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Top 10 IT Skills for a Business Analyst–Grab Them Today!

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Your Leaflet for Elicitation Techniques in Business Analysis (4-page PDF document). The International Institute for Business Analysis (IIBA?) defines business analysis as "The set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and recommend solutions that enable [read more]

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If you are reading this, you are already a business analyst or aspiring to become one soon.

As most business analysts work along with software delivery teams, you may feel that not knowing programming languages will stop you from becoming a business analyst. So do we need to learn software coding or designing applications?

Not really and that’s a good news. Let us understand who is a business analyst.

Business analyst is someone who analyzes, designs organizational systems, assessing the business model and its integration with technology to achieve a certain objective.

Hence business analyst should not be technology illiterate, but at the same time they are not expected to be an expert in any programming language as such.

That’s indeed great news.

However, as business analysts we need to be comfortable in certain software tools. Let us understand the top 10 software concepts and tools for business analysts.

1. Software Engineering Methodologies like SDLC e.g. Waterfall, Iterative (Agile/Scrum)

We should be aware of the concepts related to methodologies like waterfall and iterative. Business analysis approaches differ as per SDLCs followed and being knowledgeable on SDLCs helps us to plan our activities better.

2. High Level Technology like Data base structure, OOP

As business analysts, we need to have some flair for technology like OOPS, Data base concepts. A good understanding of data base concepts is a great skill for all business analysts.

3. Reporting Tools

Another great area of interest for Business Analyst is Reporting tools, BI and reporting mechanisms etc.

4. UML Modeling Tools

Modeling tools are something like a paint brush for an artist; we are going to color our canvas with this skill. So get ourself conversant with this tool today if you have not. The popular ones in use in industry are Rational Rose, Star UML (Free software) and Enterprise Architect.

5. BPM Tools

BPM Tools like MS Visio and BizAgi (free software) are great tools to depict the process map in visual manner. Visual representations are great ways to communicate the process flow. The beauty of this is it makes the whole process comprehendable in few mins by having a quick look at the process flow diagram.

6. Testing Tools

Testing tools are ultimately going to be the one which is going to make or break the release of the system/application. Business analysts are testers on behalf of the most stakeholders and sponsor for the application to see the light of the day.

7. Requirements Management Tools

As business analysts, we are going to be owner of the requirements of the applications/projects that we are part of. Few popular requirements management tool in the market are OSRMT – Open source Requirements management tool, DOORS, Rational Requisite pro.

8. Mind map

As business analysts, we are expected to explore details about a particular situation or solution. Mind map is a very helpful technique to elaborate any concept.

9. Prototyping tools

Prototypes are great ways to evaluate and collect feedback on requirements and features.

Prototyping tools such as Pencil, iRise, SmartDraw are few popular prototyping tools. Of which Pencil is a free plugin where as iRise and SmartDraw are licensed products.

10. MS Office

Last but not the least, it may sound very generic, however as business analyst s at any point of time we will have to be fairly proficient on the MS office tools like MS Excel, MS Word, and MS PowerPoint. These office tools are going to be handy for all our life, hence definitely worth to invest some good time in these tools.

Keeping one abreast of upcoming technologies, trends and practices in the area of interest or domain is going to keep one in demand.

You can get access to the best of the industry toolkit and templates for business analysis and requirements engineering here.

These templates and toolkits have been designed by experts based on hundreds of years of industry experience in this domain.

Do stay in touch and happy learning.

179-page PDF document
The role of the business analyst is to formulate options for a way forward and produce business cases setting out conclusions and recommendations. This professional discipline requires the widest possible array of tools and the ability to use each when and where it is needed. As a training and [read more]

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About Ananya Pani

Ananya Panyi is a Director and Co-founder of Adaptive US Inc., a technology consulting firm specializing in Business Analysis training services and materials. Adaptive US Inc. is also an author on Flevy, offering a wide selection of BA, IT, and business training guides (see their materials here). You can reach Ananya directly by email here: ananya.pani@gmail.com.

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