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Business analysts are professionals who evaluate current circumstances within a business and provide workable suggestions on how to make changes that will allow the company to move closer to achieving the desired goals or goals. In order to accomplish this task, the typical business analyst makes use of several different strategies that often involve working directly with company employees in both the drafting of processes and procedures and their implementation. While a business analyst may choose to work with several clients as an independent contractor, it is also possible for an analyst to be employed full-time with one firm.
A qualified business analyst will often fill multiple roles as he or she evaluates the operation of a business and compares that operation with the stated goals of the company. For this reason, the analyst will often begin the process with research into the business. This will include learning the history of the company, the nature of its product line, how it is currently organized, and what policies and procedures are currently in place. Once the analyst understands where the company has been and where it is today, it is possible to identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the business as it is composed currently, and begin the process of identifying changes that move the business forward.
As the analyst identifies potential changes in operating structure and procedure, he or she often works with one or more employees of the firm. This is important, as it allows the analyst to not only view the company as an observer but also from the perspective of an insider. The dual approach makes it possible for the analyst to identify nuances of the present operation that may be hard to detect otherwise, and allow for those nuances within the proposed changes. By functioning as a facilitator and working with a single employee or a group of employees, the analyst can often spearhead an effort that is ultimately more effective than would be possible otherwise.
Once ideas for changes are drafted and approved, a business analyst is often involved in the implementation of those changes. Again, this generally includes working closely with a group of employees to implement those changes in a logical sequence, while also evaluating the impact of those changes on the overall efficiency of the operation. Working with employees on the implementation also makes it possible to effectively overcome fears or other forms of resistance that may exist among employees, since they are involved in the pace that changes are made.
While some analysts offer a broad range of evaluation services to businesses, some choose to specialize in specific areas of a business operation. A business analyst may focus on information technology issues, accounting department function, sales and marketing procedures, or even on effective structuring of the executive arm of a business. Depending on the area of expertise, a business analyst may seek certification from an association or agency, although many analysts are former executives or managers who provide their services based on their own collective experience in the workplace. There are also some colleges around the world that offer business analyst degrees and certificates upon successful completion of the required curriculum.