Business analysis focuses on helping businesses and organizations improve their success and market advantage through the gathering and reporting of data. Business analysts do this by using statistical and mathematical data. This data is clustered, segmented and scored in order to predict likely trends and scenarios in an industry or for a specific business.

There are many different business analysis techniques, each with its own uses. Some of these techniques include:

  • PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental)
  • Heptalysis (includes market opportunities, products and solutions, execution plans, financial engines, human capital, potential return and margin of safety)
  • STEER (Sociocultural, Technological, Economic, Ecological and Regulatory Factors)
  • MOST (Mission, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics)
  • SCOT (Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities and Threats)
  • CATWOE (Customers, Actors, Transformation Process, Worldview, Owner and Environmental Constraints)
  • Five Whys (Every question that is asked is followed by a “why?”)
  • De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats (A brainstorming technique that uses colors to create “moods”)

The sub-disciplines of business analysis include the following:

  • Enterprise analysis and company analysis
  • Requirements planning and management
  • Requirements analysis and documentation
  • Requirements communication
  • Solution assessment and validation

Each one of these sub-disciplines is a part of business analysis. Depending on what a client organization needs or expects of a business analyst’s work, a business analyst may use any or all of these tools to fulfill the requirements.

How Is Business Analysis Used?

This ultimately helps businesses and companies, even whole industries, make improvements, organizational changes, policy changes and strategic plans. Business analysts investigate and research business systems and examine elements in order to make suggestions and find development issues that can negatively affect systems. Business analysts also improve operations by examining organizational structures and staff development needs. They use process redesigns and other kinds of changes in order to meet new needs and trends in the industry.

Businesses use business analysts as internal consultants in order to investigate and research their organizational structure and business systems. Most business analysts focus on information systems that are used by organizations in order to ensure that the information technology in a company actually meets its needs.

How Do I Become a Business Analyst?

Most employers require business analysts to have a bachelor’s degree in business. After graduating, most aspiring business analysts gain work experience in business management, human resources, information technology and other related fields. The Institute of Management Consultants offers certifications through its Certified Management Consultant exam. Many business analysts choose to go on to pursue a Master of Business Administration as well.

Southeastern University Online offers a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Business Analysis major. This program focuses on the concepts of business analysis like information systems, data analysis and project management. Graduates of this program are also equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue the following industry certifications:

  • Microsoft Office Excel Basic and Advanced
  • International Institute of Business Analysis (Level 1)
  • Project Management Institute Body of Knowledge for Certified Associate in Project Management

Career Growth and Salary Potential for Business Analysts

The average salary for a business analyst is $66,913, according to PayScale. Many business analysts go on to pursue careers as project managers, information technology managers and eventually senior systems analysts, chief information officers and more.