The Tech Skills Every Business Analyst Needs to Know

Finding Trends

Even in a period of high demand, it’s important to have a diverse skill set. That means business analysts with a solid knowledge of technology have an advantage over their competition when they’re looking for a job.

Creating a sense of confidence among, and gaining the respect of, IT and business end users requires you to speak their languages and demonstrate a strong technical aptitude. So, a BA needs to know what IT applications are being utilized, what options can be achieved through current platforms, and be generally familiar with what the latest technology offers. In addition, knowing how to test software and design business systems is important.

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More specifically, a BA is well-served by having a grasp of engineering systems concepts such as process engineering/workflows, complex modeling techniques and technical writing (which, yes, is different from business writing) as well as some experience with SQL and relational databases/report writing. These are helpful for analysis and finding key metrics and trends in business data.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look at a recent job description for a business analyst put out by a major employer.

  • Ensure professional service and technical solutions are delivered to meet the needs of the business lines. A business analyst must be needs-oriented for what the business desires, yet also be on top of possible solutions to those needs.
  • Ensure project and solution methodologies are adhered to and fully documented using corporate project office standards. A BA should be versed in some fundamental form of project management.
  • Deliver customized database solutions for business units involving development of advanced Access database applications with user interfaces, business logic and data access. A BA should have intermediate to advanced knowledge of relational databases and data analysis.
  • Document written procedures on any new database or macro support documentation and complete documentation such as end user guides, manuals and/or administrator guides for business areas. Having knowledge in the above areas will help a BA devise technical documentation such as what’s described here.
  • Assess feasibility of application development efforts in conjunction with cost benefit analysis and risk analysis. A business analyst will be called upon to have some financial knowledge as well, and perhaps even be well-versed in some of the financial application packages out on the market.
  • Maintain product knowledge and provide consultation and technical guidance to internal and external departments. You may be called upon to become a subject matter expert.
  • Conduct training demonstrations and presentations to lines of business to showcase product features and functionality. Business analysts should be able to describe the technical features of a product.
  • Look for opportunities for business process improvement to improve efficiency and eliminate manual processes through automation where a technical solution is merited. Business analysts should be familiar with workflows and process improvement methodologies from a technical perspective.
  • Suggest alternative solution options to solve business problems as deemed appropriate. This means that BAs should be able to “think outside the box.”
  • Document the application design and technical construction within a detailed technical specification document. There may be times when a business analyst needs enough technical know-how to write up a technical specification document.
  • Take part in relevant technology working groups and forums within the company and industry, and share information and continuously research and upgrade technical knowledge using Internet, books and attending learning courses and conferences. This will only add to your knowledge, further enhancing your skill set.

These needs, requirements and skill sets are highly sought after by most employers. Having a firm grasp of them will help augment any business analyst’s career over the long term.

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