Career as a Business Systems Analyst

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The U.S. economy is bleeding jobs, but -- at least, so far -- the high-tech industry is something of a safe haven. That's not to say there haven't been tech losses or that it's easy to find an IT job. However, people with the right skill sets and the savvy to sniff out the particular areas of demand are much better positioned than professionals in some of the more-beleaguered industries.

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Demand for IT business analysis is also on the rise right now, according to Rubillo, driven by a couple of different factors. Of particular importance in these recessionary times is the need for analysis that can wring out the most efficiency from a software application.

"Companies are increasingly aware of understanding the real world implications of an IT investment," said Rubillo. "A new software application, for instance, can result in bottlenecks in the supply chain, or a need for new resources -- or the ability to cut back on others. Companies want to get ahead of these developments as they implement their new IT investments."

Companies are also looking for untapped savings from pre-existing systems, he added.

Author: Erika Morphy

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Good business solutions begin with good business analysis. But what's needed to excel as a business analyst and to get projects started on a good footing?

Much has been (and will continue to be) said about the set of skills that go to making a good business analyst. Forrester Research, for example, has published a spreadsheet (called the Business Analyst Assessment Workbook -- Note: subscription required) that lists more than 150 attributes of a good business analyst, grouped into categories such as Core Capabilities, Business Knowledge, Job-Specific Skills, Technical Knowledge etc. (I was particularly pleased to see this last category: It is important but not quite obvious that business analysts should also have a rudimentary general understanding of technology environments and architectures… mostly built up through seeing past analysis engagements fructify into delivered solutions).

Although the workbook is obviously intended as an assessment tool, I also found in it good for use as a training tool — for example, to bone up on technology approaches to business needs and to study sample projects, correlating the original business requirement with the type of solution delivered.

Here are 10 items from the Forrester list that I found particularly interesting and beyond the obvious (in no particular order)...

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It has been just over a year since I published my book, and that makes it easier for me to measure what has happened since then.

I have spent this year visiting many companies and discussing their business analysis function. In some cases, I have performed an assessment on the business analysts as well as the business analysis function within many large Corporates.

It has now got to the point where I could document the findings before I start the investigation. The reason for this is that the problems are the same. From articles and discussions from other countries it appears the problems are similar the world over. These are the problems I encounter most often:

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Today the term Business Analyst is synonymous with a career in the IT industry but the most successful and valuable analysts are those who understand the 'business' rather than those who understand IT. So what exactly is a Business Analyst? What is the Business Analyst’s role? What is the best background for this job? What skill set is required? What type of person is the best fit? What training is required and available?

Each organisation seems to have its own ideas about the role, skills, responsibilities and expectations of the Business Analyst. Given the importance of the job, a common definition would assist both practitioners and employers. We explore some of the issues here.

Written by Derrick Brown, IRM's Director and instructional designer, it shares first hand observations and experience gained from training thousands of Business Analysts since 1980, first in the UK and since 1984 in Australia.

Author: Derrick Brown

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Here’s a question that often gets asked: What are the benefits of Business Analysis? The depressing but true answer is that the benefits are usually invisible: good Business Analysis ensures that the project implements the right solution, and because it is the right solution no-one ever sees all the cost, time and effort that has been avoided (a project that does not do sufficient Business Analysis has to re-work all the bugs that slipped through the ‘analysis’ stage because the analysis was never done).

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Information is ever more critical to the success of organisations and information professionals should be hot property. But as information discovery begins to be perceived as automated, the power base is shifting to those who can analyse information that is ever more devoid of structure.

The business analyst, once an IT/business hybrid role, is evolving to fill this gap and this role looks set to overlap and overtake the traditional information professional role.

Richard Beveridge, director of library services at Tribal Group, says: “In my opinion a business analyst is not a seeker and discoverer of information, it is a person that actually does something with it. Information professionals would go off for information on someone’s behalf, but now organisations need people who are able to seek information and do something with it. If information professionals don’t evolve they will be under threat from business analysts.”

He adds: “Now you have to be able to make a contribution to the bottom line and that has to be measurable. I am stunned by the number of people in the library service who say, ‘I didn’t join to sell things.’”

Author: Tracey Caldwell

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Whether you’ve never heard of Agile or you just finished your nth Agile project, you need to understand that Agile is here to stay! Are you, the Business Analyst, an extinct species in this new world? Is your career changing? Do you need new skills?

Agile guru and visionary Scott Ambler talked with Adrian Marchis, ModernAnalyst.com's Publishing Editor, and shared his vision on what’s next for Agile and his thoughts on the role of the business analyst in the Agile world.

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As technology stocks waned in the last few months of the 20th century, some analysts worried that technology degrees wouldn't be as valuable as they had been during the "dot-com bubble." They couldn't have been more wrong.

It's not just industry heavyweights like Google and Apple who are acquiring new real estate to house all their new hires. Employers from nearly every market sector imaginable are luring professionals with computer training with competitive salaries, perks, and bonuses. With large companies taking their IT in-house and small businesses relying on outsourced providers, it seems that everyone in the world wants to hire technology professionals.

According to government statistics, these 10 jobs show the most promise over the next decade.

Author: Joe Taylor Jr.

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If you have been following my column over the past few months you should have a pretty good idea of where and when security comes into play for a typical organization.

Something that needs to be said however, is, that not all organizations have a dedicated roll responsible for security. Even if there is a dedicated roll, that person can’t be in twenty places at once.

In organizations that have dedicated teams of security personnel, like a financial institution, the challenge of having a security representative for each facet of the business becomes very challenging as there are dozens of project teams, offices, and operational issues that need to be tended to.

So what do we do?

If a formal representative can’t be present in a meeting or planning session, do we just forget about security?

The answer, I hope is "No, we don’t!"

Author: Stewart Allen

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Business analysis involves analyzing a business: what its goals are, how those goals connect to specific objectives, and determining the courses of action that a business has to undertake to achieve those goals and objectives.

The formal definition of business analysis found in version 2 of the Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge is:

Business analysis is 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 the organization to achieve its goals. 

Author: Kevin Brennan, IIBA

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Every year, organizations around the world face startlingly high project failure rates. Some research has shown that less than 30 percent of software projects are completed on time and on budget—and barely 50 percent end up meeting their proposed functionality. If you’re a big league baseball player, failing five to seven times out of ten will get you an endorsement deal and a spot in the Hall of Fame. But, for the rest of us, these types of failure rates represent billions in cost overruns and project waste.

In 2005, ESI International surveyed 2,000 business professionals to try to find out why projects fail. The answers were numerous and varied and included such common thorns in the side as inadequate communication, risk management and scope control. But of all the answers, one showed up more than any other. Fifty percent of those surveyed marked “poor requirements definition” as their leading project challenge.

Failing to properly and accurately define requirements at the very beginning of the project lifecycle points to a distinct lack of business analysis competency. The role of the business analyst is an important one, and, sadly, one that is underutilized by many organizations around the world. In essence, a business analyst acts as a translator or liaison between the customer or user and the person or group attempting to meet user needs. But, that’s just speaking generally. What about the specifics?

Below, I’ve put together a list of eight key competencies that every business analyst—or every professional performing the duties of a business analyst—should possess. I’ve included specific emphasis on tasks associated with junior, intermediate and senior business analysts. If performed effectively, the items on this list could save organizations millions.

Author: Glenn R. Brûlé

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Not many people-including business analysts themselves-are able to agree upon a standard job description, typical skill sets, proper training methods or a well-defined career path for the business analyst position. Yet almost everyone who's ever toiled away on an 18-month software development project can agree on the importance of the business analyst role to project success.

So while everyone agrees that good business analysts are extremely valuable, and that cultivating business analyst talent is essential for effective IT operations, a new Forrester Research report says that businesses need to do more. To really take advantage of everything that business analysts have to offer, there needs to be an answer to a career conundrum that many business analysts face: What's next?

In the June 2008 report, "The Business-Oriented Business Analyst," Forrester's Andy Salunga offers several potential paths to future business leadership for business-oriented business analysts.

First it needs to be noted that Forrester categorizes business analysts (BAs) into three roles: business-oriented BAs, who focus on a particular function, such as HR, finance or supply chain; IT-oriented BAs, who report into IT; and business technology BAs, who possess a blend of broad business experience and operational know-how as well as a high degree of tech know-how. However, the analysis and discussion of business analyst career path seems just as applicable to all other BAs and those who are interested in becoming one.

Author: Thomas Wailgum , CIO

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Of all the roles associated with developing software, perhaps none needs a makeover as badly as the business analyst. Intended as a pivotal position that translates business needs to software requirements, the role varies widely across organizations. Often saddled with negative stereotypes, the job doesn’t command the respect it deserves. “It’s...
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You may be the new kid on the job block, but that doesn't mean your salary has to start low on the totem pole. The PayScale.com Salary Survey identified an array of exciting jobs that pay a total compensation close to or above an impressive $50,000 per year right from the start. Here are some of the 10 hot professions that show you th...
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A colleague of mine asked me recently what makes a good Business Analyst, and this stumped me for a while. I had a rare opportunity to go trout fly-fishing recently and as the fishing was slow I was able to contemplate this question. You will gather from this that the question had worried me as I seldom think about work stuff when I am fly-fishing. 

So what does make a good Business Analyst? 

I decided to go back to basics; if I want to know what makes a good Analyst then I need to ask what do we, as Business Analysts, do? If I could understand that, then I can start to understand what makes one Analyst better than another.  

I asked around in business analysis circles for an on line description of what we do. Although I got a few different answers, I found I got the most consensuses with “a Business Analyst elicits, documents, and communicates business requirements”. But what does that mean?

Author: Robin Grace

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