We must understand the role of a Business Analyst before we get into the screening process.
Primarily, a Business Analyst is responsible for the following:
Unearthing business needs – Discovering the business need and project requirements, mainly through conversations with stakeholders.
Studying Requirements – The business analyst needs to understand the business needs of the stakeholder and analyze them thoroughly.
Documenting Requirements – Documenting the requirements accurately and in such a format that can be shared with all stakeholders.
Getting the Requirements approved – After documentation the requirements must be approved and understood in the same sense by all the stakeholders.
Assessing the business analyst while recruiting can be a tricky task. Business analysts fill an interesting role in IT organizations. They act as a bridge between the users and the IT department. Their role in the development of IT solutions is crucial. They are not involved in the hands-on work of the users or the IT team but act as a liaison. Business Analyst’s often get criticism from the IT department for not appreciating or even understanding their work. The users invariably accuse them when the IT department's solution is properly executed but in spite of that it does not meet their requirements. So quite often they are at the receiving end from both the sides.
Managing this interface between IT and users can be a huge challenge for Business Analysts. It is equally difficult to hire someone to effectively do the job of a Business Analyst. Identifying the criteria to effectively screen a business analyst candidate is somewhat complex.
There must be clarity on the skills which are essential for successful performance in the job role.
Skills to look for in a Business Analyst
Business analysts must be effective communicators. The Business Analyst will need to engage with stakeholders and organize meetings. The Business Analyst needs to probe deeply to unearth the business problems through open and closed questions. The ability to listen and absorb is crucial. The ability to be a strong communicator using the latest communication tools such as Skype, conference calls etc. is important. .
Critical Thinking Skills:
Business analysts are responsible for outlining and evaluating multiple options before helping a team arrive at a solution. While unearthing the problem, business analysts must ask the stakeholders probing questions until the real need surfaces and is truly understood.
The Business Analyst should be able to generate accurate, clear and easy to understand documents.
Business analysts use a variety of techniques such as business process models to analyze the problem and the solution.
The ability to create visual models such as work-flow diagrams is useful.
Facilitation and Elicitation Skills:
BAs need to possess the ability to schedule meetings. The most common kinds of meetings a Business Analyst facilitates are interviews and observations.
Business Analysis Tools:
As a new business analyst, the ability to use basic office tools such as Microsoft Office is a sufficient criterion. Other technical skills include the ability to use modeling tools, requirements management tools or project and defect management tools.
The ability to forge strong relationships with stakeholders is an essential skill. Since the analyst needs to liaison between the user and IT teams the ability to build relations is at the core of his job.
Mentally strong enough to take Criticism:
BAs receive a barrage of feedback – on their documentation and ideas. A successful business analyst will separate feedback on the documents and proposals from feedback on the analyst personally.
It is not necessary for a business analyst to be able to write software codes though understanding the software product life cycle will definitely be useful for a business analyst.
Industry and Domain Expertise:
A business analyst doesn’t need to be an expert in every domain or industry, but knowledge or experience in the industry he will be engaging will be very useful.
A Strongly Recommended Business Analyst Test
In order to screen a candidate, it is vital to design a test which covers all the above skills.
The test must contain well balanced and meaningful questions on Analytical Thinking, Data Interpretation, Data Sufficiency, Listening, Comprehension and Writing Skills to accurately assess the basic, intermediate and advanced knowledge of each test taker.
An ideal test would contain the following sections -
Analytical Thinking – Questions on analytical thinking to assess the candidate's ability to successfully analyze and solve a wide variety of business problems. If any candidate is good in analytical thinking then he is good in problem solving and requirement analysis.
Data Interpretation – Data interpretation is part of daily life for most people. Interpretation involves understanding numerical data and graphical data.
Written Communication – Questions on Sentence Correction, Selecting Words, Spotting Errors, and Reading Comprehension.
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