These are the Top Technical Skills that Business Analysts Really Need to Know

Welcome. This is Laura Brandenburg from Bridging The Gap. Today we’re here to answer a question from
Monica. She asked, “What are the top three to five
technical skills a business analyst with a business background needs to have?” Specifically, she asked this around wanting
to be able to make sure she could have good conversations with the technical people on
her project teams. Here’s the thing about technical skills in BA jobs – you’ve
heard me say it before and you’re going to hear me say it again – you see them as
job requirements a lot of times in business analyst roles. And a lot of times those requirements are
extremely misleading. You can, of course, to become more technically
minded as a business analyst, learn how to write code. You could go take an introduction to programming
and a sequel course and learn a bunch of technical skills that you may never, ever want to use
in your career. You could do that. Or you could learn some requirements models
that allow you to have those very productive communications and conversations with technical
professionals and understand more about how the technology is structured and give you
insight into what questions to ask than the technical skills, themselves, actually do. What I’m going to talk about here, in terms
of technical skills, are three requirements models or three types of requirements models
that you might want to look at if you feel that you’re not “technical” enough to
be a business analyst. I will finish with one closing bonus skill
that might catch you by surprise. Let’s talk about these three models. The first is use cases. Use cases are a textual description of how
a business user or a user of a software application interacts with a software system. They force you to get really specific about
what function or feature that system needs to have in order to meet the business needs. Underlying that feature is often a piece of
code that a developer has created, customized, or integrated to make that function work. But what you need to be able to specify as
a business analyst is what that software needs to do, and the condition under which it needs
to do it. A use case is the perfect model to get familiar
with that business user system interaction. It’s much more detailed than a typical business
process model, and it’s much more specific. You get into those specific technical requirements
even though you don’t know how to write the code that underlies it. The second requirements model that can be
helpful in expressing technical requirements like this is wireframes. Wireframes are visual descriptions, or visual
renderings, of a user interface screen. Essentially, when I go to a software application
as a user, what does it look like to me? Not, specifically, what are the colors, what
are the buttons, and how are they; circle or square? That is important at a certain point of a
project, but a wireframe can be much less specific than that. It can use general buttons and not be specific
on colors. Use grayscale. You’re trying to show this is what the user
interface screen might look like to a potential user. Again, you’re getting to that level of detail
of what that software system needs to be able to do and look like, again, without having
to write the code behind it. There are a lot of tools today that people,
like me, who don’t have coding backgrounds, are able to use that just drag and drop those
features into a wireframing tool so you can create them without having to know how to
code. The third set of models are data models, such
as entity relationship diagrams, system context diagrams, data flow diagrams, data dictionaries. There are a bunch of different models included
in the data modeling area. Essentially, all those models allow you to
understand how the database is structured, how information is stored, what information
needs to be stored. So, if you’re looking at a business process
and there are different fields on a form coming in through some sort of an input:
How is that information stored in your software system? What are the rules that need to be applied
when that information is stored? How do the different pieces of information
that come in through different business processes, how do those relate together? Different data models allow you to look at
that information model in different ways. This is how you, essentially, learn how to
model a relational database or express data requirements without knowing SQL. A not very well-kept secret is that I’ve
never learned how to write SQL. I did learn how to do a little bit of coding
in a very proprietary database language that was very specific at the very beginning of
my career, but I’ve never learned SQL. I’ve never used that skill to move forward
as a business analyst. I’ve done a lot of work with data requirements
and data modeling and helped a lot of teams figure out what those data requirements and
databases should look like by using some of the core data modeling skills. I promised you one bonus. Our three models are use cases, wireframes,
and data models. What’s that bonus skill? The bonus skill is something that you’re
probably already good at if you’re a business analyst, and that’s the ability to ask questions. When it comes to technical questions, it’s
like the ability to ask that question that you really feel like you should know. You should know the answer to this and you
don’t. It’s asking questions about how things are
organized, what are the capabilities of the technology, what are things that you might
not think of. You’re using that so you can understand
the possibilities of the technology and how the system is designed without knowing how
to do it yourself. In my experience, you could spend a lot of
time learning how to build these systems and write code. That could have a measurable impact on your
career. Or, you could spend time learning these core
skills that you’re going to use forever in your life-long career as a business analyst. They’re going to give you a more advanced
level of understanding of the potentials of technology than you would get from learning
how to line-by-line create the code because they’re going to enable you to work in any
sort of situation as opposed to just the coding language that maybe you learned. There are dozens of coding languages out there,
dozens of different technical environments. So, you’re never going to become the expert
on all of them unless you want to be the expert and the doer of that kind of thing. If you’re a business analyst, I’m assuming
you probably don’t. Again, use cases, wireframes, data models,
and having the courage to ask questions and get the answers to those questions so that
you really have a good technical understanding in your environment. Those, to me, are the skills that you need
to succeed as a business analyst with a business background in today’s technical environment. They will take you far as a business analyst
without getting you lost in the weeds of learning specific technical coding skills.

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25 thoughts on “These are the Top Technical Skills that Business Analysts Really Need to Know

  1. I have 2 test cases to solve from potential employee and 2 days given. And i have no idea how detailed solution i should provide. Do i need to provide user stories or just a high overview what should be done to develop solution. Its about implementation of digital payment requests. From creation to pushing to Treasury and making actual payment.

  2. Hello. It was really helpful video. Thanks. I am working as a business development manager from last 5 years and I want to work as a business analyst but I am not sure how to apply for BA role as they ask for specific experience in BA which I am unable to provide. The skills that you mentioned have already been used by me in my previous job profile but the tag was of business development. SO i am finding it hard to get an entry into it. Please help.

  3. Hello dear, good presentation! Thanks for your video. I am building up my skills as a BA. But I am very confused about technical skills because in many job roles they mention MySQL, agile methodologies and other technical skills as well. Please recommend me TOP BA Technical skills which are highly desirable by the employer.

  4. I really want to move into a core, functional (and maybe even technical) BA role in the future. According to BA business analysis roles are expected to see a surge in demand of almost 800k job openings in a couple years from now.

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