A career as a business analyst, or BA, can be rewarding – it can involve some technical areas that IT professionals are known for, and can involve communicating and working with other people outside the information technology world which can be great as well. Find out more about how to become a BA in this article.

There Isn’t Really A Set Business Analyst Career Path

I feel I should highlight this up front. There isn’t really a specific path to becoming a business analyst. There aren’t any (that I know of) degrees in becoming a BA. Sure, there may be introductory business analyst roles out there, but you still need some knowledge and probably some experience to be able to be a successful business analyst.

If you speak to business analysts you know through work or other connections, you might find that they started in one of two methods:
- Began in a technical role (e.g. development) and moved into business analysis
- Began in a business role (e.g. a business user or manager) and moved into business analysis
When I started as a BA, I was originally a software developer that moved into a more analysis role. This doesn’t always need to be the case – you could work in networking or testing and make a similar move. I would think that most of my readers, who are information technology professionals, would make the transition from technical to BA, rather than from business user to BA.

How To Move From Development Into Business Analyst

Ok, so assuming you’re in a software development position (or a similar IT role, such as testing, networking, support, etc), and you want to move into business analysis. What do you need to know? What are your biggest questions and what should you do first?

Well, the role of a BA, as mentioned in a recent article, is to determine business requirements to solve a business need, and turn them into technical details that the IT teams can work with. You may have been involved in this before, from the IT side, or you might not have. No problem if you haven’t.

You should look to develop the skills you need for a business analysis role, such as:
- Communication skills (speaking with people, asking questions, phone calls)
- Establishing requirements based on talks with users
- Creating documents that can be understood by business users
- Industry knowledge

Communication Skills for a Business Analyst

A big part of a business analyst’s role is communication. They would spend a significant amount of time speaking with clients, team members, project managers, team leaders and other stakeholders for a project. Communication skills improve with time, but it’s a good idea to practice yours, work on them, determine what your weaknesses are and improve on those as well. Areas such as listening, asking the right questions, speaking to people on the phone, group discussions and negotiation all contribute to the communication skills that you’ll need.

Requirements Gathering Is An Important Skill

Learning how to gather requirements is something you’ll need to know if you want to become a business analyst. Being able to talk to users, determine what their problems are with current processes, and document them in a method they can be matched to a requirement of a system is a skill that takes practice and experience.
Basically, a requirement, or business requirement, is a thing that a software or system needs to be able to do to achieve what it is being built for. For example, I’m writing this article in Microsoft Word – one of the requirements for building that program is that it needs to save files in a certain format. If it couldn’t save files, it wouldn’t be a successful application.
Determining priority of requirements is important as well – this would be found from the users that you talk to. To use the Microsoft Word example again, the Spell check feature is a requirement, but possibly not a high priority one – the program will still operate without it.

Industry Knowledge Is Great For Business Analysis

Knowledge of the industry that you work in is a good way to help your business analysis career. Sure, building an information technology system may just mean getting requirements and making something from those requirements, but to get those requirements it helps to know about the field that the company is in. If the company is in the finance field, and if you have knowledge of bank transactions and loan processes, it could come in handy for determining requirements. Users have this experience, where IT people don’t usually know a lot about the industries if they’re starting as a business analyst.
It will help you get better, more accurate requirements and improve the overall quality of the product.

In summary, if you’re in an IT role and searching for how to become a business analyst, I believe that working on the skills that business analysts need, (such as communication, requirements gathering and industry knowledge) will be a great way to step into a career as a business analyst.

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