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Five Characteristics of a Great Business Analyst

Great business analysts are at the center of successful technology projects, pulling together and connecting all the aspects of the challenge to drive a solution that will serve the organization and its end users. Interacting with end users, developers, designers, functional leads, executives, external parties, and more, business analysts are served by strong technical skills as well as excellent soft skills.

At KSM Consulting, our business analysts don’t shy away from difficult, complex challenges. In fact, they play an integral part in the end-to-end success of a project. That’s because our business analysts put people before technology, ask great questions, always think ahead, turn data into useful information, and fearlessly problem solve.

1. People Before Technology
A burning passion to help people is what drives every great business analyst. This passion is fueled by a curiosity of both “why” and “how” end users interact day-to-day. To them, there’s nothing more important than gaining knowledge about the end user and nothing more exciting than the opportunity to shadow one. At the end of the day, technology serves and impacts people. A business analyst’s role is to understand the impact of the technology at hand and work to minimize the short-term pains in order to maximize the long-term gains.

2. Ask Great Questions
A great business analyst does not have all the answers but instead asks lots of questions. Whether pre-determined or impromptu questions, a business analyst is not afraid to ask challenging, occasionally awkward questions. The goal is never to make anyone uncomfortable, simply push end users to think differently. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a business analyst to ask the last question in the meeting. Beware when asking, “Are there any additional questions?”

(Hint: Most questions from business analysts start with “Why… ”.)

3. Always Think Ahead
A great business analyst thinks three-to-four steps ahead of every phase of a project. Behind the scenes, while wearing their critical thinking hats, they’re performing heuristic techniques like what-if analysis, using 5 Whys and Fishbone Diagrams, and identifying risks, issues, and opportunities. Ultimately, to guide the project toward success, a business analyst serves as an order-maker versus an order-taker.

4. Turns Data into Useful Information
Data is one of a business analyst’s most critical resources. The best don’t shy away from diving into data to find trends, insights, and more. At the end of the day, a business analyst is responsible for taking data and turning it into useful information. Therefore, consideration of all of the input to understand a situation or challenge inside and out is critical.

5. Perception of a Challenge
A great business analyst is a fearless problem solver. He/she understands that it is easy to point out problems, but solving one is where real value exists. A great business analyst takes people into consideration while finding innovative ways to address complex challenges – arguably the most difficult part and key to long-term success.

Working alongside people, asking challenging questions, and performing extensive analysis to turn data into information are all elements of a great business analyst. At the end of the day, a great business analyst is content when they’ve used their skills to solve a challenge that allows people to work more effectively.

About the Author

Max Brundige is a business and systems analyst for KSM Consulting. Daily, Max is focused on connecting people and process through the right application of technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.