What makes a good Business Analyst?

Philosophy’s tough at the best of times, but this was first thing in the morning and I was attending a job interview and the question ‘What makes a good Business Analyst?’ felt a bit like a curve ball.   I thought for a moment or two and said:

Don’t write this down – but what makes a good Business Analyst is schizophrenia.  

I didn’t mean it literally of course. What I meant is that good BAs have to hold several different views in their mind at one time:

  • we must take a business-eye view of things and a technical view
  • we  must be able to see the big picture and focus on the detail
  • we must be able to work out how things separate out and how they connect together 

The Zen of Business Analysis, if you like.

Sure, there are technical skills and toolsets and methodologies and techniques of course, but they can be learned.  And a BA who cannot communicate is a waste of budget and not a BA at all.  

But the bit that’s born not made is the ability to understand that light is both a wave and a particle, and be ok with it that way.


6 responses to “What makes a good Business Analyst?

  1. Hi Ben,

    I really like your answer! Very true!

    I’m curious what reaction you got.

    – Adrian

  2. Thanks again for the answer… I got to use it right away:

    Getting started with Business Analysis

  3. Hi Adrian

    The immediate response was “good answer” but I was pipped to the post by someone with more experience of the product which was probably the decision I’d have made in the same circumstances.

    Internal job markets are never entirely level playing fields, but though I lost that one on the roundabouts I got the next one on the swings. 🙂


  4. You’re right! In big companies there seems to be a bias towards internal transfers and, for most part, for good reasons.

    Your example though also shows the importance/value of specialization for business analysts. Specific product knowledge (in addition to vertical domain) is surely part of specialization.

    – Adrian

  5. Definitely.

    It is much easier to get a job if you have industry and product knowledge, and you can contribute far more quickly.

    It’s also much easier to DO the job!



  6. I am currently working as Recruiter in a Staffing company.. i am doing PGDM from AIMA affiliated College..i want to make my career as Business Analyst. please advise me the specialization to opt … thank you.

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