How to assess and hire a business analyst

Nowadays, businesses require more cost-effective and innovative solutions to implement the technology excellently. They have to communicate with their respective stakeholders excellently. This is the primary reason due to which businesses need to hire a business analyst.

BA or Business Analytics' role has become an essential aspect for every business as it can bridge the gap between the business goals and information technology capabilities. The BA can be specialized in several skills like corporate management, inventory management, and technology structure. But here usually every business needs some of the core skills in BA like identifying and defining the current business challenges, evaluating the processes or procedures of the company, collecting and analyzing data, forming, suggesting, and deploying the new strategies to meet the business goals and challenges.

Today through this blog post, we are going to highlight the job profile and some of the required skills of BA, and how you can hire the perfect BA for your business? So keep on reading ahead to know more about this.

Profile/Role of Business Analyst

A company can only remain competitive if it can analyze the market requirements and can keep up with rapid market changes. This is only possible if the BA will have all the required skills and capabilities. However, the skill set is not finite and involve a broad range of capabilities, and here we are going to enlist some of them:

  • Collecting and evaluating data to solve the analyzed business challenges and offer recommendations
  • The BA is responsible for increasing the efficiency of several functions of the business, including sales, marketing, and production. He has to be involved in market research as well to identify the marketing challenges. He can then get an insight into the competition and provide recommendations to beat the competitive challenges.
  • For some organizations, the BA has to work for some specialized areas and work for any particular department. However, the BAs of small organizations have flexible job roles.
  • Business Analysts are required to identify the required changes and communicate those changes to their partners, stakeholders, and top management of the company.
  • Using available and latest IT resources, they may have to create new IT solutions and enable the organization to achieve its business goals by bridging the gap between its IT department and marketing goals.
  • They have to suggest the solutions to the senior management and assist them in employee training.
  • The Business Analyst of the company may also have to manage the overall strategy of the business process execution.

Sometimes it becomes a surprising task for HR to hire the Business Analyst for the company as it becomes difficult for them to define the exact required skill set for the job description. Moreover, the business analyst can be categorized as per the department for which the analyst has to be hired, and it may be a Sales analyst, IT analyst, finance analyst, or process analyst. So, we are going to enlist some of the required skill set of Business Analyst:

1. Communication Skills

Communication skill is an essential skill, and he/she should be an effective communicator. Business Analyst has to communicate with stakeholders and attend and organize several client meetings. They have to solve the business problems by deeply analyzing them through open-ended questions. They should be active listeners and communicate effectively to convey the correct and required information to the appropriate level. Effective communication skill of a Business Analyst may:

  • Ask exact and correct questions
  • Attend the meetings and facilitate work
  • Build a strong relationship with the stakeholders
  • To convey the issues like project changes, requirement, and testing results to the team members
  • To communicate with team members efficiently either in meetings or through emails or conference calls

2. Critical Thinking

For every task, the Business Analyst may need critical thinking for every task that can be accomplished. They have to complete the task from start to end and have to outline and evaluate multiple options before the team arrives at a solution. The critical thinking skill of the BA will help in:

  • Resource allocation
  • Requirement identification and prioritizing them
  • In understanding stakeholder's requirement

3. Visual Modeling Skill

As we know, the important skills for the Business Analyst include eliciting requirements, conducting analysis, and gathering required information, but this information may have to be conveyed effectively. In events or business meetings, presentations or visual reports can help in increasing the trust of stakeholders. Therefore the BA must have the ability to create some of the visual models like:

  • Data Flow Diagram
  • Business Domain Model
  • Activity Diagram
  • Featured Road Map
  • Organization Chart
  • Competitive Comparison Matrix

4. Analytical Skills

Business Analysts have to use a variety of techniques, like the models of the business process, to analyze the problem and identify its solution. They have to analyze to know the effect of changes or to find a new solution. The business analyst should possess the following skills:

  • Should be able to analyze business process
  • Must be able to prepare documentation and conduct requirement analysis
  • Must be able to perform solution assessment and validations
  • Should know how to conduct a SWOT analysis?

5. Relationship-Building Skill

Stakeholders have a significant impact on project success. Business Analyst fills the gap between team members and the users and builds a strong relationship between both. Different stakeholders of the business may have different interests, needs, and priorities; however, a strong relationship with them helps in understanding their respective requirements and deliver a valuable outcome. A strong and good relationship with stakeholder result into:

  • Building trust
  • Understanding attitude and interest of stakeholders
  • Working in productive and constructive ways
  • In managing expected and effective relationship with stakeholders

6. Documentation Skill

For a Business, Analyst documentation is one of the most important jobs. Throughout the lifecycle of the project, a business analyst has to create specific, well-structured, and concise documents to communicate the right message to stakeholders. The document generated by them should be clear, accurate, and easy-to-understand. Usually, the below-listed documents are required by the businesses:

  • Project Charter
  • Release Notes
  • System Requirement Specs
  • Release Notes
  • Product Presentation and Brochure
  • Business Requirement Document
  • Product or Project Proposal

Assessing the Business Analyst Skills

While hiring the Business Analyst, we should assess his skills like his knowledge and experience in handling any critical situation. It can be a tricky task to assess the skills of a Business Analyst. The professionals play an important and imperative role in the business. They are like a communication bridge between the IT department and users of the business.

The Business Analysts are not involved in IT and user-related work directly, but still, they act as a liaison between both. However, it can be quite challenging for the BA to provide an interface between the IT department and users. This is a difficult process to identify the required skill set for BA and hire the correct and appropriate candidate for this role.

We have listed the required skills for a Business Analyst, but the hiring manager has to assess these skills to perform the job successfully. Sometimes it becomes difficult to assess the skills of the candidate at the time of interview and requires money and time. Correct assessment of a BA's skills saves the interview time and money and helps the recruiters select and hire the right candidate for the position.

Some of the tools that are essential for a Business Analyst and used by these professionals are given below. These tools increase their productivity, so they should master these tools, and they are:

  • MS Visio: This is a Microsoft application that is used for vector graphics applications
  • DOORS: This is an application by IBM that is used for requirement management
  • MS Word: This is a word processor by Microsoft that is used to prepare the documents
  • MS PowerPoint: This is a PowerPoint presentation tool that is developed by Microsoft
  • Balsamiq: This is a mock-up generation and wireframing tool that is used to create the user interface and prepare the sketch-style wireframes.

Apart from expertise in the above-mentioned tools, the Business Analyst must be assessed for some of the essential skills, and those skills include:

1. Knowledge Test

Firstly the recruiter should test the knowledge of BA. To test his knowledge, can you use the basic training course to test that the BA understands the basic concepts or not? By this, you can also check whether the person is familiar with your business terminology or not. Here the candidate may be assessed to check for elicitation techniques and knowledge. He should be assessed to check the basic knowledge of conducting several sessions and elicitation techniques. The BA should also be able to understand the current business models used by the organization and describe them thoroughly or not?

Assessment of these skills can help you in judging the capability of your Business Analyst. However, this may not be sufficient, and the BA should be judged whether he will perform his job correctly or not, and for this, below mentioned skill assessment could help you.

2. Documentation Review

Document review tasks may involve reviewing the existing documents. For this, a sample of required documents may be selected from the organization itself, composed by various authors, and then the BA may be asked to review those docs based on some predefined document selection criteria.

For example, here, the BA may be asked to make sure that whether the requirements have unique IDs, visual models, and other specific aspects or not? Some organizations use their specific and pre-specified assessment worksheets to review the documentation against a standard set or pre-specified criteria. Here the BA may not be asked to review every page of the provided document. Instead, they may be asked to provide a broad sampling of the provided doc.

3. Elicitation Observations

This can be an imperative step in assessing the elicitation skill of a Business Analyst. The hiring manager is supposed to assess the elicitation session and performance of the candidate. Here many recruiters specify 4 to 5 criteria and a pretty subjective rating system to assess the elicitation skill of the candidate. They should be able to facilitate the sessions and keep the tasks on track.

The Business Analyst of any organization must be able to take the initiatives and handle challenging participants as well. Sometimes they may need to elicit the customer's requirements immediately, so assessing such skills is also an imperative aspect of the hiring process.

As far as the order of assessment is concerned to assess these above-mentioned skills is concerned then you can follow the following order while assessing the skills of BA:

Step1: Documentation Review

Step 2: Elicitation Observations

Step 3: Knowledge Tests

Conduct the assessments in a friendly way and try to take out the candidate's fear. They should be able to perform the test easily. The test should contain meaningful and balanced questions on Data Interpretation, Analytical Thinking, Listening, Data Sufficiency, Comprehension, or Writing Skills-based questions. Apart from the skill-based test, a general test to judge these skills of the candidate can be conducted. This general test can contain the questions of the following domains:

  1. Data Interpretation
  2. Analytical Thinking
  3. Written Communication
  4. C-ACT Test also known as Customer, Accountability, Communication and Team Collaboration Test

Final Words

In today's continuously changing digital world, data is increasing rapidly and can be helpful to provide customer excellence. Hiring a business analyst can be a difficult task, but if the steps are conducted excellently, then a strong candidate can be hired found and hired. The customer-centric approach of the Business Analyst can help you in assessing accountability, team-collaboration, and communication like skills.

Looking to hire business analysts? Recruiters typically use online screening tests like the Business Analyst Test or the Business Analyst Aptitude Test to do the first round of screening and shortlist the top 20% qualified candidates that they can present to hiring managers.