What to expect from a business analyst role

A business analyst uses data to refine processes, products, services and software that are critical to companies in achieving their goals. The business analyst role is crucial in ensuring solutions evolve by assessing the current ways of working and improving efficiency based on the evidence provided by data.

Like many areas of IT, a business analyst job can be found under other titles, including systems analyst, data analyst, business architect or product owner. While each of these business analyst positions will be nuanced in its responsibilities, they all perform similar roles within a company.

Business analyst skills

Before being able to apply for a role, it’s important to understand the business analyst skills required. One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to the job description. It will likely feature a combination of hard and soft skills, all of which you should emphasise on your business analyst CV.

The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) provides a comprehensive list of the skills business analysts will need at work. They include:

  • Business knowledge to decrease risk and identify opportunities
  • Facilitation techniques like brainstorming, mind maps and root cause analysis
  • Creative thinking to learn, respond to change and accept new ideas
  • Systems thinking to understand interactions between disparate elements
  • Conceptual thinking to determine the right solution from a number of perspectives

Key soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Adaptability
  • Relationship building

Business analysis is a discipline that requires many specialist tools and being able to list your experience with them is likely to boost your CV. Pay attention to SAP, Oracle and other data-driven platforms that can help you make well-informed business decisions.

Business analyst salary

The average business analyst salary in the UK, according to Glassdoor, is £45,379 a year, with additional compensation ranging between £1,774 and £6,666. This makes asking about bonuses among the key considerations at business analyst interviews.

A senior business analyst who is able to maximise the value delivered through business processes is likely to command higher than the average salary. This can be in the region of £54,000 plus benefits. While upskilling and experience can help to boost salary expectations, so can getting security cleared to work in industries that handle sensitive information.

Business analyst job description and responsibilities

The exact nature of a business analyst job description and its associated responsibilities will be determined by the specific business requirements of the hiring firm. Here’s an example of what the job description may look like:

A business analyst will collaborate with multiple departments and stakeholders to document and analyse business goals, processes and workflows. They will create functional specifications for IT teams and work with project managers, developers and testers to deliver projects. A business analyst will also identify areas for process improvement and suggest solutions to boost efficiency and effectiveness.

Business analyst responsibilities include:

  • Data analysis
  • Reporting
  • Planning
  • Monitoring
  • Forecasting
  • Evaluating

Business analyst tools and certifications

As well as having a good understanding of business analysis tools in all areas of the discipline, you can prove your specialist knowledge through industry certifications. A number of providers offer courses, so think carefully about the reputation of the institution and the skills you’ll be learning. Specialise in areas you could see yourself happily working in on a day-to-day basis to make the most of these learning opportunities.

Among the providers worth investigating are:

Business analyst interview questions

When preparing for a business analyst interview, it’s important to think about the industry-specific questions you might be asked. They can range from enquiring about the strategies you favour to how you’d represent the organisation to its stakeholders.

Always have pertinent examples from throughout your career at your disposal to demonstrate your point. If you can’t think of something relevant, you can always refer to an incident where you would change your strategy in light of the outcome.

Companies that employ business analysts

Business analysis is a type of management consulting and as such can be useful in many different industries. The top sectors taking advantage of the role include finance, IT, government, healthcare and retail, with a number of these likely to request candidates are security cleared before taking on a job.

Business analyst vs data analyst

It’s likely during your business analyst job search that you’ll come across a number of vacancies for data analyst positions. It’s therefore useful to understand business analyst vs data analyst requirements to ensure you end up in the role that best suits you. 

While business analysts take a data-driven approach to arrive at key decisions for a company, data analysts are more involved in collecting the data itself. Despite a certain amount of crossover, you should think carefully about which route to take for your career path.