The 7 Secrets of Good Business Analysts

What separates a mediocre business analyst from a good one? What makes the good business analysts the best at what they do?

key mazeBased on my experience as a BA and a manager of BAs, here are the qualities that good business analysts have – meaning that these BAs are appreciated by stakeholders, coveted by recruiters and hiring managers, and have a wide variety of career options open to them.

#1 – Good Business Analysts Have the Basics Covered

First things first, they’ve got the important business analyst skills covered. Good BAs are good communicators, problem-solvers, and think critically. They can create requirements specifications, analyze requirements, create visual models, facilitate elicitation sessions, and use the necessary business analyst tools.

This is the foundation…But then you must do a little more.

#2 – Good Business Analysts are Resourceful

Business analysts know how to find the answers to questions and don’t wait for the answers to come to them. They find alternative paths through the organization and involve the right people at the right time. Good business analysts rarely get stopped for long and can often work through challenging situations to come through to a solution.

#3 – Good Business Analysts Grow their Toolbox of Skills

Good business analysts are not content to do the same things the same way every time. For a long time, I applied use cases in every requirements situation. Gaining confidence to apply wide variety of business analysis techniques increased my marketability and made me more efficient.

Good BAs select the right tool for the job instead of relying on their go-to tools and making it work for every situation.

#4 – Good Business Analysts Create Alignment and Ownership Around the Solution

It’s really easy to be the one who writes down what the stakeholders ask for. And as a new BA, you might be in a role where you are expected to do this or where it’s the biggest contribution you can make at first.

But good business analysts do more. And this means that you are in the middle of resolving conflicts and ensuring that when the solution is delivered, the business truly owns that this is what they wanted and is prepared to use it.

Understanding the business process or the underlying problem to be solved can lead you in this direction. So can creating clarity, which we’ll talk about next.

#5 – Good Business Analysts Create Clarity

Business analysts bring a unique blend of  critically important soft skills and analysis skills. Together these two skill sets help the business analyst create clarity. And clarity does not simply mean that you get sign-off on the spec.

A good business analyst doesn’t rely on sign-offs and hundred-page documents. They use analysis techniques to drill into details and ask relevant questions. They get buy-in, not just sign-off, during the verification and validation process. And they get into the appropriate details to ensure true clarity emerges.

#6 – Good Business Analysts Don’t Rely on Cookies

Yes, developers and stakeholders like cookies. Who doesn’t? It’s nice to feel appreciated for all of your hard work. But good business analysts don’t rely on bribes to build and sustain positive relationships.

  • They use active listening techniques to ensure stakeholders feel heard. 
  • They set clear expectations as a way to build trust, consistently follow through on their commitments, and don’t make promises they can’t keep.
  • They honor confidentiality agreements, never talk behind anyone’s back, and are generally seen as above office gossip.

Good business analysts are both professional and good to work with.

#7 – Good Business Analysts Have a Strong Dash of Project Management

This might sound like a bit of heresy, so let me explain. Good BAs are not only not project managers but they understand with perfect clarity why they are not project managers.

That being said, good business analysts know how to manage within business analysis.

  • They are proactive and dependency aware.
  • They manage themselves to commitments and deadlines.
  • They get stakeholders involved at the right times and in the right ways and keep everything moving.

And more than all of this, good business analysts have a strong eye for scope. While it can be fun to figure out what we might pack if everything but the kitchen sink fits into the car, good business analysts realize that implementation constraints nearly always get in the way of achieving the full vision the first time out. And so they keep a close eye on value and feasibility and guide their stakeholders toward a set of requirements that can actually get implemented.

Get Going on Becoming a Good Business Analyst

Interested in learning more about becoming a good, or even a great, BA? Then I highly suggest checking out these posts next:

Are You Stretching Yourself to Become a Great BA?

Your Organization Needs You To Step Up

I’m Letting Go of the Big Thick Requirements Document. Are You?

And There’s One More Thing

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Laura Brandenburg

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