Business Analyst Job Description

So, what exactly is a Business Analyst? What is the role of the Analyst in solution delivery? If you don’t want to be completely confused, don’t bother trying to get a conclusive definition by just “Googling” it. There are dozens of variations on the BA role depending on the company, and on the software engineering methodology used.

You’ll hear of Systems Analysts, Requirements Engineers/Analysts and a host of other related titles. These, again depending on the company, may be the same thing as a BA, somewhat similar, or completely different.

Based on my experience, I like the Business Analyst job description provided over at Mike Schaffner’s blog. It seems to hit all the main points as well as some of the more generic desired attributes in an IT professional.

I like that Schaffner goes a bit further in pointing out specific attributes (I’ve highlighted them in blue text) that distinguish the BA from a typical “good applications person.”

Here’s the list:

  • Elicit requirements using interviews, document analysis, requirements workshops, surveys, site visits, business process descriptions, use cases, scenarios, business analysis, task and workflow analysis.
  • Critically evaluate information gathered from multiple sources, reconcile conflicts, decompose high-level information into details, abstract up from low-level information to a general understanding, and distinguish user requests from the underlying true needs.
  • Proactively communicate and collaborate with external and internal customers to analyze information needs and functional requirements and deliver the following artifacts as needed: (Functional requirements (Business Requirements Document), iii. Use Cases, GUI, Screen and Interface designs)
  • Utilize your experience in using enterprise-wide requirements definition and management systems and methodologies required.
  • Successfully engage in multiple initiatives simultaneously
  • Work independently with users to define concepts and under direction of project managers
  • Drive and challenge business units on their assumptions of how they will successfully execute their plans
  • Strong analytical and product management skills required, including a thorough understanding of how to interpret customer business needs and translate them into application and operational requirements.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills and the ability to interact professionally with a diverse group, executives, managers, and subject matter experts.
  • Serves as the conduit between the customer community (internal and external customers) and the software development team through which requirements flow.
  • Develop requirements specifications according to standard templates, using natural language.
  • Collaborate with developers and subject matter experts to establish the technical vision and analyze tradeoffs between usability and performance needs.
  • Be the liaison between the business units, technology teams and support teams.

For more information, below are some other links to posts specializing on defining the business analyst role and responsibilities, as well as some ideas on how BAs can best be used to solve business problems.


About the Author

Jonathan Babcock is a management and IT consultant with expertise in business analysis, process optimization and solution delivery methodology. Practical Analyst is his outlet for sharing what he's learned, and for interacting with solution delivery professionals across the globe.

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    1. Hello

      Mr.schaffner i want to know about business Analyst…what is it about.And what we have to study or do for that .As i am pursuing my degree from i just want to know about business analyst. so i will be helpful to u if u guide me about business analyst

      Thank you

      1. Hello Mirza,

        The BA role in India will vary company to company and i believe anyone who wants to pursue this role in India, would require any domain knowledge e.g., insurance, Banking, retain, telecom.. etc.
        Now for you to be a BA, you can either join any PG course pertaining to this domain or to be come Technical analyst, do some technical courses and do additional domain certification.

  1. Jonathan,

    Thank you for a description of what a BA role is.

    Personally I can see point three taken too literally:

    “Proactively communicate and collaborate with external and internal customers to analyze information needs and functional requirements and deliver the following artifacts as needed: (Functional requirements (Business Requirements Document), iii. Use Cases, GUI, Screen and Interface designs)”

    with BA’s thinking it is their responsibility to create the GUI and interface designs.

    What I think is lacking in the definition is the distinction between finding out what is required and designing how that is implemented and which part of that is in the role/responsibilities of the BA and which is not.

    Do you think the role of the BA is to design “HOW” a system will do what it does?

    I find the “HOW” creeps in whenever the requirements take the form “The System shall…” rather than “It is required that …”.

    What do you think ?


    BTW- I posted this comment to Mike’s site too, since Im *very* interested in resposnes.

    1. From my very basic understanding of business analysis, it seems that designing the GUI would be primarily directed by the BA as they are the ones who understand the workflows that will be performed by end users.

      With that said, I think this falls on a continuum of importance. If you’re talking about a simple, seldom performed task that lacks an order of operations and really isn’t all that integral to downstream activities or immediate value generation, probably not so important. In the opposite scenario, you would probably want the BA to step up their design game…

  2. Thanks, Jonathan! This helps a lot with a question I've been asking this week: what, if anything, is the difference between Business Analyst and Requirements Analyst. Your description makes them look a lot alike. I find that's one major subset of the answers I got. The other subset was that BA is whole business, while RA is software-specific. But Weigers (for one) says the terms are used synonymously most of the time.

    I need to write up a job description for an analyst, and this is a huge help. Thanks!

  3. Great post Jonathan. If you read a job description today for a business analyst, there will be much more requirements then you list. In fact, many companies are now looking for BAs to be able to code. I wonder if companies will still have such high expectations when the market turns around.

    1. Hello,
      I am pursuing computer science engineering and currently in the third year.I have good communication skills.
      Am interested to become a BA…..Is it possible to be one without MBA in hand i.e. directly after the B.Tech.?
      Also if MBA is indispensable then which MBA stream would be the best?
      Would be grateful for the advice.

  4. @ Schaffner, It was really great work.
    @Jonathan, Schaffner, Can you please let me know what is the career scope of a BA? Will a BA play long game or his career graph becomes stagnant after some time?

  5. dear,

    just to check where I can study BA as per your recommendation.

    I need some trustworthy institute or online training accredited and certified.

  6. Not at all. While educational technologists may use information technology in their jobs, they have a very different purpose. I’ve worked at a couple of universities which used educational technologists heavily, and their job was to work with instructors to help them design and implement ways of teaching effectively. Yes, they taught the faculty about new hardware and software developments that they might be able to use to make their classes more effective (I remember when podcasting first became available, they helped some instructors use that to record their lectures), but they also help faculty design projects to assign to their students, or write exams to optimally test for how well students have met class objectives, etc. I also remember at one point going to our instructional technologist because I was teaching a lot of student athletes, and I noticed that they had a lot of kinetic energy and found it hard to sit still in class, even if they were interested. So we designed some class exercises which would allow students to move around more often so that I could keep their attention.

  7. I am trying to switch my career to IT , starting as BA. I am a quick learner and have excellent communication skills. Lets see if i can make it….

  8. The comments and resources on this site are an excellent resource. I am a 25 year veteran of the computing industry mainly as a programmer and client rep with companies such as IBM and Unisys. Currently I am wanting to translate my experience of working with clients and applying software to solving business problems, into a business analyst roll.
    Can you comment on what obstacles BAs have in getting recognized as a key success factor in IT projects. I find there is a lot of internal competition between IT specialties. For example, many developers (many times a one trick pony or only know one kind of software) believe they can do it all and regard BA as just documenters. Project sponsors, usually non technical business people, usually try to cut corners by dropping the Project Manager or BA off the list of skills, to save costs and expect/hope the programmer can do it all.
    What lessons are learned by BAs in making breakthroughs in the recognition they need. The BA role is nodoubt an emerging role and becoming more recognized just due to the fact there have been so many expensive project failures out there. The struggle for authority in projects will continue…

  9. I have joined one Product Based Software development Organization as Lead Analyst/BA……responsible for Management Reporting,Metrics Presentation,Bug/issue Tracking of all workgroup…….
    Please suggest…..what other responsibility makes additional advantage in my career growth.

  10. Hi
    Currently i m working as Risk operation executive in the Indian capital market from last 5 years. Now i m interested to enter in BA profession. Can i join any firm for that suggest me.

  11. When I consider my work as a Business Analyst I do not consider it the same as my work as a Systems Analyst. The Systems Analyst works with systems which can be business systems, manufacturing systems, human systems, biological systems, scientific systems, and so on. System meaning the function of a bunch of individual or subsystems together to create a whole or larger system. Think a tree, then the tree in a biosystem like a forest.

    When I think about a Business System, I think about a highly specialized system that involves such things as The Time Value of Money, Comparative Efficiencies with other external business systems, Accounting, Economics. The business system is made of again of smaller systems which also interact with each other, but with identifiable influences (on each subsystem as well as the macro system). For example, a company may want to analyze their efficiencies within as well as their competitive external influences from without.

    To this point, maybe a firms understanding of the drivers of international exchange rates would be in order. The point being that knowing the cost of your product in each market as seen by the purchaser, could influence the volume potential of that country and how they could effect or optimize these influences. So there are about 7 major drivers of international exchange rates between two countries, understanding the impact of these on the flow of money is critical to analyzing a market for a product.

    Likewise, understanding the aspects of efficiently financing internal production efforts is very important. Both of these must be understood or you will be like a person who goes to bed with his girlfriend without knowing where babies come from.

    Jim Moss

  12. am in my first year BFM (bachelor in financial markets), and have plans further. Are you suggesting that a commerce student is unfit to be an analyst! and i should change my feild before its too late!?
    And just to be clear, BFM is a self finance course just like BBA or BAF.

  13. dear ,

    Presently i am working under Insurance operations and i did my MBA and B.Sc Electronics. I have been working in insurance from 2 years. I am interested to learn this course. Can you update is it compulsory to know the compute languages. how much it is use full for BA and which institution is best for this?

  14. Your BA postings are fantastic, thanks.

    We are implementing a support team in our Asset Management business and your articles are very helpful.


  15. Hi Jonathan!

    Very detailed job description. It actually sounds very much like my role as a User Experience Designer.

    How is it different? What is the education and background of a BA? What qualifies them to speak for the user?

  16. Thanks for this article… Also, the links you have share are quite useful for me as I am working as BA in BNP Paribas.

  17. I am bit confused i want to grow myself in a BA field but i am not at all good in technically, is technical sound mandatory to become BA, i completed MBA with marketing as a specialization n also i want to know what r d job description for BA in a Recruitment firm.. plz help me

  18. HI JB,
    Could you plz guide me about this Business Analyst job.I am a MBA graduates in the field of Marketing & I have in an experience in the field of real estate and banking of 2years. Now I am looking a long term career as a Business Analyst, plz suggest me how can I proceed now to opt this career?What need full thing I should do? Plz explain me in details for the above mention asap.

    Michal Joseph

  19. Hello all, i am wondering how do i exactly pursue a career in relation to a business analyst, i am currently studying BA/Hons Business Management within the UK, i just don’t know where to start or how to get a career in this line of work. Is there any other formal qualification that i need ?

    All help will be appreciated cheers,


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