5 Types of Business Analysts That IT Entrepreneurs Should Know

Business analysts are perhaps the most mysterious and confusing profession for many entrepreneurs.

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By Vasily Voropaev

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

An analyst is a role that will appear every time a company or project is growing. Maybe not from the very beginning, but at a certain moment for sure. As you get bigger, one day you will need someone who is fully focused on collecting requirements and statistics, analyzing them and explaining them. It can happen naturally, with one person accepting the task, or you might hire someone specifically for the job. I find that the second option is preferable: The person will be more qualified and experienced, and will not make obvious and avoidable mistakes.

Here are some signs that your company currently lacks an analyst and needs one:

  • The team does not have a complete understanding of the product, industry or project
  • Many requirements are missed in the process
  • There is no clear understanding of what you are doing and why
  • The "I feel like it" mindset is dominant

All in all, analytics currently are needed in all areas of modern business — from marketing, finance and sales to software development and implementation. There are many types of analysts on the market, and it is possible to choose someone who fits you perfectly, depending on their skills, interests or background.

Here are five different types of analysts you should know, especially in the IT world.

Type 1: Requirements analyst

There is a fundamental manual, an encyclopedia and a set of rules for business analysis. It is called BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge). This book was developed by the International Institute of Business Analysis. All business analysts rely on it.

In summary, a business analyst is a person who performs the tasks described in the BABOK manual, regardless of their position or organizational role. This person is responsible for discovering, summarizing and analyzing information from various sources within the company.

Simply put, a business analyst is a person who is a kind of bridge between the business world and the development team. Their main goal is to collect and identify product requirements, document them and translate them into a language that the development team clearly understands.

The requirements analyst should know:

  • project development methodology

  • methods of writing technical documentation

  • classification of requirements

  • requirements management methods

I highly recommend reading Karl Wiegers's Software Requirements. It is pretty much mandatory for all analysts of this type.

Related: Top 5 Business Analysis Certification Courses

Type 2: System analyst

The system analyst is focused on analyzing the needs of users. Their responsibilities often include organizing and supervising the implementation of additional functions into an existing information system or the development of the system itself. The latter includes a set of various components and services focused on automating internal processes and, as a result, increasing the efficiency of the business.

In my opinion, a systems analyst can be characterized as a "task manager". Although it is rather difficult to talk about something specific: the activities of these specialists are very different, the boundaries are very blurred and differ depending on the organization and project.

The systems analyst should:

  • have a technical education and understand technology

  • know the basics of programming (including object-oriented), design, development and software documentation

  • have systemic thinking and an analytical mindset

  • know IDEF0 ‚IDEF1X and EPC notations

  • be able to write SQL queries and work with a database

  • quickly understand the requirements and determine their priority, as well as talk about technical solutions and their impact on the business in a language understandable to the client

Type 3: UX analyst

The UX analyst, or user interface/user experience analyst, is a relatively new profession. Their main goal is to improve the interface in such a way that it is intuitive and user-friendly.

UX analysts put themselves in the user's shoes and figure out exactly how the interface should work. Such a specialist must know the field of the psychology of human behavior and understand the tools that allow them to analyze it (for example, Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, Keen and Mouseflow). They should be a very logical person with an ability to interpret rather vague and unclear data.

A UX analyst should be able to:

  • collect data and analyze it

  • make recommendations for product developments based on the data received

  • qualitatively and reasonably present their decisions

  • be able to design an interface and understand how to make adjustments to it

  • ideally, have experience in marketing

Related: Why User Experience Is Vital for Quality SEO

Type 4: Integration analyst

The integration analyst is a role for large projects in which it is necessary to develop software with the ability to exchange data with other information systems. Sometimes they are also used when there is a need to connect an additional service to an existing information system. They solve many different issues related to integration and analytics.

An integration analyst is responsible for connecting different subsystems/services into a single whole system. They are usually receiving requirements from a business analyst or systems analyst. They understand the processes of exchanging information between systems, and, together with the architect or developers, work on smooth and proper connection. Most often this results in creating mapping tables of one information object and converting the format to another.

An integration analyst should:

  • be able to analyze business processes

  • understand the XML markup language

  • be able to develop XSD

  • be able to read and develop an API description

  • be able to work with testing / debugging tools for web services (Postman, SoapUI, and so on)

  • understand the principles of REST and SOAP

  • know the basics of SQL and be able to write queries

  • have experience in the development of technical documentation

  • have experience with Jira / Confluence

  • know BPMN and UML notations and have experience in creating diagrams using them

Type 5: Data analyst

A data analyst must be able to collect, structure, store and transform large amounts of data. Data analysts then present this data in a form that is convenient and understandable to the customer. Such analysts are also called mathematicians-programmers, information analysts and sometimes business analysts, but with the skills of working with Big Data. The quality work of these specialists is based on their knowledge in the field of mathematical statistics, data analysis algorithms and mathematical modeling.

Such specialists are needed by companies that need to manage customer demand. I usually lease data analysts to large ecommerce projects or banks.

The data analyst should know:

  • tools for accessing and processing data, like spreadsheets (SQL, DBMS, data warehouses, ETL)

  • programming languages: R, SAS, C ++, Python

  • BI analytics, data analytics, and data science

  • statistics and mathematics (mathematical logic, linear algebra, probability theory)

  • machine and deep learning — they should be able to set up or train a neural network from scratch

  • Data engineering — how to properly organize receiving, storing and allowing access to important information.

Related: Everything You Should Know About 21st Century's Most Sexiest Job Profile - Data Scientist

Vasily Voropaev

CEO of Smartbrain.io

As CEO and founder of Smartbrain.io, Vasily Voropaev is a serial entrepreneur, business angel and pioneer of the Eastern Europe freelance and remote-work market.

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