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The 7 Secrets of Good and Great Business Analysts

In my experience as a business analyst, manager of business analysts, and now trainer of business analysts, there are certain qualities that set high-performing business analysts apart. These qualities make them highly coveted by managers and pave the way to more career opportunities.

Being a great business analyst goes beyond foundational skills. It’s about being resourceful, utilizing the right tools at the right time, and creating alignment and clarity through active stakeholder engagement.

#1 – Good Business Analysts Have a Strong Foundational Business Analysis Skill Set

Tip number one is that good business analysts have a strong foundational business analysis skill set. They are strong communicators, problem solvers. They are able to think critically. They can create requirement specifications, analyze requirements, and create visual models. They can facilitate elicitation sessions and use the necessary business analysis tools.

#2 – Good Business Analysts are Resourceful

Tip number two is that good business analysts are resourceful. They 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

Tip number three is that good business analysts grow their toolbox of skills. They are not content to do the same thing, the same way, every time. For a long time, I applied use cases in every requirement situation. Gaining confidence to apply a wider variety of techniques really increased my marketability and made me more effective. Good business analysts know the outcome that they are trying to create and select the right tool for the right job instead of just relying on a really small set of go-to tools and making it work somehow in every situation.

If you are short on tools, don’t worry. I recorded a video on the five types of requirements documentation that business analysts create. If you haven’t seen that video yet, make sure to watch it after finishing this one by clicking below.

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

That brings us to tip number four, which is great business analysts create alignment and ownership around the solution. It’s really easy to be the one who just like writes the requirements down and does what the stakeholders ask for. As a new business analyst, you might be in a role where that’s what you are expected to do, or where even that’s the biggest contribution you can make at first. But a high performing business analyst is able to resolve conflicts and ensure that when that solution is delivered, the business truly owns it and is prepared to use it effectively.

This starts by understanding the business process or the underlying problem to be solved that can lead you in the right direction. Creating clarity, which we’re going to talk about next, is a very first step.

#5 – Good Business Analysts Create Clarity

Tip number five is that business analysts create clarity. Business analysts bring a unique blend of critically important soft or power skills along with technical analytical skills and together those two balancing skill sets help the business analyst create true clarity. Clarity does not mean that you simply get sign-off on the spec. A good business analyst doesn’t rely on artificial sign offs and hundred page documents. They use analysis techniques to drill into the details and ask relevant questions. They get buy-in, not just sign-off, during the verification and validation process. They get into appropriate details to ensure that true clarity emerges.

#6 – Good Business Analysts Actively Engage Stakeholders

That leads us to tip number six, where good business analysts actively engage stakeholders.

High performing business analysts engage stakeholders in the entire discovery, analysis, and validation process.

  • They use active listening techniques to ensure stakeholders feel heard.

  • They set clear expectations as a way to build trust.

  • They consistently follow through on their commitments and don’t make promises that they can’t keep.

  • They honor confidentiality agreements, never talk behind anyone’s back, and are generally seen as above office gossip.

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