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To start things off; let us state that, in case you where to ask ten different HR Professionals what a Business Analyst is, which you would likely get about 10 different answers. Well that's basically the problem that the emerging field of "Business Analysis" is facing. So, to find a little clarity on the matter, let's begin by dividing all analysts to the two main categories; business (non-technical) and technical. These can be the two major divisions within the title. This is not to say that one isn't able to or on occasion required to operate on both sides of the fence. This just goes to prove how confusing the name "Business Analyst" really is.
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The first side of the very wide coin is the company side. This will be those professionals who employ a particular methodology to provide solutions that raise the value of an organization or a business.
The opposite side of the coin will be the IT or Technical side. Now, this side has a simple use of implementing specific methods to provide "technical" solutions to problems, which increases the capability of the business, which in turn increases the value of a business. Confused yet? OK, moving on.
Many occasions analysts are hired to not only find the problems but to also supply solutions. This is a completely different role than a project supervisor. As a general rule a company will acquire the services of an analyst or a firm to address a specific issue or problem that it is facing. The analyst will then go to the business, collect information, apply principles and methodologies, and create a solution. At this time a requirements analyst may evaluate the needs and requirements (this may or might not be contained in the solutions initially provided). This information is then passed on to a Project Manger. The PM will then follow his/her proven methodologies and techniques to produce the final product on budget and on time, hopefully.
Fundamentally to describe what a business analyst would be, we must spell out the job that a company analyst does. Because it is irrelevant if the title is business analyst, process analyst, requirements analyst, operations analyst, business systems analyst, systems analyst, consultant, programmer/analyst, etc; the sole thing that makes an analyst an analyst is the systematic approach to issues and solutions through predefined methodic principles.
Just a Couple of these characteristics of a BA will be that the analyst;
• Works with businesses to identify development opportunities within processes or operations
• Gathers, documents, and assesses needs and requirements that a company may have
• The BA solves problems that companies have
There are various organizations that create or adhere to accepted standards of training in the field of company analysis. One of which are the certifying agency of the International Institute of Business Analysis another could be the Object Management Group. These associations will adhere strictly to specific methodologies that if properly employed will lead not only the analyst, but their customers, to an effective result regardless of current situations.
Methodologies may fluctuate greatly depending on the areas of the specific analyst or business. No single strategy is right or wrong; nevertheless do keep in mind that there are several well defined sets of areas that can be verified using a simple internet search. If an analyst asserts to use a particular system or discipline, check out.
So just to sum everything up, a business analyst is essentially defined as someone who performs particular tasks to create your business better. Like it's been said earlier, in case you have a problem with your car, you find a mechanic. In case you have a issue with your health, you find a doctor. If you have a problem with your business, you find a company analyst.