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Business Analysis for Dummies

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Over the years, business analysis is growing in importance and thus popularity. Given the projected growth of demand for analysts at 14% between 2014 and 2024, career prospects in this field are certainly promising hence worth looking out for. Business analysts play a major role in any kind of business venture. They analyze various business situations to spot both opportunities to explore and problems to fix. Also, core to the quality of services that BAs deliver in their different capacities is from the business analyst training they receive.

What is Business Analysis?

Business analysis is a research field that helps businesses to identify their needs and design the most appropriate solutions for these needs. Business analysis today does not only lean on the established BA concepts but also on information technology to be effective. Solutions can involve designing a new business system, introducing a component, feature, or an interface into an existing business system, or creating an additional organization unit in the business.

 

The techniques and tasks applied in business analysis are explained in the book – “A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide)” which was developed by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and is recognized globally. You can also enroll in a Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis that will help you earn an IIBA certification.

 

BABOK Guidelines outlines the following

  • Core business analysis concepts
  • Six knowledge areas and tasks for each one of them
  • Business analysis competencies
  • Business analysis techniques
  • Business analysis perspectives

Core business analysis concepts

Like in any other profession, business analysis is guided by six core concepts. Business Analysis Core Concept Model™ (BACCM™) provides a common conceptual framework and defines common BA terminologies that business analysts apply during practice. BACCM provides a holistic view of the concepts by defining them and their relationship with each other. BA concepts are considered the pillar of business analysis practice.

 

This is to say that to understand one concept, you need to understand the five other concepts. No single concept is to be perceived higher than the others. All these concepts can be used to evaluate the quality of an assignment. By considering how each concept is addressed, it’s possible to establish if a project has been accomplished or not.

These six concepts are:

  1. Changes. Change is a transformation that occurs in an organization in the process of fulfilling a need. Based on the actions of business analysis, change is triggered through business analysis to tackle an identified need to improve the organization’s performance.
  2. Needs. A need can either be a problem, an opportunity, or a constraint with potential value that a BA addresses by designing a solution in liaison with the business stakeholders. An action can either reduce the need or enhance its value to the organization. Change and need are intertwined.
  3. Solutions. This is the process of satisfying a need either through resolving a problem identified in an organization or enhancing the capacity of the organization to take advantage of the established opportunity.
  4. Stakeholders. A stakeholder can be individuals or even groups that have an established relationship with the needs, change, and solutions concepts in an organization. stakeholders are grouped based on the relations they have with  the elements of needs, changes, and solutions
  5. Contexts. Context represents a wide range of terms that form an organization’s environment. It may, therefore, represent institutional culture, values, goals, people, products, competitors, and government policies. Each of these listed items is a circumstance that can be influenced.
  6. Values. Value is the usefulness or worth of something to the stakeholders in a given environment. Value can either be tangible, like increased revenue or intangible, like the company establishing a good image.

A career as a business analysis

The Business analysis field offers many career options. One can pursue the following roles in this field to launch or rise to the next level in their career.

  • Business analyst
  • Business systems analyst
  • IT business analyst
  • Business data analyst
  • Business process analyst
  • Information security analyst
  • Management analyst
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Financial analyst

Business Analyst core skills

To be successful, a BA should have the following skills.

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • critical -thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Technical skills
  • Leadership skills

What does a business analyst do?

The business analyst is an agent of change but he wears different hats depending on the organization he is working for. Overall, he is responsible for identifying needs and designing solutions to meet them. He plays an important role in driving initiatives for productivity, efficiency, and overall profitability for the business. Some specific roles played by business analysts include:

  • Familiarize with and understand the business structure including its systems, processes, and operations
  • Analyze structure for problems or opportunities for improvement
  • Come up with requirements for the business needs
  • Design solutions that will best meet the business needs or address the opportunities identified
  • Design features, components, or interfaces that will be integrated into the business system to improve operations
  • Evaluate how effective the solutions he has designed and fix variances
  • Communicates with all the stakeholders of the business at different points in the course of implementing solutions

Business Analysis Certifications

Business analysis is a rapidly growing field and IIBA certifications are the most recognized globally. These certifications are proof of skills and are earned in levels from entry-level, advanced level, to the specialist level. These are:

  1. Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™ (ECBA™). This certification is designed for people who are new in the business analysis profession. It demonstrates that an individual has understood the fundamentals of business analysis. One is required to register with IIBA and complete a minimum of 21 Professional Development (PD) hours in four years to qualify for this certification.
  2. Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®). This credential is right for you if you have acquired the ECBA™ certification. Designed for product managers, hybrid business analysts like project managers and QA professionals, trainers, and others, this certification proves that one can identify business needs and opportunities, design solutions and processes, and work them through with stakeholders. To be eligible you need to have completed a minimum of 3,750 hours of Business Analysis work experience in the immediate 7 years. You also need a minimum of 21 hours of Professional Development in the last 4 years.
  3. Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®).  The CBAP credential is designed for BAs with vast experience in business analysis. It demonstrates that an individual is an expert in several business areas, has the capability of handling complex projects and business processes. To be eligible, one is required to have earned at least 7500 hours in the last ten years within which 900 hours should be in four of the six BABOK knowledge areas and 35 hours of professional training in the last four years.
  4. Certificate in Cybersecurity Analysis (IIBA®- CCA). This is a specialist certification for BAs who are interested in pursuing cybersecurity analysis and developing security solutions for the business.
  5. Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA®-AAC). The IIBA®-AAC certification highlights an individual’s mastery of the application of the agile approach in the business analysis framework
  6. Business Data Analytics Certification (IIBA®-CBDA). The IIBA®-CBDA certification demonstrates one’s ability to execute data analysis and business analytics initiatives.

Conclusion

The business analyst role is essential in every business and the demand for BAs continues to rise by the day. To be a successful business analyst you need to have the acumen and a passion for business. This is the starting point. Learn business structures and processes and as you go along you will identify a specific area that tickles your interest. Build your skills, earn certifications, but most importantly, get as much experience as you can.

 

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