Business Analyst Skills

Discover the essential skills every business analyst needs for success in today's dynamic market. Learn how to enhance your value to organizations and make you more competitive in the field.

Business Analyst Skills

What does a business analyst need to know?

Like many interview questions, the answer to what skills a business analyst needs is "it depends." It depends on the specific company, project, product stage, and the clients.

While I recommend reading books on this topic, I also regularly research the job market, both locally and internationally, to understand the desired skills for open positions. This article outlines the essential business analyst skills to help those considering this career path make informed decisions and for current analysts to update or strengthen their knowledge and stay in demand.

What is a business analyst, and why are their skills critical?

A business analyst bridges business stakeholders and technical teams, ensuring that technological solutions align with business needs. They identify business needs and requirements, define project goals, and communicate these to the technical team. Business analysts also support testing, implementation, and integration of solutions into existing business processes. They analyze and document complex processes, identify areas for improvement, and recommend solutions for process optimization. Essentially, business analysts facilitate communication between stakeholders and technical teams, guaranteeing that tech solutions meet business objectives.

As a business analyst with 9 years of experience in different companies and projects, from startups to enterprises, I can say that there are still top business analyst skills that are necessary for success in this role, despite the fact that some additional skills may be required for the specific project.

What is a business analyst
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What makes a good business analyst? One of the most essential business analyst skills is strong analytical abilities, which are necessary for evaluating complex data, processes, and identifying patterns and trends.

Additionally, effective communication skills are essential for business analysts to communicate effectively with stakeholders and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Sometimes, it's even necessary to fine-tune communication between stakeholders, especially when multiple opinions are involved, which can be challenging.

Technical skills are also crucial because business analysts, besides understanding business processes, should have at least a high-level understanding of development processes, coding, and how the software they work with is built and functions. This understanding helps them propose appropriate solutions (sometimes even describing API requirements, although not always necessary). Moreover, a business analyst should be familiar with tools that assist them in performing business analysis tasks, again, understanding API and databases, using SQL to fetch some data, analyzing data, etc.

Knowledge of the business domain and experience in the field are sometimes crucial for understanding the business context and ensuring that solutions align with business goals. This is a debatable topic because often, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) may not adequately describe requirements, propose solutions, or communicate with the development team. However, an experienced business analyst with persistence can grasp the domain and ask the right questions to SMEs to find a solution and convey it to the team effectively. Essentially, this is business analysis, so business knowledge is indispensable.

Lastly, adaptability and flexibility are necessary to navigate changes and evolving business needs. Overall, a successful business analyst should possess a combination of analytical, technical, communicative, and business skills to effectively meet the needs of the organization.

Let's delve deeper into each skill.

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills enable a business analyst to effectively analyze data and processes. Business analysts often gather, organize, and analyze data to identify trends, patterns, and insights. By utilizing analytical skills, a business analyst can extract meaningful information from large datasets and use it to justify business decisions.

Data doesn't necessarily mean queries in a database; sometimes, BAs study the market or analyze processes within the company. In business analysis, it's essential to correctly trace trends and not to mistake individual signals for the real needs of all users. A crucial task of a business analyst is correctly interpreting causes and effects, not confusing causes with events that simply preceded something but didn't actually influence what happened later.

Another critical advantage of analytical skills is their ability to facilitate problem-solving. Business analysts are responsible for identifying and solving organizational problems, and analytical skills are essential. By breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts, a business analyst can use analytical skills to identify the root causes of problems and develop practical solutions.

Additionally, analytical skills enable business analysts to make informed decisions. When faced with complex or ambiguous information, a business analyst can use analytical skills to evaluate various options and choose the optimal course of action. By adopting a data-driven approach to decision-making, business analysts can minimize risks and optimize outcomes.

So, how can a business analyst improve analytical skills for better performance? Here are a few tips:

  • Keep Your Analysis Tools and Methods Updated: In the field of data business analysis, new tools and methods are constantly emerging, so it's crucial to stay abreast of the latest trends and best practices. For starters, it's essential to learn how to write user stories. This skill is particularly important for beginner analysts because, initially, it may be one of your primary tools (read more about user stories).
  • Seek Opportunities to Practice Problem-Solving: Look for opportunities to tackle complex problems and develop solutions. Also, strive to receive feedback on your approach and results—check whether your solution worked and understand why it didn't if it didn't meet expectations. For a business analyst, it's crucial to propose multiple solutions at once (as a single solution may not satisfy stakeholders, and taking an additional round to brainstorm and propose another option can be quite time-consuming).
  • Cultivate a Deep Understanding of Statistics and Quantitative Analysis: Statistics and quantitative analysis fundamentals can be incredibly useful when making data-driven decisions. (But juniors and often middles need not worry too much about this.)
  • Practice Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is a crucial component of analytical skills and involves objectively evaluating information and making informed judgments. In business analysis, being open to information while being skeptical of what you're told is important. It's essential to build your work on verified data rather than assumptions, even if the client voices those assumptions.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is the foundation of any successful project or initiative, and it's particularly crucial for business analysts. Business analysts are responsible for understanding the needs of stakeholders and conveying these needs to the rest of the team. They are also responsible for translating technical information into terms that stakeholders can understand.

qualities of business analyst

One of the most critical aspects of effective communication for a business analyst is the ability to listen. A business analyst must be able to attentively listen to stakeholders and understand their needs and issues. By actively listening and empathizing, a business analyst can establish trust with stakeholders and gain a deeper understanding of their problems, which will help them propose better solutions.

Another crucial aspect of effective communication for a business analyst is delivering information clearly and persuasively. Business analysts often have to present their findings to stakeholders, and they must be able to articulate complex information in a way that is easy to understand. This includes the ability to visualize information correctly to support their words, backing up statements with relevant facts, storytelling, and speaking in a way that is heard and understood and, importantly, does not provoke stakeholders to argue. A business analyst who can communicate effectively can achieve consensus and drive progress in the project.

In addition to listening and presenting skills, another important aspect of effective communication for a business analyst is the ability to articulate thoughts in written communications and requirements. A business analyst should be able to document business processes, their findings, requirements, and recommendations clearly and concisely. Requirements should be easy to read, understandable, and unambiguous (read more about quality characteristics of software requirements). The ability to express thoughts in writing is crucial for ensuring that all team members are on the same page and to avoid misunderstandings.

How can business analysts improve their communication skills? Here are a few tips:

  • Practice Active Listening: active listening in the workplace is really important, and for business analysts it is critical. Be present in the moment, listen attentively, and ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand what stakeholders are saying (don't just listen to respond or ask some question you planned to ask; make sure you've delved deep enough and understood everything correctly).
  • Use Clear and Concise Language: Avoid using technical jargon with clients who may not understand it (as your role also involves translating technical language into business language). Focus on using language that stakeholders can easily understand (teams don't always understand business goals either, but your task is to ultimately teach them to understand the project goals better, to help the team realize their potential better, and to motivate them not just to write code but to understand how it improves lives—it's always more enjoyable). The ability to adapt to the interlocutor is an important factor in the growth of a business analyst's profession.
  • Hone Presentation Skills: Take the opportunity to practice presenting your findings or recommendations to colleagues and ask for feedback on your performance (you can ask a couple of control questions at the end to assess understanding, or you can send a mini-survey asking how much they liked the presentation, what was clear, and what wasn't).
  • Improve Writing Skills: Practice documenting your findings and recommendations clearly and concisely, and look for resources that explain the basic rules.
  • Learn English (the primary language for business communications): This advice is added for those people whose native language is not English and who work with international companies and English-speaking clients. There are a lot of business analysts who have learned English for work. Knowing English, you'll better understand clients (as they are often English speakers), study the market/business/the latest materials on the topic you need, to be able to formulate requirements and letters more clearly (often requirements (even for the team) are also written in English so that clients can read and approve or discuss them, and, of course, the team may consist of people from different countries. English is often the official language of international companies and is used for correspondence and documentation).

Want to become a Business Analyst in IT?

I am preparing an online course for those who want to 1) enter IT through BA, 2) switch to BA within IT, or 3) those BAs who want to systematize their knowledge and solve problems more effectively. I will let you know as soon as it comes out!

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Technical Skills

Technical skills enable a business analyst to understand technological systems. Business analysts often have to work with complex technological systems and applications, and a deep understanding of these systems is very helpful. With technical skills, a business analyst can effectively communicate with technical teams, understand system requirements, and ensure that technological solutions align with business goals.
This also includes the ability not to overcomplicate solutions to ensure the solution's financial viability or the market entry's speed.

Технические умения бизнес-аналитиков
Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Another key advantage of having developed technical skills is the ability of such Business Analysts to facilitate problem-solving. Technical skills allow business analysts to identify and address technical issues, collaborate with development teams on solution development, and communicate with them in the same language. It's impossible to write technical specifications without understanding the technology. With technical skills, a business analyst can apply a more practical approach to problem-solving and communicate solutions more effectively to stakeholders (and, as we know, stakeholders are not only our clients. The development team are also stakeholders).

There's also an essential part of our work when we need to describe requirements for APIs, or fetch some data from database, requiring us to know SQL.

Additionally, technical skills enable business analysts to stay updated on new technologies. Since technologies continue to evolve rapidly, it is crucial for business analysts to keep abreast of the latest trends and tools. With technical skills, a business analyst can stay informed about new technologies and find opportunities to integrate them into business processes. (But again, at different levels, different levels of immersion are expected from business analysis specialists, but at least understanding what to offer the client—whether a mobile application or a web application—will be necessary over time).

So, how can business analysts improve their technical skills? Here are a few tips:

  • Attend training programs/watch courses: Look for opportunities to attend technical training programs and seminars, online courses. But don't jump into learning a programming language or learning something concrete without understanding why you need it and how it will be used. Seek a mentor's help or the help of a more senior colleague who can advise what you need; it is very easy to spend a lot of time obtaining the knowledge that will not be used.
  • Collaborate closely with technical teams: Build relationships with technical teams, seek collaboration opportunities within projects, ask for explanations of why certain decisions are made or why one solution is more time-consuming/expensive than another. Over time, you will begin to understand more and more, and the same courses will fit into a prepared foundation.
  • Stay updated on new technologies: Follow technology blogs and news publications, attend industry conferences and events.

A systems analyst and technical business analyst can (and should) have more profound knowledge, so if you enjoy this topic, you can continue to develop further in "tech" and become another type of specialist.

One Example - Streamlining Business Analysis with AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful ally, offering tools to boost efficiency and productivity. One such tool is ChatGPT, an AI-driven chatbot designed to assist business analysts in various tasks. ChatGPT serves as a virtual assistant, capable of answering questions, providing explanations, and even assisting in writing acceptance criteria for projects. Moreover, it can proofread texts and simplify complex technical concepts, making it easier for analysts to understand intricate details.

In today's fast-paced business environment, familiarity with AI is essential for business analysts. With AI technologies becoming increasingly prevalent in projects and applications, understanding AI is no longer optional but necessary. Many modern projects integrate AI features like predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms. As businesses embrace AI to gain a competitive edge, analysts must stay updated on AI advancements to contribute effectively to AI-driven projects and drive business success in the digital age.

Understanding the business and industry sector

Knowledge of the business and the industry sector allows a business analyst to comprehend the organization's operations more deeply. The business analyst must profoundly understand the organization's structure, processes, and procedures. With business analysis skills, the business analyst can identify areas for improvement, propose appropriate solutions, and ensure that technical solutions align with business objectives.

This is also an integral part of communication skills (the work of a business analyst is primarily about communication). Of course, business-side clients or employees of the organization you are assisting will communicate better with a business analyst who understands them correctly and can offer relevant solutions. Proficiency in business knowledge and terminology greatly aids effective communication with business leaders. With expertise in the business domain (industry sector), the business analyst can speak the same language as stakeholders and more effectively present technical solutions from the perspective of their impact on business processes and outcomes.

Furthermore, understanding the domain helps the business analyst stay informed about industry trends, laws, and regulations. This helps to timely identify and describe the requirements and constraints (for example, medical applications for the US market must be HIPAA-compliant, but not every client will inform the business analyst of this (not everyone understands its importance or that the company they are hiring may not be aware of it)).

So, how can a business analyst improve their knowledge in the business domains? Here are a few tips:

  • Develop a deep understanding of the organization's operations: Learn about the structure, processes, and procedures of the organization by attending meetings, studying documentation, engaging with key stakeholders, and delving into business processes.
  • If you find yourself on a project and realize you're unfamiliar with the domain, seek information within the organization. There may be internal training sessions or articles available. Perhaps someone within the company has previously worked on a project in this domain—reach out to the business analyst or manager who led it or someone who may be familiar with the nuances. Specific requirements might be easily found in descriptions of business processes, constraints, or other requirements. If not, search the internet for overview courses and specialized publications.
  • If your goal is to specialize in a particular domain, stay informed about industry trends and regulations: read industry publications, attend conferences and seminars, and engage in continuous learning and development. Sometimes, obtaining higher education in this field can be beneficial. (If you're confident in your choice, try to find business analysts already working in this domain and learn how deep your knowledge needs to be to succeed in the business analyst profession in this domain).
  • Cultivate business thinking: Understand the organization's goals and objectives and approach problem-solving from a business perspective rather than focusing solely on technologies.

Business analysts who understand business and product management often take on the product owner role. I described who they are and how to get a professional product owner certificate in the article "How to become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?"

Bonus - Adaptability and Flexibility

The skills of adaptation and flexibility enable business analysts to effectively navigate changes. Analysts must adapt to new requirements, technologies, and processes as businesses evolve. With adaptation and flexibility, business analysts can quickly and efficiently adjust to tackle new tasks and utilize new opportunities. They can easily switch projects or adapt to changes within a project as business dynamics shift.

We live in a VUCA world, where technologies and everything around us are rapidly changing. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, reflecting the unpredictable nature of the modern business landscape.

Adaptability as a Business Analyst Skill
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Another key advantage of adaptation and flexibility skills is their ability to facilitate effective communication. Thanks to adaptability and flexibility, a business analyst can adjust their communication style and approach to interact effectively with various stakeholders, accommodating different discussion tempos and intensities of passion.

Additionally, adaptation and flexibility skills enable business analysts to take on new organizational responsibilities and roles. As analysts gain experience and skills, they can volunteer for new duties and roles. Thanks to their adaptability and flexibility, business analysts can successfully transition into new roles and responsibilities, continuing to contribute value to their organization.

How can business analysts improve their adaptation and flexibility skills? Here are a few tips:

  • Embrace change: Instead of resisting change, embrace it as an opportunity for growth and learning.
  • Be open-minded: Be open to new ideas, perspectives, and approaches. Sometimes, a business analyst may strongly react to criticisms of solutions they've proposed for discussion, but it's essential to accept arguments in debates, even if they come from someone else.
  • Continuously learn and develop: Engage in continuous learning and development to stay updated on industry trends and technologies. Business analysis never stands still. Thus, nowadays this means that you also acquire prompt engineering skills as generative AI tools like ChatGPT will help you in learning, and, if allowed in the organization, help with lots of routine tasks.
  • Build strong relationships: Cultivate strong relationships with stakeholders, be open to feedback and collaboration, whether in business analysis or other areas (such as startups or industry communities like healthcare, etc.).
  • Be proactive: Take initiative and seek opportunities to contribute to the organization's work beyond your core responsibilities.


Communicative Skills

Effective communication is crucial for success as a business analyst. Business analysts must be able to actively listen, clearly articulate information, persuade, gather information, and document their findings concisely. By practicing these skills and seeking opportunities for improvement, business analysts can establish trusting relationships with stakeholders and contribute to progress in project implementation.

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are essential for successful work as a business analyst. By using these skills, business analysts can efficiently analyze data, solve problems effectively, and make informed decisions. By practicing critical thinking, striving to understand the world of data analytics, and practicing the ability to draw conclusions based on it, business analysts can enhance the success of the products they work on or the organizations they assist.

Technical Skills

With an understanding of technological systems and applications, business analysts can communicate better with technical teams, write technical specifications, and develop effective solutions. By attending educational programs, closely collaborating with technical teams, staying up-to-date on new technologies, and practicing problem-solving, business analysts can continue to improve their technical skills and increase the value they bring to their organizations.

Business Knowledge

With a deep understanding of an organization's operations, awareness of industry trends and regulations, and the development of business acumen, business analysts can more effectively communicate with stakeholders, identify areas for improvement, and develop solutions aligned with business goals. By building strong relationships with stakeholders and participating in continuous learning and development, business analysts can continue to enhance their business knowledge and increase the value they bring to their organizations.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Adaptation and flexibility skills are crucial for success in the business analyst profession. Thanks to adaptability and flexibility, business analysts can effectively navigate changes, communicate effectively with various stakeholders, and take on new responsibilities and roles within their organizations. By embracing changes, being open-minded, continuously learning and developing, building strong relationships, and showing initiative, business analysts can continue to improve their adaptation and flexibility skills, becoming more successful and competitive.

Overall, the work of a business analyst becomes easier when all the skills described above are honed, with time and experience (but it's also important to initially acquire the necessary knowledge to lay the foundation - without it, experience is not gained as well and quickly).

Find more about day-to day activities and tools of BA reading Business Analyst Books

Want to become a Business Analyst in IT?

I am preparing an online course for those who want to 1) enter IT through BA, 2) switch to BA within IT, or 3) those BAs who want to systematize their knowledge and solve problems more effectively. I will let you know as soon as it comes out!

Leave your email address here