10 soft skills every business analyst needs

If you are in a typical business analyst role you live in two worlds. You have one foot in the specified business area you are supporting and the other foot in IT. Even worse, often you have to keep the peace when IT and your business users don’t get along.

That said, there are a number of soft skills that would be well worth your while to master. These include the following:

1. Negotiation skills: This will be of value when facilitating negotiations between IT and business users, you and IT regarding development resources, and you and the business users trying to minimize project scope creep.

2. Active listening: This will be of great value when trying to collect business requirements, provide quality internal client service, and when gathering information for status reports.

3. Dealing with conflict: This will be of value when IT and users disagree and/or when deadlines are being missed and tensions are running high.

4. Quality client service techniques: As a representative of the IT community, providing quality client service to the business users you support is critical to your job performance and career advancement.

5. Decision making: There are many formalized decision making techniques, such as a decision matrix, that can help you make quality, business appropriate, and defendable decisions that can help you to best service your internal clients and maximize your job performance.

6. Problem solving: Like decision making, there are formalized problem solving techniques, such as Five Whys and Brainstorming that can help you discover a problem’s root cause and define potential solutions.

7. Strategic thinking: Very often a business analyst must think outside-the-box to find innovative business solutions that meet their internal client’s needs. An understanding of strategic thinking techniques can help facilitate this process.

8. Technical writing: A key role of business analysis is the creation of business requirement specifications and other forms of documentation. Your ability to develop coherent, informative, and usable documents is a requirement for professional success.

9. Presentation and public speaking: Don’t underestimate the value of creating and delivering quality presentations on topics such as application designs, project status, and business requirements. Generally speaking, the people listening to your presentations are senior IT and business management people. Your ability to impress them with your presentation could have a significant effect on your career growth.

10. Team building: As a business analyst, you may be required to lead formalized and/or ad hoc teams. Your ability to structure, coordination, and lead these teams can not only make you more successful in your current role, but position you for future IT senior positions.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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