Whenever it comes to building or maintaining a business, a lot of spots need to be filled. You need a CEO or someone who is capable of making all sorts of decisions; you need specialists for all the specific needs your business has; you need workers to get the business work done; marketers to tell people about your business; and so on.
But while many jobs and positions are commonly thought of whenever it comes time for you to build a business, one job is often left out. That of a business analyst. You might not even know what a business analyst is, let alone why you need one for your business and why you need to have one as soon as possible. A business analyst is going to be extremely important for the growth and longevity of your business, whether it is new or has been working for years. Here’s what a business analyst does and how it can best help you out.
What is a business analyst?
It doesn’t matter if your business is a business that sells keychains for cash or a business that is a Fortune 500 company; they are the same in the fact that each and every business on the planet uses data to work. Data on what to buy and what to sell, data on how to reach out to the customers, and data on what marketing plans and campaigns are working and which ones are not. Everything that a business does, doesn’t do, or experiences is a result of data.
However, most companies don’t focus on the data, and if they do, they tend to focus on the data that is directly in front of them. If a certain month sees many customers buying their products and then the next month all of the customers dry up, many businesses simply take it on the chin, react to it, and then move on. Same for any other business successes, failures, or coincidences.
But there’s power in all of those data points that are floating around behind every single sale, bad month, horrible product release, and successful advertising campaign. The business analyst is the person who looks at all those data points, interprets the story they are telling you, and then uses that story to solve problems and get better results.
All data, no matter where it is from or what business it is in, tells a story. The problem is that not too many people care to look for the story, fewer people tell the story, and only a small number of people will actually learn the lesson the data is trying to teach them. If you want to get a cheat code for your business, then you need to learn how to read the data or find someone to do it for you. That’s where a business analyst comes in.
The business analyst comes in, reads all of the data, and then formulates a plan of action based on what the data tells them. Because the data points of your business are like looking at the bones of your business, they will tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, and if you know how to analyze them, you can see where your business is struggling.
How does a business analyst help your business?
Business analysts are people who can look at the data and compare it to the latest trends happening in your business field, and then they can give you some of the best tools to ensure that your business is living up to its full potential. The biggest thing that a business analyst does is try to find ways to make a business more efficient.
For example, if your business is running behind in terms of software or is constantly struggling to make legacy systems keep up with the demands of the modern world, a business analyst can help you get into the modern era. Additionally, business analysts can identify patterns and help you get back on track by understanding why your business pitfalls the way that it does.
Often, many businesses get into a ‘feast or famine’ mode where they are constantly either doing really well or severely struggling to make ends meet. This happens with both huge companies and very small businesses, and that’s not how businesses should go. Businesses need to be on a relatively steady growth curve, where there might be some bad months or small gaps, but nothing to the extent of a feast or famine mode.
The data will show why the business rises and falls the way it does, and a business analyst will be able to help guide the business into that steady curve of growth.
A business analyst makes the data easy to understand
Often, even if a business owner or the stakeholders of a company have some understanding of how data works or why it is so important to the future of the business, that is not enough. Because gathering a ton of data points is often very hard, and understanding the story they are trying to tell you is even harder, let alone knowing what to do with it.
Many business analysts are not just very good at understanding the data points and reading them to find patterns; they are also very good at communication. This communication also allows them to effectively share their findings in ways that are very easy to understand for both business owners and shareholders. This allows for a better connection between the data and the people and the business that the data is designed to impact and often allows for increased support when it comes to finding ways to use the data.
One of the biggest skills of a business analyst is the ability to communicate effectively with others and be open to listening and having a detailed conversation. Just because the data tells one story or has one solution, that doesn’t mean that that solution is the best for the business. Thankfully, if you hire a good business analyst, you will be able to have these conversations as well as gain a detailed understanding of how your business works and what you need to do to respect the data.
A business analyst is always able to solve problems as they arise
If there is one constant in the world of business, it is that things are never constant. New ways of marketing, new technologies, new products, new ways in which customers interact with your business, the growth of competitors, and the ever-changing world of supply and demand mean that the world of business is going to keep you on your toes. If you don’t learn to adapt and make the choices necessary to keep your business afloat and prosperous in the world, then your business is going to struggle and fail.
With a constant barrage of problems happening in your business, you will need the help of a business analyst. They are trained and prepared to take on all of the issues that come with the ever-changing world of business, and they have the problem-solving skills to take on any issue. Business analysts are trained and prepared to see new trends and new possibilities even before they become public knowledge, and then they help your business get on top of them.
Additionally, a business analyst needs to be able to analyze not only the technology and computer platform you are on but also any advances you plan to make in the future. Business analysts tend to look forward to the latest technologies in the field of business because it is one thing to be able to get the best outcomes from your current software. But it is another thing to find the best possible outcomes with the newest cutting-edge technology and many business analysts often design and implement those systems themselves!
Business analysts know how to educate and improve their coworkers
Of course, all of this data management and the creation of new ways of doing things are great. It can create some brand-new avenues for the business to reach its goals, overcome its problems, and make sure that success is well within reach for the business owners and the shareholders. However, what can be a problem is actually implementing the tools that the business analyst has created companywide.
Change is difficult for anyone to properly adapt to, and that is no different for a big business. Having to shift gears on a project, change to a new operating system, or take on additional responsibilities is always going to be a massive issue for any company. But a business analyst knows how to properly educate their coworkers and walk every single person in the business through the new changes.
Many business analysts have management skills as well, allowing them to teach effectively, direct the implementation of their new changes in the company, and forecast new changes that will occur during times of upheaval within a business. They know how to handle a job from its start to its finish, and they will make sure that every coworker they have knows what they need to do.
But along with educating their coworkers on how to best ensure they are following the new plans and using the new technology correctly, they can also help improve the entire team. As they teach employees how to use the data effectively to support the business, they can also gain insights into how the employees and the teams in your business work together.
If the employees have feedback or some new ideas about how to work within the new system, then a business analyst can provide feedback and create new processes to make the team’s work much easier and faster. This also provides benefits for the company, so it is a true win-win.
Many business analysts are experienced
Whether you are a new business owner trying to make ends meet and keep the lights on or an experienced business owner focused on making sure you will hit a profit this quarter, you are going to need help from a business analyst. Thankfully, many business analysts are actually very experienced within the field of business, as they need to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in order to apply for many of the positions that are available and open to them. Often, many business analysts will get an online Master’s in Business Analytics in order to further educate themselves and stand out from the competition. St. Bonaventure University’s online course fosters the hands-on experience in analytical programming, data warehousing, data visualization, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics needed to be a successful business analyst.
Additionally, many business analysts work jobs within the field of study they want to analyze, such as working in the business sector, working as a data analyst, or working in the world of finance. Then, after they get a few years of relevant experience working in their field, they choose to focus fully on becoming a business analyst. What this means for you is that whenever you hire a business analyst and depend on them for their help, you will be getting someone who has worked in the field and who knows what they are doing.
Business analysts give you tangible value
Unlike some other jobs, many business analysts will be able to give you and your company a lot of value. And it will have value that you can see and understand right from the get-go. They will often get right to work, making sure that they point out and prioritize all of the problems and operational needs that your business has, and then they will begin to share solutions and ensure that your business has a plan moving forward.
The ability to prioritize is often overlooked, but it is a skill that will be used often whenever it comes time to manage all of the problems your business has. Because your business will have a lot of problems, or at least a lot of places where it could be doing much better, and often many business owners won’t know where to start fixing the problems. If they choose to throw time and resources at the wrong one, then it can potentially allow all of the other problems to get worse and cause unforeseen consequences down the line.
This is where a business analyst can really come in and help out, because they will connect the problems that you have with your requirements and objectives as a business and will outline each problem by severity. Then they will create an effective plan and an effective communication system in order to make sure that each problem gets solved.
Business analysts remove risks
Most risks in a business are things that business owners don’t want to deal with at all. If they see a problem arise, many business owners try to course-correct and remove the obstacle, or they simply plow through it and take the consequences on the chin. But with a business analyst, they focus on identifying the various problems that can occur in a business before they happen and eliminating them so they never impact the business in the first place.
Additionally, many business analysts don’t just focus on the big aspects of data management for the company; they also try to optimize and save time with the smaller aspects of your business as well. For example, some of the tasks your employees do every day take too much time and can be very easily automated to improve efficiency.
Business analysts can look at the day-to-day life of your business as well and use various tools in order to make sure that you aren’t losing time and money on the small scale as well as in the big picture.
You need to hire a business analyst for your business
It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, where your business is, or what you think you need. A business analyst is going to help you analyze the one thing that every single business in the world runs on, and that is data! Your business has thousands of data points that it is not using successfully, and if you don’t know how best to use them, then you are falling behind.
Get a business analyst that can interpret the data for you and show you the best way to use the data to find real success. You will not regret working with the best business analyst you can get because you will see some tangible growth and some real progress.