The fortunes of the business analyst are on the rise: they are the IT staff most in demand for permanent and contract roles, according to a survey compiled by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) for KPMG.
Business analysts map the flow of information around the business and translate this into coherent, usable technology processes. In an insurance claim, for example, information must be readily available at each stage of the process and appropriate instructions and data passed to the next person or system.
Why BAs are in demand
Their current popularity is largely explained by the fresh round of investment in IT by business in order to emerge from recession. This time round business is being more hard-nosed and companies are determined that money spent has a real return. The business analyst with their dual business and IT take on the world, has a crucial role to play.
This post credit-crunch era of IT investment has seen a parallel rise in Agile projects, which is also creating demand for business analysts. With the new fashion for IT to be delivered in iterative lifecycles, which are constantly retuned, a business analyst has to be around at all times.
What in the job
You need to be an excellent listener and have a thorough understanding of what is important to the business. The ability to process a vast amount of information, have fantastic attention to detail, and to be methodical are also non-negotiable.
The blend of business and IT elements means the successful business analyst is a bit of a hybrid breed. The dearth of soft skills in the IT industry goes some way to explaining why business analysis is rapidly becoming one of the top jobs.
How to become a BA
Traditional career stepping stones into the role have been coder, developer and tester. Quality assurance is another good starter job as candidates have developed a good eye and method for handling detail but are coming at it from the other end of the problem.
The growing ‘professionalisation’ of the role, has enabled a new generation of graduates to go straight into role, however. Usually this is from a business studies degree that has included an IT placement, or a ’blended’ degree, such as e-skills’ ITMB.
Advice from BAs
Kate Alexander’s first job was as business design lead at BA airlines. Kate did an archaeology degree at Newcastle upon Tyne University, followed by an MSc in information systems at Brighton University. “Although I did not need an IT degree to get into BA – it has definitely been an advantage and helped me progress quicker”.
Thomas Thomas joined ITV as a business analyst, after a BEng manufacturing systems engineering degree at Leeds Metropolitan University and an MSc information technology from Kingston University. “My developer skills are handy when it comes to understanding issues or projects on a technical level”.
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