Friday, September 13, 2013

Essential Skills for a BA Career

Dearest Readers,

This is one of the simplest blog-posts. The intended audience for this blog post would be all of them who aims to start their career as a Business Analyst. The below picture describes the list of essential skills required for a BA Career.

Pic: Skills for Business Analyst Career

1. Facilitation Skills: Facilitation sessions are mostly helpful for BAs to elicit and gather requirements from various stake holders during project initiation and requirements gathering phases. Facilitation sessions are very structured, planned, working sessions where every participant is carefully chosen and has a critical role to play. As a Facilitator the BA should have the art of bringing people together, face-to-face or remotely, to elicit requirements and get agreement on solutions.
2. Presentation Skills: Having excellent Presentations Skills is an asset for any Business Analyst. Once the BA document the requirements, then he has to present/hand-over that to multiple parties, such as Design Team, Development Team, Testing Team, etc. Even sometimes the BA has to present the result of his analysis and documentation to the Business Users. So for all these, the BA needs to have proper Presentation Skills.
3. Analysis Skills: As the profession is Business Analysis, a Business Analyst should be very sharp at his Analysis Skills. This will help him to analyze complex requirements easily and to arrive at some solution. A BA should analyze all the dependencies, issues and risks at a earlier stage of the project, which will help in proper Project Planning and Project Risk Management.
4. Visualization & Modeling Skills: Visualization & Modeling skills help a Business Analyst to represent the Project Requirements in the form of Business Process Models. At the initial stage a BA can create a Context Diagram through the Modeling Skills and at a later stage that can be decomposed to various Process Flow Diagrams. Visual representation of Requirements helps all the Stake holders to understand the scope easily.
5. Working Virtually: If we talk about any Project in this large global corporate world, then various Stake holders of a Project will be located in different geographic locations. But all work seamlessly as if all are present in the same place to achieve the common goal. As a Business Analyst most of the time we need to work virtually to attend meetings, manage project hand-overs, handle JAD Sessions, etc. through teleconference or e-Meetings.
6. Questioning Skills: Proper Questioning Skills is an Art which a Business Analyst should possess. Through Questioning Skills a BA can elicit all the Project requirements from various Stake holders. Sometimes the Stake holders are not clear about the Requirements, at that time as a BA one should ask various Questions (such as How…When..What..Where..etc. etc.) to obtain more clarity on the Requirements.
7. Thinking Out of Box: This is a main key differentiator for any Business Analyst. If a BA is able to think differently and achieve some project objectives with minimum time & cost, then it would be a great achievement for him. At times a BA needs to think out of the box and propose some alternate solutions to a problem if an already proposed solution fails.
8. Documentation Skills: A Business Analyst should be having excellent Documentation Skills. As a BA acts as a bridge between the Business Users and the Technical Team, he should document all requirements clearly so that other stake holders can clearly understand it and all Customer/Business User’s needs will be fulfilled / developed by the technical team.
9. Planning & Management Skills: Requirements Planning & Management is a core activity of Business Analyst. To do this effectively, a BA Should have very strong Planning & Management Skills. Going forward in his career-path, this skill even helps in proper Project Planning & Estimation.
10. Skills on CASE Tools: A Business Analyst should be equipped with skills on Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE) Tools such as MS Visio, Rational Software Modeler (RSM), Rational Rose, Rational Software Architect (RSA), SmartDraw, etc. With all these tools a BA can model the Project Requirements visually.
11. Communication & Interpersonal Skills: Most of cases a Business Analyst acts as a single point of contact in as Project Requirements are concerned. Before the requirements documentations, a BA needs elicit all requirements from various Business Users through proper communication skills. Once the documentation is over, he needs to interact with other Project Teams to explain the requirements. In an SDLC, a BA has to participate more or less in all the stages, which require great Communication & Interpersonal Skills.
12. Influencing Skills: A Business Analyst should work as an Influencer which will help in motivating other team members. At times Customers ask for some features in the Project which is technically feasible but little complex in developing those. In this instance, generally the Development/Technical team proposes some alternate solutions or asks not to include that requirement, as they don’t understand the Business Values of that requirement completely. So as a BA we need influence the team by communicating the proper rational behind it.
Do let me know your feedback through comments.
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