at the entire system from top to bottom. However, detailed process models help to analyze and map how the business works. This helps identify areas for improvement.

3.6 How to manage business change
These are the methods that can be used to make organizational changes’stick’.

3.7 Data modeling
Analyzing data used in a business system provides valuable insight into the business’s operations. What data are stored about customers? What is the relationship between suppliers, customers, and products?

3.8 Investigation Technique
Analysts will need to conduct detailed analysis to determine the root cause of any business problem.

3.9 Project management
Project management context and processes include scope management, integration management cost management quality management resource management human management risk management procurement management management. While a business analyst may not have all the skills necessary, there are some essential project skills that every analyst should possess.

For example, For example,

3.10 Strategy Analysis
This article outlines a number of techniques that can be used in order to understand the business direction as well as the strengths and weaknesses of an individual or a portion of an organization.

What can I do to improve my competence?
To become a successful business analyst, the first step is to identify the business analyst competency requirements in your company. The assessment should include a review of both current and future competencies. HR provides an outline of the competencies that are required for business analysts in an organization. Future competencies are harder to assess as they depend on future business issues, technological developments and new projects. They may have an existing framework or they could use it, such as the Skill Framework for Information Age (SFIA).

There are three methods business analysts can learn competencies:
* Training
* Self-study
* Work experience

Training in class rooms allows for skills to be learned and practiced within a safe environment with guidance and support from a trained instructor. If the skills that are to be learned are mostly technical, then computer-based training may be an option.

An excellent way to increase your business knowledge is self-study. In addition to reading business books, analysts can also browse publications such as The Economist and Harvard Business Review. This will help them gain a deeper understanding of the business world.
An excellent way to increase your business knowledge is self-study. In addition to reading business books, analysts can also browse publications like The Economist and Harvard Business Review. This will help them gain a deeper understanding of the business world.

Work experience
This gives the opportunity to improve and use techniques as well as to gain knowledge. Analysts’ performance improves over time, but it can be increased and accelerated if there is a coaching or mentoring program.

The Skills Framework for the Information Age
SFIAplus is the major framework for defining skills and competencies in information system fields. These frameworks provide a definition of the skill set for business analysis and define different levels of competency for each skill. They can also be used to build blocks for any job that requires these skills.

Here is a description of the overall skills set that SFIA Framework for Business Analysis provides:
SFIA gives a more detailed description of the skills required at each level for business analysis. Level 4 states:

SFIA plus is the equivalent of SFIA for business analysis skills.
This page contains details about the following:

Related skills set (in this example, data analysis business processes improvement and system designing)

* Technical Overview, including typical tools and techniques;
* Overview of training, development and qualification;
* Careers and jobs ;
* Professional bodies;
* Standard and codes of practice;
* Communities and events ;
* Publication and resource.

The following heading provides details for each level of this skill set (3-6 in case of business analysis).

* Background;
* Work activities ;
* Knowledge /skills
* Training activities
* Professional development activities
* Qualifications.

SFIAplus is more detailed than SFIA but it is important that both frameworks be used in different ways.

SFIAplus should not be considered a standard. It is not intended to be customized. SFIA, however, is meant to be used to tailor an organization’s SFIA.

SFIAplus helps organizations benchmark their IT skills and then train and develop their staff to meet those requirements.

Next, identify the set of actions that will support your development.

* Seek out assignments that give you opportunities to develop.
* Identify a role model who demonstrates your desired competencies.
* Ask them what is required or ask them to mentor your development or arrange to work for them direct.
* Use training providers to target specifically those areas that need development.
* Consider a secondment to an organization that excels in the required competencies.
* Do your research into specific competencies
* Ask for a regular feedback from your boss or experts.
* Join an industry specialist group.
* Develop as you go and gain from experience. Keep track of what you have learned to ensure that you never forget.

We are a team of professionals with each having two decades of experience in start-ups, sales, marketing, finance, HR, large scale project and profit centre management and running mature cross functional operations. At we are big believers that knowledge transfer is critical to our industry’s evolution. We love to share our experiences and learnings through our online resources.

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