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A Business Analyst (BA) is someone who analyzes an organization (real or hypothetical) and designs its processes and systems, assessing the business model and its integration with technology.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role as "a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals."
The role of a Business Analyst can also be defined as a bridge between the business problems and the technology solutions. Here business problems can be anything about business systems, for example the model, process, or method. The technology solutions can be the use of technology architecture, tools, or software application. So Business Analysts are required to analyze, transform and ultimately resolve the business problems with the help of technology.
There are at least four tiers of business analysis:
The Business Analyst is someone who is a part of the business operation and works with Information Technology to improve the quality of the services being delivered, sometimes assisting in Integration and Testing of new solutions.
The BA may also support the development of training material, participates in the implementation, and provides post-implementation support. This may involve the development of project plans and often requires project management skills.
The BA records requirements in some form of requirements management tool, whether a simple spreadsheet or a complex application. Within the systems development life cycle, the business analyst typically performs a liaison function between the business side of an enterprise and the providers of IT services.
There is no defined way to become a business analyst. Often the BA has a technical background, whether having worked as a programmer or engineer, or completing a Computer Science degree. Others may move into a BA role from a business role – their status as a subject matter expert and their analytical skills make them suitable for the role.
A BA does not always work in IT-related projects, as BA skills are often required in marketing and financial roles as well.
The International Institute of Business Analysis provides a certification program for business analysts (Certified Business Analyst Professional or CBAP), and defines a body of knowledge for the field (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge or BABOK). However, this is not well established yet as few BA jobs require that candidates be certified.
BAs work in different industries such as finance, banking, insurance, telecoms, utilities, software services and so on. Due to working on projects at a fairly high level of abstraction, BAs can switch between industries.
The business domain subject areas BAs may work in include workflow, billing, mediation, provisioning and customer relationship management. The telecom industry has mapped these functional areas in their Telecommunications Operational Map (eTOM) model, Banking in the Information Framework (IFW) and Emergency agencies in the Prevention Preparation Response and Recovery model (PPRR).
Finally, Business Analysts do not have a predefined and fixed role, as they can take a shape in operations scaling, sales planning, strategy devising or even in developmental process.