5 Skills Every Business Analyst Should Possess

Successful business analysts can come from all walks of life as long as they have the appropriate skill sets for the job. However, pinning down exactly which skills are most necessary is often about as tricky as finding the light switch in a darkened room. Having some business experience is a key factor in lighting the path, but the following skills are of further necessity to navigate a career as a business analyst.

1. Communication

Completing coursework and reading on interpersonal communication can go a long way in a business setting. Understanding others and speaking to their best interests make the difference in how a business considers its analysts’ input. When negotiating potential solutions and processes for a company, the ability to develop clear and concise proposals is exceedingly important, so BAs should focus on developing strong written communication skills as well. The best analysts go beyond simply informing their clients and companies, persuading them to take the right risks to achieve the greatest long-term success.

2. Time Management

Business analysts lead busy lives, often working upwards of 80 hours per week. Being able to complete more work in less time is essential to finding a good work/life balance on this career path. Detailed scheduling in and outside of the office is imperative for BAs to maintain healthy personal and professional networks and to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. A thorough education in computers and programs such as Microsoft Excel also helps save time for analysts as well as the professionals with whom they work by streamlining presentations and proposals.

3. Risk Assessment

Knowing how and when to present data is only useful after the business analyst has obtained and reviewed the appropriate data. Not all problems in a business system will be readily and easily identifiable, however, and finding the time to ask the right questions remains essential. Interpreting the data is another matter; experienced BAs know how to evaluate and frame the often high-risk strategies and changes that businesses need to engage in to achieve the best results. Aspiring analysts can benefit most by taking STEM classes and reading up on ways to improve quantitative reasoning and critical thinking skills.

4. Adaptability

Some business analyst jobs require the knowledge of particular, industry-specific programs and protocols. While everyone wants to be able to start a career with all the tools already at his or her disposal, the ability to learn new skills quickly is a highly desirable trait. Anyone who wishes to pursue a career as a BA must first establish a strong sense of responsibility and diligence as part of his or her character. One way to reinforce this trait is to look to a mentor in the field for guidance, whether a coworker or a professor, at least during the early stages of the career.

5. Independence

While a mentor is helpful for navigating in a new field, successful business analysts’ focus is always on improving themselves regardless of being asked to do so. The best BAs will not wait for someone else to poke holes in their plans; they are their own biggest critics. Strong candidates are those who take it upon themselves to study up on various business models and managerial techniques to draft solid proposals the first time around.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts stronger than average job growth in the financial and management analyst subsets of business management in the coming years. Thus, gaining the right skills is a major step toward gaining a better salary and standard of living.