What Does a Business Analyst Do?

BrainStation’s Business Analyst career guide can help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in analysis. To start, find out more about what a Business Analyst does.

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A Business Analyst uses data analytics and other tools to help companies evaluate and improve business processes and operational efficiency, deliver data-driven recommendations, and ultimately identify new opportunities to make revenue and add value.

The answer to the question “what does a Business Analyst do” will largely depend on the specific industry and scope of the role. BAs sit at the intersection between data analytics and business, and in some jobs, Business Analyst responsibilities will skew more toward analyzing data and business operations, while in other jobs Business Analysts need to spend more of their time making recommendations to senior management and company leadership.

What is a Business Analyst?

A Business Analyst must understand the priorities of both business leaders and users alike while balancing ideas for improvement with an understanding of financial realities. In many business analysis jobs, they might also use data sets to improve products, hardware, tools, software, services, or processes.

Business Analyst Job Description

Although the demands of a specific business analysis role will vary depending on their industry, seniority, and specific job role, most Business Analysts spend their time conducting research, analyzing data, gathering information to understand business requirements, developing clear and actionable strategies, and ultimately communicating those strategies to stakeholders.

Almost every Business Analyst position will require a bachelor’s degree, though not necessarily in a specific discipline, while many in the field will have more advanced degrees (that usually correlate to a higher average Business Analyst salary).

Typically, you will find all of the following tasks included in a Business Analyst job description:

  • Leading ongoing reviews of business processes and the business model and leading the development of optimization strategies
  • Evaluating and improving business processes, anticipating requirements and business problems, unearthing areas for improvement, and leading the development and implementation of solutions
  • Staying up-to-date on the latest process and IT advancements to modernize systems
  • Performing requirement analysis
  • Working closely with internal and external stakeholders, clients, technicians, and managerial staff
  • Effectively communicating insights and plans to cross-functional team members and management
  • Gathering, documenting, and sharing important information from meetings and producing useful reports
  • Allocating resources and maintaining cost efficiency
  • Ensuring solutions meet business requirements and needs
  • Leading project management initiatives, developing project plans, and monitoring project performance
  • Updating, implementing, and maintaining procedures
  • Prioritizing initiatives based on business needs and requirements
  • Monitoring deliverables and ensuring projects are completed on time

Jobs in Business Analytics

There are certainly some job roles that share some of the same responsibilities as a Business Analyst. Some jobs in business analytics or that relate to it include:

IT Business Analyst

The IT Business Analyst’s role is to bridge the gap between information technology and business. IT Business Analysts work to elicit requirements from stakeholders, create business requirements documents, and manage functional specifications.

Business Intelligence Analyst

Business Intelligence Analyst is a role that uses data analytics, data visualization, and data modeling techniques and technologies to find trends that help other departments, Managers, and executives make decisions to improve their businesses. Business Intelligence Analysts need to have strong business analytics skills.

Business Systems Analyst

Generally, the Business Systems Analyst role identifies someone who is responsible for the technical design of a software system but may not do actual coding. However, unlike a Business Analyst role, a Systems Analyst needs to have a fairly deep understanding of technology.

Operations Research Analyst

Operations Research Analysts use a variety of complex techniques to solve business problems and ultimately provide value and solutions. Companies usually hire an Operations Research Analyst to dig deeper into their labor requirements, product delivery and distribution systems, and their day-to-day operations. Operations Research Analysts usually have advanced Business Analyst skills as well as potentially a background in mathematics or computer science.

Management Analyst

Management Analysts are consultants who specialize in improving the efficiency of organizations and solve operational issues. Management Analysts often work either for independent consulting firms or they are self-employed, as they can then provide a valuable outside perspective to issues around business administration and processes.

Quality Assurance Engineer

A Quality Assurance Engineer will typically take care of test planning and test case development. They could also be responsible for the creation or maintenance of a test environment. A QA Engineer can move towards a BA role by looking at their test plans as a business process and overseeing changes that occur during the test cycle.

Project Manager

Project management and business analysis roles are frequently combined into one under this job title. Project Managers can move towards a role more focused on business analysis by focusing on the business needs, the requirements process, the business process, and product scope.

Software Developer

In a small organization with no dedicated Business Analyst, it’s quite possible a Software Developer may actually conduct business analysis and data analysis. A Software Developer could be involved in reviewing requirements specifications, creating design documentation, and managing change requests. A Software Developer who wants to become a Business Analyst could review or update requirements documentation, incorporate requirements models into technical design documentation, and begin to ponder business needs and requirements.

Product Manager

The Product Manager is the product owner, and is therefore responsible for defining the why, when, and what of any product that the engineering team builds. As product owner, the Product Manager must lead cross-functional teams from a product’s conception all the way through its entire life cycle.

Business Analyst vs Data Analyst

Since data is a core element in both jobs, it can be confusing for some to determine what’s the difference between a Business Analyst and a Data Analyst.

A Data Analyst’s work consists of defining, collecting, cleaning, modeling, and analyzing data of all types; often, but not always, this is done in order to identify information that will help businesses make better decisions. Data Analyst job responsibilities include:

  • Researching to identify opportunities for growth
  • Data requirement gathering to understand what information is needed
  • Data collection
  • Data cleaning
  • Modeling and analyzing data to identify significant patterns and trends
  • Presenting findings to other members of the organization

While business analysis includes a great deal of data analysis, it considers a broader context for that data. A Business Analyst looks at the way that data fits into an organization’s larger operations – including aspects that aren’t necessarily captured by large sets of data, such as organizational structure or workflow protocols.

In that way, Business Analysts are fundamentally Consultants, making data-driven recommendations and working with measurable initiatives to monitor change and gauge success.