A man undertaking digital transformation, sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen.

The 9 Technical Skills a Business Analyst Should Know

Key takeaways

  • Technical skills are important for business analysts to be able to act as the bridge between business needs and technological solutions.
  • Core technical skills a business analyst should have include: Process Modeling and Workflow Analysis, Office Applications, Data Analysis, Software Testing Principles, and basic database management
  • More advanced technical skills for a business analyst involes: Advanaced data visualizations and business intelligence, programming skills, and emerging tech such as machine learning and big data

In today’s digital landscape, technical skills are essential for success in this dynamic field. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, mastering these 9 key technical competencies can pave the way for impactful contributions and career growth as a business analyst.

Business analysis is a field that requires a combination of technical and business skills. As a business analyst, you will be responsible for helping organizations identify and solve problems, and for developing solutions that can help improve their processes, products, services, and software.

Understanding Business Analysis

Business analysis is the process of identifying business needs, analyzing problems, and developing solutions to those problems. As a business analyst, you will be responsible for helping organizations improve their processes, products, services, and software through data analysis, stakeholder engagement, and project management.

Business analysts work across all levels of an organization and may be involved in everything from defining strategy to creating the enterprise architecture to taking a leadership role by defining the goals and requirements for programs and projects or supporting continuous improvement in its technology and processes

A technical business analyst is a business analyst who has a strong technical background. They are responsible for analyzing and documenting technical requirements for software development projects. They must possess strong analytical skills, as they need to be able to identify technical problems and develop solutions to those problems.

Core Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

We can break the responsibilities of a business analyst into four components:

  • Decode: Researching, finding, and implementing an efficient and often innovative solution to various business problems across an organization is the bread-and-butter of the business analyst’s role.
  • Optimize: From creating and implementing business processes that improve efficiency and productivity across multiple business units to analyzing and troubleshooting analytical systems, the role of the business analyst is always heavily focused on optimization.
  • Document: Business analysts must be able to author and update documentation throughout the lifecycle of a project – from defining the requirements and scope of the project to documenting the final product and results.
  • Communicate: As the bridge between technical and non-technical, the business analyst must be an expert communicator and storyteller, interpreting and translating data into actionable insights.

Why are technical skills important for business analysts?

Simply put, acting as the bridge between business needs and technological solutions.

Technical skills are essential for business analysts as they enable the effective interpretation and analysis of complex data, facilitating informed decision-making.

Skills in technical areas such as data analysis, programming, and system understanding empowers business analysts to collaborate more effectively with technical teams.

Core Technical Skills for a Business Analyst

As a business analyst, you will be expected to have a solid foundation of technical skills to be able to analyze data, identify problems, and provide effective solutions. In this section, we will explore the core technical skills that you need to master to excel in this role.

1. Process Modeling and Workflow Analysis

Process modeling and workflow analysis are critical skills for any business analyst. You will be expected to map out existing processes, identify inefficiencies, and propose improvements.

An isometric diagram of a group of people standing on a staircase, illustrating tecnical skills for business analyst

To do this effectively, you need to have a good understanding of process modeling techniques like flowcharts, swimlane diagrams, and process maps. You should also be familiar with workflow analysis tools like Lucidchart and Microsoft Visio.

Example of process visualization in lucidchart

Lucidchart Process mapping

And Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio Process Mapping

2. Proficiency in Office Applications

Business analysts should have a thorough understanding of the basic applications used in offices, including those used for:

  • Word processing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Presentations
  • Charts and diagrams
  • Email

Mastery of tools like Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint enables business analysts to effectively manipulate and analyze data, create comprehensive reports and presentations, and communicate complex information in a clear and accessible manner.

A business analyst is using office applications

These applications serve as foundational tools for organizing and presenting critical business insights, supporting informed decision-making and enhancing overall productivity in the business analysis process.


3. Data Analysis and Reporting

Data analysis is at the heart of the business analyst role. You will be expected to work with large datasets, extract insights, and present your findings in a clear and concise manner.

A business analyst is using data analysis displayed on a laptop.

To excel (no pun intended), in data analysis you need to have a good understanding of statistical concepts, data visualization tools, and reporting techniques. You should also be familiar with tools like Excel, R, and Python, which are commonly used in data analysis.

Why Data Analysis and Reporting Is a Valuable Skill for a Business Analyst

  • Informed Decision-Making: Data analysis skills enable business analysts to extract meaningful insights from complex data sets, providing the foundation for informed decision-making and strategic planning.
  • Identifying Trends and Patterns: Proficiency in data analysis allows business analysts to identify trends, patterns, and correlations within data, offering valuable insights for business strategies and operational improvements.
  • Effective Communication: Reporting skills empower business analysts to present their findings in clear and comprehensive reports, facilitating stakeholder understanding and alignment with data-driven insights.

4. Understanding of Software Testing Principles

 Business analysts often run tests as part of their duties. This knowledge equips you to contribute effectively to the development and implementation of high-quality software solutions

A group of people studying a Software Testing Principles

A Business analysts should be knowledgeable of the following:

  • Test cases or manual testing
  • Test scripts
  • Automated tests

Why Experience of Software Testing Principles Is a Valuable Skill for a Business Analyst

  • Quality Assurance: Familiarity with software testing principles allows business analysts to contribute to the quality assurance process, ensuring that products and systems meet specified requirements and standards.
  • Effective Requirement Gathering: Understanding testing principles enables business analysts to gather and document requirements with testability in mind, leading to more effective testing processes and outcomes.
  • Risk Mitigation: Business analysts with knowledge of testing principles can identify potential risks and issues early in the project lifecycle, facilitating proactive mitigation strategies and minimizing the impact of defects.

5. Basic Knowledge of Database Management and SQL

As a business analyst, you will be working with large datasets, and you need to know how to manage them effectively. This includes skills like data modeling, data normalization, and SQL. You should also be familiar with database management tools like MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server.

A group of people standing around a server discussing technical skills businss analyst

Why Basic Database Skills Are Valuable For a Business Analyst

  • Data Analysis: Understanding database management and SQL enables business analysts to retrieve and analyze data effectively, providing valuable insights for decision-making and strategic planning.
  • Requirement Definition: Proficiency in SQL and database management allows business analysts to define and document data requirements accurately, ensuring that systems and applications align with business needs.
  • Effective Communication with IT Teams: Basic knowledge of database management and SQL facilitates clearer communication with IT teams, enhancing collaboration and ensuring that data-related requirements are effectively conveyed and implemented.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: With SQL skills, business analysts can generate custom reports and queries to support data-driven decision-making, enabling them to extract specific information tailored to the needs of the organization.

More Advanced Technical Skills in Business Analysis

Moving on, let’s have a look at the more advanced skills a business analyst can utilize

6. Advanced Data Analysis and Visualization (e.g., using Tableau or Power BI)

By learning advanced data analysis and visualization skills, for example with tools like Tableau or Power BI, business analysts can elevate their ability to extract meaningful insights from data, effectively communicate findings, and drive informed decision-making within their organizations.

A group of people developing a Data Strategy Roadmap while standing around a computer screen.

Example of data visualization created in Tableau

Tableau Data Visualization example of technical skills for a business analyst

Why Advanced Data Analysis and Visualization Skills Are Valuable For a Business Analyst

  • Insight Generation: Proficiency in advanced data analysis and visualization tools such as Tableau or Power BI gives you the possibility to derive actionable insights from complex datasets, enabling informed decision-making.
  • Effective Communication: Advanced visualization skills allow you to present data in a compelling and easily understandable manner, facilitating clear communication of findings and recommendations to stakeholders.
  • Trend Identification: Through advanced data analysis, business analysts can identify and interpret trends, patterns, and correlations within the data, providing valuable inputs for strategic planning and business optimization.
  • Interactive Reporting: Skills in advanced data visualization tools enable the creation of interactive and dynamic reports, allowing stakeholders to explore data and gain deeper insights, leading to more meaningful discussions and decisions.

7. Proficiency in Programming Languages (e.g., Python, R)

Programming proficiency is becoming increasingly important for business analysts. You should be familiar with programming languages like R and Python, which are commonly used in data analysis and visualization.

You should also have a good understanding of data-driven programming concepts like object-oriented programming, functional programming, and data structures.

A business analyst sitting at a desk with graphs on his computer.

Why Programming Skills Are Valuable For a Business Analyst

  • Data Manipulation: Proficiency in programming languages like Python and R enables business analysts to manipulate and analyze large datasets efficiently, extracting valuable insights to support decision-making.
  • Statistical Analysis: These languages empower business analysts to perform advanced statistical analysis, helping to identify trends, patterns, and correlations within the data, which are critical for informed decision-making.
  • Automation of Processes: Programming skills allow business analysts to automate repetitive tasks and processes, saving time and increasing overall efficiency in data analysis and reporting.
  • Enhanced Problem Solving: Skills in programming languages equips business analysts with the ability to develop custom solutions for complex analytical challenges, contributing to more effective problem-solving within the organization.

Business Analyst Technical Skills: Emerging Trends

Let’s have a look at some of the new trends as the industry evolves

8. Understanding of machine learning and AI basics

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that involves the use of algorithms to learn from data and make predictions. It is used to identify patterns and relationships in data that may not be apparent to humans. Some common machine learning techniques include decision trees, random forests, and neural networks.

An isometric image of a light bulb in a box on a dark background, representing artificial intelligence

To become proficient in machine learning, you need to have a strong foundation in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. You also need to be familiar with machine learning libraries such as scikit-learn and TensorFlow.


9. Big Data and Forecasting

Big data refers to the large and complex data sets that are difficult to process using traditional data processing methods. It involves the use of distributed computing systems such as Hadoop and Spark to process and analyze data. Forecasting, on the other hand, is the process of using historical data to predict future trends and outcomes.

An isometric image of a data storage system designed for data scientists and data engineers.

To become proficient in big data and forecasting, you need to have a strong foundation in computer science and data analytics. You also need to be familiar with big data technologies such as Hadoop and Spark, as well as forecasting techniques such as time series analysis.

Business Analyst Tech Skills: Documentation and Communication

As a business analyst, you will be responsible for creating and managing technical documentation and effectively communicating with stakeholders.

Requirements Gathering

One of the most important aspects of technical documentation and communication is requirements gathering. This involves understanding the needs of stakeholders and translating them into technical requirements. You will need to be able to ask the right questions, listen actively, and document requirements accurately.

To help you gather requirements effectively, you can use a range of tools and techniques, such as interviews, surveys, and focus groups. You can also use visual aids, such as flowcharts and diagrams, to help stakeholders understand complex technical concepts.

Creating Technical Documents

Once you have gathered requirements, you will need to create technical documents that clearly outline the project scope, objectives, and deliverables. Technical documents can take many forms, such as functional specifications, design documents, and user manuals.

To create effective technical documents, you will need to be able to organize information logically, use clear and concise language, and include visual aids where appropriate. You should also be familiar with technical writing conventions, such as using active voice, avoiding jargon, and using headings and subheadings to structure your documents.

Communication Skills for Technical Professionals

Effective communication is a cornerstone skill for technical professionals, including business analysts

The Importance of Effective Communication in Technical Roles

  • Clarity in Requirements: Clear and concise communication is essential for articulating technical requirements, ensuring that all stakeholders have a unified understanding of project objectives and specifications.
  • Collaboration and Alignment: Effective communication fosters collaboration between technical and non-technical teams, aligning efforts and ensuring that everyone is working towards a shared goal.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Strong communication skills enable business analysts to engage effectively with stakeholders, eliciting valuable insights and ensuring that their perspectives are integrated into the decision-making process.
  • Conflict Resolution: Clear communication is vital for addressing conflicts and discrepancies, allowing business analysts to navigate challenges and maintain project momentum.

Tips for Improving Communication Skills as a Business Analyst

  • Tailored Messaging: Adapt your communication style to suit your audience. When conveying technical concepts, ensure that the information is accessible and meaningful to non-technical stakeholders.
  • Seek Feedback: Actively seek feedback on your communication style and effectiveness. Be open to making adjustments based on constructive input to continuously improve your communication skills.
  • Use Visual Aids: Utilize visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and prototypes to supplement verbal communication. Visual representations can often convey complex information more effectively.
  • Storytelling: Incorporate storytelling techniques to contextualize technical information. Presenting information within a narrative framework can make it more engaging and easier to understand.
A woman is standing in front of a colorful graph illustrating business analyst technical skills

How to Highlight Technical Skills as a Business Analyst

Here are tips for highlighting your technical skills on your cover letter and resume and in an interview:

Cover Letter:

  • Relevance: Tailor your cover letter to highlight specific technical skills that align with the job requirements, showcasing how your expertise can directly contribute to the role.
  • Impactful Examples: Provide brief, impactful examples of how your technical skills have positively influenced projects or outcomes, emphasizing the value you can bring to the prospective employer.

Resume:

  • Clear Skills Section: Create a dedicated section to list your technical skills prominently, ensuring that they are easily identifiable at a glance.
  • Quantifiable Achievements: Accompany technical skills with quantifiable achievements or project outcomes to demonstrate the real-world impact of your expertise.

Interview:

  • Concrete Examples: During the interview, be prepared to discuss specific projects or instances where your technical skills have been instrumental in problem-solving or driving business results.
  • Communication: Clearly articulate how your technical skills can address the company’s needs, and demonstrate your ability to collaborate with technical and non-technical stakeholders.
A man developing tech skills as a business analyst, sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen.

Tips: If you are curios to learn more about business analysis and related topics, then check out all of our posts related to business analysis

Technical Skills Of a Business Analyst: The Essentials

In summary, business analysis is a field that requires a combination of technical and business skills. As a business analyst, you will be responsible for helping organizations identify and solve problems, and for developing solutions that can help improve their processes, products, services, and software. If you are interested in pursuing a career in business analysis, it is important to develop strong technical and analytical skills, as well as excellent communication and project management skills.

Key Takeaways: Business Analyst Top Technical Experience

  • Knowledge of Process Modeling: Competence in process modeling tools allows business analysts to visually represent business processes, identify inefficiencies, and propose improvements.
  • Requirements Management Skills: Business analysts should be skilled in requirement management tools to effectively document, track, and manage project requirements throughout the lifecycle.
  • Proficiency in Data Analysis Tools: Business analysts should be adept at using tools such as Excel, SQL, and data visualization platforms to extract, analyze, and present data-driven insights.
  • Familiarity with Project Management Tools: Proficiency in project management tools equips business analysts with the ability to contribute to project planning, scheduling, and resource management.

FAQ: What Technical Skills do Business Analysts Need

What are the essential tools every business analyst should be proficient with?

As a business analyst, you should be proficient with various tools that help you perform your job functions more efficiently. Some of the essential tools include project management software, data visualization tools, data mining software, and database management software. These tools can help you analyze data, create reports, and manage projects effectively.

Can you list the top five technical skills vital for a business analyst?

The top five technical skills vital for a business analyst are data analysis, data modeling, SQL, programming, and data visualization. These skills help you understand and analyze data, create models, write queries, and visualize data in a meaningful way.

Which certifications are most beneficial for a business analyst to have?

There are several certifications that can benefit a business analyst, such as the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP), Project Management Professional (PMP), and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM). These certifications demonstrate your proficiency in business analysis, project management, and agile methodologies.

What are the primary responsibilities of a business analyst concerning technical expertise?

As a business analyst, your primary responsibilities concerning technical expertise are to gather and analyze data, identify trends and patterns, create visualizations, and communicate technical information to stakeholders. You should also be able to identify technical requirements, work with technical teams to develop solutions, and ensure that technical solutions align with business goals.

What courses would you recommend to someone looking to strengthen their technical skills as a business analyst?

There are several courses that can help you strengthen your technical skills as a business analyst, such as data analysis, SQL, programming, and data visualization. Some of the popular courses include Data Analysis with Excel, SQL for Data Analysis, Python for Data Science, and Tableau Essential Training. These courses can provide you with the necessary skills to analyze data, write queries, and create visualizations.

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Eric J.
Eric J.

Meet Eric, the data "guru" behind Datarundown. When he's not crunching numbers, you can find him running marathons, playing video games, and trying to win the Fantasy Premier League using his predictions model (not going so well).

Eric passionate about helping businesses make sense of their data and turning it into actionable insights. Follow along on Datarundown for all the latest insights and analysis from the data world.