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The Role Of A Business Analyst

What is the work like?

Business analysts are problem solvers. Often using the latest software programs, they research impediments to a company's efficiency or profitability and recommend solutions.

Analysts may identify problems with a company's supply chain, for example, and help implement changes to improve its operation. They may search for flaws in a company's mechanisms for dealing with stock control, despatch, orders and payments.

Some business analysts work for the company they research or they may be employed by an outside agency like a consulting or software firm. If they work for an outside firm, they often work on a project basis, moving on to another company after a project is completed. Respected international business analysts sometimes are brought in to help large global corporations.

Analysts must be able to review a client's needs, identify realistic improvements, present recommendations to the management team and work with employees to implement the changes.

Hours and environment

Business analysts often work a standard work week of Monday through Friday. However, they must be flexible to project demands that may require them to work evenings and weekends, especially to meet deadlines.

They usually work in company offices, although they may be required to visit a company's other work sites. Analysts from a consulting or software firm may be required to travel away from home to a client's location. Some analysts work part time.

Analysts often work with other professionals such as programmers and systems analysts. Their roles vary depending on the client and the size of the project.

Salary and other benefits

Salaries of the top analysts with significant experience can top 60,000 a year. Annual starting salaries average 17,000 and 25,000 while analysts with some experience may earn 30,000 to 45,000 a year. Salaries may vary based upon the employer and its geographical location.

Skills and personal qualities

Strong communications skills are required for business analysts because they must work closely with a company's management and employees. They must be able to grasp information quickly and understand a client's needs. They should have good project management skills to be able to create a plan of action for improvements. They also must have a thorough knowledge of information technology and stay informed about new business and software innovations.

Getting in

Some business analysts are promoted from within an organisation, if they have demonstrated business and analytical acumen as well as knowledge of the company's processes and computer systems. Others become analysts by earning an appropriate vocational or college degree.

Analysts may have a two-year National Diploma in information technology from a programme approved by the Business and Technology Education Council or a Higher National Diploma in business, computing or information technology. They also may have degrees in business administration or finance. Courses in accounting, business systems, computer science, mathematics, physics and software engineering are helpful.

A higher degree program can take three years or four years if it is a sandwich degree that includes some work experience.

A new Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology Management for Business currently is available at a dozen universities and provides an educational basis in innovation and project management.

Business analysts work in a wide variety of areas. Job opportunities can be found in all business sectors, including finance, industry, non-profit organisations, retail and transportation. They also may work for accounting or management consulting firms as well as software or information technology companies.

Many jobs are concentrated in South East England and London, although opportunities exist across the UK and internationally. Vacancies can be found in newspapers, trade publications and on recruitment or company websites.

Training

Training for business analysts often is provided by their employers. Training also is available from vocational schools and other providers where students can earn National Vocational Qualification in information technology.

Business analysts can earn certification to improve their professional status by taking examinations sponsored by the British Computer Society and the Institute for the Management of Information Systems.

Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is another organization that offers training for business analysts and IT professionals.