To understand the tools used by Business Analysts we should have some context as to where and how it is used. This requires an understanding of the day to day tasks carried out by people functioning in the capacity of a business analyst.
What Do Business Analysts Do?
Any kind of business has multiple stakeholders who have a direct or indirect interest in the functioning of the business; creditors, customers, directors, employees, suppliers, etc. are the common stakeholders of the businesses. There is a reciprocal relationship between the stakeholders and the business houses. Stakeholders have an influence on the organisation’s policies and objectives and are also affected by the same.
The present business landscape is ever-changing, be it due to technological enhancement or some government policy factors that might have negative consequences for some industries. Given the dynamic nature of the businesses today the role of the business analysts are multi-dimensional and has multiple aspects to it. The primary focus of a business analyst is to assess the needs and requirements of various stakeholders to the business by working with them.
This is facilitated by writing clear requirements and designing solutions to help address the problems faced by them and making sure that the problem is understood precisely by the relevant parties. Business analysts offer guidance on what could be the best solution for the challenges faced by the stakeholders by analysing the contemporary market situation and solutions available to address the problems. The roles also incorporate vetting that the solutions developed are sustainable in the long run and are the best fit for the business.
The day to day activities includes defining a business case, analysing the business needs, gathering relevant information from the key stakeholders involved, frame the requirements, validating the solutions, quality testing, project management, etc. The role of the business analyst also varies from project to project so there is no clear explanation as to what all can be included in the job description for business analysts. The most essential task is to develop synergy by understanding the needs and requirements of the business and to bridge the gap between the technical and non-technical departments.
Tools used by Business Analysts
Some of the most popular tools used by business analysts for their day to day operations include the following:
- Microsoft Office: The first in our list is probably used by every office personnel given the value it adds to any task by simplifying and making it presentable. Microsoft word is used to gather relevant information on the project which will be used in future assessment. The requirement specification document is developed using MS Word, with an array of font style, themes, smart art and charts this helps to record the information in the required format without much hassle. Data analysis is one of the key components of a business analyst role; the process of data analysis incorporates collecting, filtering and organising data, identifying the trends and creating necessary charts and graphs. This process is facilitated using the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet tool. The presentation part which is used to communicate relevant information for different stakeholders is done using the MS PowerPoint tool from Microsoft. Other Microsoft Office tools include MS Visio which is a modeling tool for a pictorial representation of facts, figures and flows.
- Balsamiq: There are projects that require wireframing applications to prove the utility and demonstrate a mock-up of a recommended model. The wireframing method is focused on content creation and user interaction. This tool uses a brainstorming session and provides valuable feedback from parties involved with the project.
- SWOT: Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat, this method is popularly used for strategic decision making and to evaluate a business. It is a free to use tool that helps the analyst to load and save analysis to local XML files.
- Trello: Trello is a collaboration and communication tool that helps with team meetings, it helps teams to communicate and share information and data securely. It helps to define the project requirements and implementation through SDLC.
- Wrike: Wrike is a real-time workflow management tool used by business analysts that helps to centrally store and update relevant data which in turn helps to reduce the project analysis costs incurred by the businesses. It provides core building blocks of work and allows live editing and file management. In addition to this, it also allows for a visual timeline to view the project plan.
Also Read: What is Life Like For Business Analyst