A Beginners Guide to Business Analysts: Responsibilities and Career Overview

Business analysts often bridge the gap between technical teams and business stakeholders, translating needs into actionable plans. Companies seek them out first whenever business growth is an issue.

But what is a business analyst, and what is his/her role and responsibility?

If you want to learn more about business analysts and their role in companies, this blog is for you.

We will explore what it means to be a business analyst. We will delve into their responsibilities and a business analyst’s career path. Hopefully, we can dispel any misconceptions about the role and help you decide if this career suits you.

What is a Business Analyst?

Business analyst sounds like some boring administrative pencil-pushing role, but it is far more than that. Stay tuned as we take you on a jaunt through a business analyst’s life and career overview.

A business analyst is the primary driver of positive change in a business. Stagnancy and complacency are major problems in the business world. You never want your business to stop changing and become set in its ways. A business analyst is the voice in your mind telling you where you are going wrong. Their role is to point out where things are sub-optimal or even improper.

You never want a team of “yes-men” in your business. Things will never get better if nobody points out the faults.

Yet many employees are afraid of speaking up on how things can change. Whether it be out of fear or respect for their superior officers, such behavior is common in the business world. Not to mention, your regular team may simply also not be able to see anything wrong. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken, as they say.

What Do Business Intelligence Analysts Do?

Today’s competition is cutthroat, with hundreds of competitors in every market. One wrong decision can put you miles behind everyone else. Your only choice is to constantly critique your business and keep evolving.

Business analysts spearhead this evolution. They advise on how things can be better and suggest what changes can be made to gain that one sliver of a competitive edge.

A business analyst is like a professional coach on a football team. While you may be playing well enough without a coach, having one makes a difference. They can point out precisely everything wrong with how you’re playing. Maybe your form is slightly off and costing your team points. Maybe your gear is holding you back. Minor problems like these can pile up and can cost you the game. The same is true for a business and why it needs a business analyst.

Assessment and improvement that’s what a business analyst brings to the table.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

Identifying Business Needs and Requirements

The primary responsibility of a business analyst is to assess business operations. We can learn a lot by collecting large data sets and drawing reports and conclusions. For example, a business analyst may find that the business’s supply chain is performing slower than competitors’ or that the business is not paying attention to social media marketing.

Even more than that, a business analyst can evaluate existing workflows. Process planning has more inefficiencies than execution. For example, the accounting function may have a bottleneck regarding payment approval. Some entrepreneurs make it so only the CFO can authorize a payment. This means that when they are not around, the accounting function will halt as all payments are put on hold.

Many such inefficiencies are easily correctable and fall under the purview of business analysts. They are an organization’s operational problem detectors and solvers.

Bridging the Gap Between Management and the Team

Business analysts play a major role in bolstering communication across the business. They are there to assess the data and the people involved. A good business analyst always talks to the people on the ground. For example, talk to the sales team if you find problems in the sales workflow. Talking to the people working can reveal a lot of intricacies.

Perhaps the business is operating sub-optimally on purpose, for example. Maybe they have already tried various solutions, and the sub-optimal one turned out optimal. What works for one business may not work for another. There is no set checklist of how a process should be to be the most efficient.

The role extends further than detecting problems. It goes into why those problems are there in the first place. By tracing the origin of the problem, business analysts learn why several things are not optimized.  When debating what business analysts do, this is an important aspect of the role that many people often overlook.

Documentation and Reporting

Documentation is one of a business analyst’s more mundane but relevant duties. All the data they analyze must be compiled and presented as an easily understandable document. Not everyone in the decision-making room is a data expert, and data needs to be translated into practical terms. This is done through visualizations like charts, flow charts, and graphs, among other avenues.

While this work sounds less exciting, it is vital to the process. As a business analyst, you must evaluate and present your findings in an accessible form. After all, why would your boss listen to you if you cannot present your findings properly?

It’s all about communication and bridging the gap between incomprehensible data and understandable information.

Developing and Validating Problem Solutions

A business analyst’s real worth shines in the problem-solving department. As a business analyst, you are charged with solving the problems you uncover. In addition, as part of the decision-making process, you are responsible for assessing any proposed solutions.

For example, the accounting function has too many unnecessary steps in the accounts payable process. The CFO suggests using automation to reduce the mundane parts of the process. Stakeholders propose that the business hire an outsourced accounts payable solution. Ultimately, all of these solutions will end up before you for judgment.

While you are not the deciding factor, your opinions as a business analyst hold much power. You need to look at the problem from all angles and try to come up with the best possible solution. This solution needs to solve the problem and align with the business goals. It also needs to be within budget and practical instead of idealistic. Any proposed solutions also need to meet these requirements. Your role is to be the unbiased eyes in the business and find the best way forward objectively.

The Business Analyst Career Path

Educational Qualifications

Becoming a business analyst is not easy. While having a fancy MBA degree is not required, it does help prove your worth. Similarly, courses and certifications in business analysis are necessary to find work. At a minimum, you should have a bachelor’s degree in a business-management-adjacent field. Data analytics, business administration, finance, and IT are some fields that make a fine addition to your resume.

Practical Skill Requirements

As a business analyst, you must have some necessary practical skills. Strong communication skills are first on the list. You need to be able to use your words and make yourself heard. Even the best data analysis is worthless if you cannot express it practically. Similarly, you must develop confidence in speaking your mind in a crowded room. You will be included in stakeholder meetings and be in touch with powerful people. A certain poise and confidence are necessary to hold your ground in a conversation.

Beyond that, you also need to develop some IT chops. At a minimum, proficiency in SQL databases and Microsoft Excel is required. Nobody is going to collect and organize the data for you. You need to be able to access, retrieve, and properly manage business data. Programming experience in Python and R is a bonus, as it helps in data analysis. You will also be charged with data visualization, so familiarity with software like Tableau is a requirement. Being able to read financial statements and reports is also a valuable skill.

Salary and Career Opportunities

So, how much is a business analyst paid in the USA?

A business analyst’s salary is a tricky question. Glassdoor reports an average of $89K/year for a business analyst position. The rates fluctuate depending on where you live and the size of the business you work for.

The small business market is full of opportunity, but the pay may not be what you expect. These businesses have tight budgets, after all. Instead of joining a business, you could go into business analysis consulting. In that case, you can work with businesses on a project basis and have multiple clients.

You could also work among outsourced business analysts. Instead of being an independent consultant or dedicated analyst, work for a business analyst firm. These firms find clients and connect you to opportunities. As a beginner business analyst, working in such firms is a great idea. They tend to have staff that boasts all manner of experience you can absorb.

Outsourced business analyst firms are also a great way to make connections in the industry. More than anything else, working with such a firm is a wellspring of knowledge and experience. And there is no substitute for practical experience.


That’s all for today, folks. We tried to touch on all relevant aspects of a business analyst career. There is much more depth to be found, and we encourage you to research deeper. This is more of a taste of what to expect with this career path. Hopefully, this will help you make a decision. Be prepared, be informed. Best of luck!