Business Analyst Career Information

Business analysts are essentially business consultants with management expertise. Their work is often complex, involving an almost forensic level of analysis of business and management practices. They tend to specialize in particular areas of business, although some are generalists and will do a full spectrum analysis of client operations.

The work environment

To fully explore the business analyst's work, we need to give a general description of the work involved. It should be understood that in specialist work like logistics systems management or other specific areas, the business analyst often works solely within that frame of reference as a consultant. The general work, however, is a good indicator of most of the issues and methodologies involved.

A general business analysis will involve study and analysis of these areas:

  • Business practices
  • Work practices
  • Cost efficiencies analysis
  • Job design
  • Business-specific commercial areas like retail sales, ordering procedures, etc.
  • Management practices
  • Overheads
  • Communications systems
  • Organizational issues

This often very detailed work isn't just about finding problems. The business analyst also has to look for the areas which are functioning well. These areas are often the basis of revised business plans, practices and organizational reforms. The business analyst is much more likely to go with the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, and in many cases will seek to create solutions where the known good practices become the standard for the client.

A business analyst prepares a working model of any proposed changes to the business, and back it up with meaningful facts and figures to support the case for change. The most conspicuous products of business analysis are restructurings, redundancies and layoffs. Despite this image, business analysts aren't likely to recommend the loss of trained staff to an employer if avoidable. They will often recommend redeployment, to avoid losing valuable staff and the high costs of training. 

The business analyst effectively prepares a revised business plan for the client, with full cost analyses, detailing savings and improvements in cost efficiencies. This the basic role, and client expectations are usually high. The business analyst works in a pressurized market where their work is the basis of major business decisions, and often involves large expenditure of money.

Skills

Interpersonal, client relationship and good communications skills are essential. The business analyst must be able to interact well with stakeholders on all levels, and conduct effective in depth consultations with clients.

Salaries: $40,000 to $130,000. Unusually, the median bandwidth is reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to range from around $50,000 to $95,000.

Hours: The working hours for business analysts are job-specific, depending on needs.

The career environment

Business analysts are one of the fastest growing professional groups in the US. This is a highly competitive career environment in which reputation, experience, specializations, and exposure to the geographic client base are the main factors. Business analysts may work in their own private practices, but more commonly spend much of their career as employees of consultancies. Partnerships with IT consultancies and other specialist organizations are common, working on contract bases. External sourcing of some business services is also creating considerable growth in employment and career options.