Business systems analysts work in a corporate environment. But the ubiquity of IT and data processes means that practically every company needs business systems analysts. Business systems analysts can work in practically every sector: from finance, to retail, to manufacturing, to research, to government. It’s even possible to work as a consultant, slinging one’s services from sector to sector on a project-by-project basis. But wherever they work, a business systems analyst is likely to call an office home base, as this a technically demanding role that also requires frequent communication between departments.
A business systems analyst acts as a bridge between business strategy and technical operations. Generally, a business systems analyst reports up to top management in a chain of command that terminates with the CIO. In their day-to-day work, however, they are expected to interface frequently with IT leadership. Merging these two worlds and acting as an interpreter between them are key responsibilities of a business systems analyst.
The responsibilities of business systems analysts can be grouped into two categories: the technical and the relational.
In the technical category, business systems analysts must get in the weeds with the technology they’re using to implement business solutions. This means performing rigorous testing, delivering data-driven reporting, and developing new systems architecture.
On the relational side, business systems analysts need to discern (from leadership) the strategic goals of a business, and then translate these goals into achievable tasks for an IT team. This means interdepartmental collaboration, frequent communication, and project management.
Typical daily responsibilities of a business systems analyst include:
The precise tasks of a business system analyst vary depending on their employer and their employer’s specific needs. But the first ingredient in the special sauce of a great business systems analyst is the ability to discern what those specific needs are, even if the employer isn’t necessarily sure. And the second ingredient is being able to deliver systems that meet those needs, even if the technology that does that isn’t well-known in the company.
Business systems analysts need a unique blend of skills. At its core, this is a heavily technical role, and requires an understanding of SQL, software development, and data analytics. But in order to implement that technical knowledge, business systems analysts also need soft skills like communication, leadership, and project management. Organizational skills are at a premium here, as being able to manage one’s time, resources, and the input of multiple stakeholders is a critical element in delivering successful business system solutions.
Most business systems analysts build their foundational skills by earning a bachelor’s degree in a subject like computer science. This gives them a concrete understanding of the terminology and capabilities of the technology which will be used to meet a business’s strategic needs. While it’s possible to start working with just a bachelor’s degree, some business systems analysts seek out graduate-level education in an area like data science to give them a better understanding of the modern business landscape and the factors that drive it.
Business systems analysts may choose to pursue professional certification as a way to demonstrate both their expertise and their commitment to staying current in the field.
The premier certification for business systems analysts is the Certification of Capability in Business Analytics (CCBA) from the International Institute of Business Analytics (IIBA). The rewards for achieving this level of certification aren’t purely idealistic, either: CCBA-holders earn, on average, over 10 percent more than their non-certified counterparts.
Do note that while the roles of business analyst and business systems analyst are different (the former being less technical than the latter), there’s still a lot of overlap between the two, and the IIBA caters to both parties. Certification in business analysis demonstrates that a business systems analyst has the collaborative project management skills needed to take on positions of high responsibility.
In addition to tiered certifications based on work experience, the IIBA also offers specialized certifications in areas like Agile analysis and data analytics. The CCBA designation in particular affirms one’s ability to work with stakeholders, model business processes, and evaluate opportunities for better outcomes.
In order to be eligible for the CCBA designation, applicants must have: a minimum of 3,750 hours of relevant work experience over the last seven years; 21 hours of professional development over the last four years; and professional references. Once deemed eligible, applicants must pass an exam that covers the following areas: business analysis planning and modeling; elicitation and collaboration; requirements life cycle management; strategy analysis; requirements analysis and design definition; and solution evaluation. Application fees and exam fees are $575 in total, and CCBA-holders must recertify every three years by completing 60 continuing development units (CDUs).
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