Today’s business environment is fast-paced, dynamic, and ever more demanding. Organizations are forced to deal with challenges that didn’t exist several decades back. Competition is stiff, with the playing field rapidly leveling out and barriers to entry falling off. Consumers have become more demanding while regulators tighten oversight.
Competing effectively in an environment such as this is undoubtedly challenging. It will test not only your business acumen but also your perseverance. But unlike in the old days, you now have countless resources to help make your business more efficient and equip you to make better decisions. A business analyst (BA) is one of those essential resources. But does your company need one? Keep reading to find out.
Who Is a Business Analyst?
In simple terms, a BA analyzes business data to identify problems, find solutions, and make recommendations to improve your business or part of it.
They leverage a range of tech tools and resources, from SQL and Power BI to Tableau and R. They are proficient in extracting valuable data insights by sifting through large volumes of data obtained from internal and external business-related sources. In other words, they make raw data much more meaningful so you can make better decisions and grow your business.
Now, to dispel a common misunderstanding, it is important to note that a business analyst is not part of the IT function. Analysts may work with your IT department to extract, store, and organize data using various tech tools, platforms, and resources. But their association typically ends there.
That being said, some analysts specialize in particular areas. Those who focus on IT-related improvements are called IT business analysts. Their role is typically limited to the IT field. But the analysts we discuss in this article are generalists who support the overall strategies and decisions of the organization. These BAs will work closely with all company stakeholders to understand their needs and challenges and coordinate communications based on the project requirements.
Another term often confused with “business analyst” is “data analyst”. The latter primarily transforms data into useful data insights. But the former is more involved in leveraging their findings to improve business processes, recommend strategies, and support organizational decision-making.
Many large-scale businesses have dedicated units with several business analysts. But not every company will require a standalone department. You can hire a BA part-time or full-time or even as a consultant on a project basis.
Where can you find them? Advertising on job boards is one option. In addition, Leadar is an excellent resource for finding a qualified analyst in your industry. You can also check on LinkedIn or speak to a recruitment agency.
Understanding market pay rates is also essential before making a decision. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a business analyst is $76,422 per year. But it will depend on a variety of factors, such as experience, position, and expectations.
Why Would Your Company Need a Business Analyst?
Here are seven ways a business analyst could add value and support your business.
1. Developing Business Strategies
BAs can play an important role in developing business strategies for your organization. They can guide you in prioritizing needs, optimizing resources, and redirecting investments. Their role could focus on a specific area or the overall business. For example, they could help formulate marketing strategies to improve customer acquisition or direct your resources toward improving revenue through technology adoption.
2. Recommending Effective Solutions
Problem-solving and creative thinking are two of the core strengths of business analysts. These professionals will work closely with your business’s senior management, employees, and other stakeholders to understand specific problems hindering organizational performance and growth. They will analyze your business based on data insights and recommend effective solutions using new perspectives and fresh approaches. These can include managing change, improving team performance, and reducing costs.
3. Improving Business Processes
BAs can analyze your business processes and help improve them for better results. They will work together with respective stakeholders, conduct surveys, and hold workshops to extract critical input and identify roadblocks. With unbiased and objective-driven analysis, they can make recommendations to improve the overall efficiency, productivity, and output of the business through process enhancements customized to meet business needs.
4. Conducting Project Feasibility Studies
If you are planning on making a substantial investment in a particular project, a business analyst could help assess project feasibility through in-depth analysis of market, competitor, and business data. Their recommendations and insights could help you identify the project’s financial, operational, technical, and legal viability. Ultimately, you get to make a more informed decision on whether to pursue the investment or focus on a better opportunity.
5. Identifying Market Opportunities
Market opportunities could materialize in the form of new products, technologies, tools, investments, and various other ways. BAs can help you identify and understand them. For example, they could help your business determine market gaps you could cater to. They could redirect focus toward economic, social, legal, or technology-led developments that could create new opportunities for your organization in the future. All these will have the potential to drive business success.
6. Conducting Risk Assessments
Analysts could evaluate your organization’s internal and external environment to recognize current and future risks that could affect business growth. They could assess your entire operation and develop risk reports and recommendations to mitigate, minimize, or avoid potential risks. They could also carry out scenario planning exercises to identify social, economic, legal, and other uncertainties that may affect the business. These efforts are critical to preparing contingency plans and ensuring business continuity.
7. Developing Business Forecasts
Another critical area these professionals could support you with is forecasting. They can analyze past trends, growth strategies, and market factors to make essential recommendations regarding future forecasts for your business.
BAs are problem solvers and creative thinkers who stand to add significant value to organizations and industries. Their focus on data insights and broad-based operational improvements has made them a valuable resource in high demand.
Business analysts could support your organization in many ways, from developing business strategies and improving processes to conducting feasibility studies and risk assessments. Depending on your requirements, you can hire them on a part-time, full-time, or even project basis.