As we navigate into the third week of 2024, it’s a great time to reflect on the role of a Business Analyst. The richness of this role lies in the diverse range of essential skills it involves. With resilience and adaptability as cornerstones of success, it is crucial for Business Analysts to keep honing their abilities.
For this reason, this article turns the spotlight onto five key skills integral to the role of a Business Analyst. We are also sharing our top recommendations for courses to help deepen your expertise in these areas.
Being proficient in data analysis, including skillful utilization of data visualization and analytical tools, is crucial for business analysts.
I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of courses available on Dataquest. They have learning paths especially designed for the business analyst that is looking to dive deeper into Power BI and Tableau.
Check them out here:
Simplilearn also has a host of free data science and business analytics courses to choose from.
Understanding business operations, industry trends, and market dynamics ensures that business analysts are able to effectively respond to and shape the business environment.
While courses can provide fundamental knowledge and improve analytical thought, truly understanding your business and getting strategic insights often comes from hands-on experience within your specific operation or industry.
As a Business Analyst, there are several techniques you might use to gain these insights - including courses (and some previous blog articles) that will help you to better understand and use these techniques :
SWOT Analysis: This technique helps identify internal Strengths and Weaknesses along with external Opportunities and Threats. It’s a great starting point for understanding your own organization and the environment it operates within.
SWOT Analysis Masterclass: A Comprehensive End-to-End Guide on Udemy In this course, you will learn to master SWOT Analysis, employing an 8-step process for strategy development, exploring innovative modifications, implementing best practices, and critically evaluating its limitations and future aspects.
Those who are comfortable with the basics of the SWOT technique can have a look at this course Master SWOT Analysis & Business Strategy for Ongoing Success (Udemy) by Vicky Fung that also includes a look at strategy formation, implementation and performance measurements.
PESTLE Analysis: This evaluates macro-level factors affecting an industry or organization: Political, Economic, Sociocultural, Technological, Legal, and Environmental. It’s crucial for understanding wider trends and dynamics.
Although not a course, this article by Lucidity covers all the basics and variations of the PESTLE analysis technique including examples.
Benchmarking: This involves comparing your organization’s processes, products, or services against industry leaders or competitors to identify areas for improvement.
Alison.com has a free online Six Sigma Benchmarking course will guide you on how to identify industry leaders, compare their processes and performance metrics to your own, and understand the benefits of such comparisons.
Business Process Modeling: This involves creating visual representations of your organization’s processes. It’s especially useful for understanding the current state, designing improvements, and communicating changes.
One of the best process modeling courses I have come across and one that I always recommend to my mentees is the Business Process Modeling A-Z™: Learn BPMN 2.0 From Scratch on Udemy. In this course, you’ll progressively learn BPMN 2.0 standards and practices through a structured approach, using real-world examples to build and reinforce your skills and knowledge.
You can also check out our blog article where we do a comprehensive comparison on the top process modelling tools currently available on the market.
User Stories or Use Cases: These techniques can help you understand how different stakeholders interact with the organization’s processes or systems from their perspective.
Master the art of creating effective User Stories and Acceptance Criteria, incorporating techniques like INVEST, User Roles, Personas, and Story Maps in an engaging, interactive learning experience by having a look at this course on Udemy: User Story Masterclass: Your Agile Guide to User Stories
Competitor Analysis: Understanding what competitors are doing can provide valuable insights into market trends and reveal potential areas for differentiation.
Futurelearn in partnership with Coventry University offers the Competitor Analysis: From Business Level Strategy to Organisational Structures course aimed at intermediate-level business managers and students, you’ll be equipped to evaluate competitive landscapes and identify competitors’ strengths and weaknesses using various strategies, enhancing your strategic thinking in a global context. This course will also provide you with robust concepts and techniques for improved environmental scanning.
Market Segmentation: This is a technique used to understand the diverse types of customers that make up a market and their specific needs, preferences, and behaviors.
In this Marketing Customer Analytics, Segmentation, and Targeting course, you’ll learn critical concepts in customer and marketing analytics, including segmentation, targeting, niche and mass marketing strategies, location-based market analysis and data analytics.
Remember, each business is unique and might require different techniques, a combination of methods, or even completely bespoke tools to gain a true understanding of the business operations, industry trends, and market dynamics.
As a Business Analyst, possessing effective communication skills, such as active listening, negotiation, persuasion and the ability to deliver constructive feedback, is of utmost importance. These attributes are crucial as Business Analysts frequently act as intermediaries between various stakeholders and business professionals. Paying meticulous attention to honing these communication and interpersonal skills is essential, as a deficiency in this area can swiftly overshadow even inherent technical abilities.
LinkedIn Learning has a learning path specifically focused on developing your communication and interpersonal skills, touching on communicating with confidence, building trust, as well as non-verbal communication. Hosted by various experts, this is definitely a course I will recommend!
While expertise is not mandated, it’s crucial for a Business Analyst to be proficient in directing and managing projects, understanding workflows, and meticulously observing minute details, without losing sight of the overarching objectives. These set of skills contribute significantly to a Business Analyst’s toolkit.
In this course, you’ll acquire key project management skills necessary to oversee a full project lifecycle, undertake a comprehensive case study, access 15+ project management templates, and delve into Waterfall and Agile methodologies using Scrum. Additionally, you’ll explore the fundamental theory and best practices of project management.
A keen understanding of AI, Machine Learning, and other innovative technology trends can reinforce a Business Analyst’s professional arsenal, offering them the edge in today’s tech-dominant environment.
The internet is currently flooded with courses on Machine Learning and AI, one after the other claiming to be the best.
I have completed the following courses on Machine Learning and would recommend them to those who have an interest in machine learning.
Machine Learning for Absolute Beginners
While these are some valuable courses in each area, everyone’s path is unique. Please share any other courses or skills that have contributed to your professional development. Together, let’s shape the future of business analysis in 2024.