Three Essential Skillsets of Successful Business Analysts

Ice climber rappelling in cave

When putting together an implementation project team, many factors come into play. How many team members? What are the roles and responsibilities of each contributor? Who can work independently, as well as effectively, in a team environment? These are all common questions that need to be answered when building a strong project team, and interviews/review of all available resources can help determine who will be the best fit for each role. 

The business analyst (BA) role is critical on any implementation project, and requires the analyst to be not only pragmatic, but also proactive. During my years in the asset management space, I have gained many skills through a variety of experiences both managing business teams and shadowing colleagues, that have led me to become a successful BA and project contributor. Every project and program is different, but the skills learned from each experience are transferable to any future project.

While there are many qualities that make up a successful BA, below I outline the three most important skillsets I believe every successful business analyst should possess to be an effective project contributor:

Strong Communication

One of the greatest challenges in the asset management space is the language barrier—and I don’t mean simply translating English to Spanish. The disparate teams within an asset management firm tend to speak their own languages. For example, the operations team speaks in processes and procedures, where a new system can help enhance daily operations. Investment technology (IT) speaks in written code and technical workflows on how a system will work and manage the data within the system. A BA who can bridge the “language” barriers between operations, business, and IT teams is a necessity.

Attention to Detail

Business requirements are the catalyst for change and ensuring that they are documented in a comprehensive manner will help get the most out of any transformational program. BAs are responsible for gathering, defining, and documenting these requirements. In-depth findings on specific business functions can help ensure the project provides the expected value when it is delivered. In addition, BAs track and resolve issues throughout the project, assisting project managers and business sponsors as needed.

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

At the beginning of any program, roadmaps and timelines are established before work begins. Crossing the finish line is the true test of a project team, as there are always twists, turns, new challenges and issues on top of ever-changing requirements and priorities. Effective team members can’t push forward with the path established at the beginning of the project—they must be adaptable to changing requirements. Providing deep analysis of new issues, multiple solution options, and thorough testing can minimize time lost and get a program back on track.

There are many other assets I could list that contribute to an effective business analyst, but from my experience, the three outlined above are the most vital to the success of a BA’s contribution to any program. A great business analyst can recognize potential roadblocks early and provide valuable insight, which could help alter the course of a project. So as you build your next project team, consider how these skillsets factor into selecting the best business analysts for your team and program.