What Is a Business Analyst?

Are you thinking about becoming or hiring a business analyst? Are you clear on what their role is exactly? Business analyst roles vary quite a bit so it’s natural to be unsure of what exactly it is they do and what role they can play in your company. If you read two job descriptions for business analyst roles, you may be surprised to see how incredibly different they look. That said, there are commonalities between all business analyst roles. Keep reading to learn more about the career of a business analyst.

What Is a Business Analyst?

The role of a business analyst is to analyze a business or organization, including its documents, processes, use of technology, as well as its business model. By reviewing and analyzing these factors and various data, an analyst can offer insight and guidance into improving the operations of the business. Business analysts can work in house or on a consultant basis.

Business analysts spend their time reviewing a business or organization and making plans to improve it in the future. Their role involves taking in information from various executives and stakeholders to get an understanding of ways the business could change and grow moving forward. A business analyst may work in-house for an organization or work on a consulting basis as they may be needed on an intermittent basis, depending on the size of an organization.

According to the International Institute of Business Analysis, or the IIBA, the formal definition of business analysis is: “the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysis enables an enterprise to articulate needs and the rationale for change, and to design and describe solutions that deliver value.” 

In the simplest of terms, a business analyst is someone who identifies business issues and needs and provides appropriate solutions. 

Types of Business Analysts

The definition of a business analyst is fairly vague but it is intentionally. Within the primary role of a business analyst are several subtypes of business analysts or specializations one can pursue. Here are the primary types of business analysts:

  • Systems analyst: This analyst is technology and IT focused. They evaluate and optimize the technological tools and systems used by a given business.
  • Business model analysis: This analyst is focused on an organization or business’s policies and market approach.
  • Business developer: This analyst may be the most common. They focus on the business’s needs and potential opportunities to pursue.
  • Process design: This analyst is focused on standardizing, optimizing and improving a business’s various workflows.

Business analysts can specialize in a variety of areas and skills. Though you may start your career performing the general tasks of a business analyst, over time you may find that you enjoy certain aspects more than others and can hone your skills to specialize in the area of your choice. 

Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

The responsibilities of a business analyst will vary from one job to another but some basic responsibilities are to be expected at any company or organization. Business analysts can be expected to be responsible for:

  • Review, analyze and identify business problems, opportunities and solutions to major problems the business faces
  • Identify and organize requirements needed to solve business issues
  • Communicate problems and proposing solutions to company stakeholders
  • Document specific requirements for proposed changes and solutions 
  • Ensuring business can meet standards to execute proposed changes and solutions to company problems  

Some analysts may assist with execution of proposed solutions, whereas others may solely provide recommendations for the business to execute with existing personnel. 

Business Analyst Salary: How Much Do Business Analysts Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track salary data for the title of business analyst specifically, but it lists the 2019 median pay for a similar title of a management analyst as $85,260 per year or $40.99 per hour. Indeed, a popular career website lists the average base salary of a business analyst as $95,183 per year in Los Angeles with opportunities for cash bonuses. Of course, these numbers will vary from region to region, with metropolitan areas typically offering more generous compensation. Additionally, compensation may vary due to years of experience, size of company, certifications or education, among other factors. 

What Industries Hire Business Analysts?

Business analysts often work for large, multi-national organizations or corporations but may also be hired on a consulting basis. You may be able to find jobs in finance, insurance, medicine, government, utilities or other similar industries.

Business Analyst Roles Can Vary

You may see many overlapping responsibilities when researching business analyst roles. But you likely noticed some differences, too. Business analyst roles can vary widely and some analysts may have specializations or industry expertise that alters their approach to the job. Business analysts can find themselves working on projects related to logistics, processes, software and even regulatory work. 

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