What is a Business Analyst, and what do they do?

After several years of working as a Business Analyst, commonly referred to as a “BA” in the industry, I have found that I struggle at times to explain what I do, particularly to people that have never worked as one, or with one. Even people within the industry, who are familiar with the term, still don’t completely understand what I do day-to-day.

So what does a Business Analyst do? My typical answer to people who are not familiar with the industry is that I work as the ‘bridge’ between business and IT. The business will tell me what their needs are, and I will translate them into technical language and requirements in order to make them possible. This is a very simplified version of my role, but it is the most simple way of explaining what I do as a Business Analyst.

To really understand what a Business Analyst does, we need to break it down. Business Analyst comes from the term ‘business analysis’, the practice of identifying the needs of a business and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. The purpose is to ensure that there is an alignment between business needs and business change solutions. The importance of the Business Analyst is to help Managers achieve this.

Core responsibilities of a Business Analyst:

  • Investigate business systems e.g examine the structure of an organisation, assess current processes, and their IT systems.
  • Evaluate actions to improve the operations of a business system.
  • Document business requirements (using documentation standards).
  • Define requirements to support business users.

According to Paul, Cadle and Yeates (2014), the role of a business analyst can be defined as “an advisory role which has the responsibility for investigating and analysing business situations, identifying and evaluation options for improving business systems, elaborating and defining requirements, and ensuring the effective implementation and use of information systems in line with the needs of the business”.

Besides this, according to the seniority of the role or the specialisation of the Business Analyst, other areas can be covered:

  • Strategy implementation – work closely with senior management regarding business strategy.
  • Benefits realisation – post-implementation reviews to evaluate if benefits were achieved.
  • Specification of IT requirements – for more specialised IT BA’s.

If you are interested in developing your career in this role, bear in mind that there are some core competencies that are fundamental to developing the role correctly, and ones that make you stand out amongst other BA’s.

In terms of personal qualities, I would emphasise:

  • Communication
  • Team building
  • Analytical skills and critical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem solving
  • Leadership

All of these are related to working and influencing stakeholders, conducting research, and asking questions as well as working to find the solutions. 

As for business knowledge, it is important to understand business case development and how it adds value to know the domain. It is important to also have a good knowledge of the core principles of information technology since we have established earlier that a Business Analyst is the bridge between business and IT. 

In relation to professional techniques, stakeholder analysis and management is essential as a BA works with many different groups whilst conducting gap analysis (the comparison of actual performance with potential or desired performance).

So, what does a Business Analyst do?

Business Analysts start by investigating and analysing the “as is” (the current situation of a company/department/project), and gathering the requirements from the business of what the “to be” is (the desired situation). When this information has been collected, the Business Analyst can conduct the gap analysis and define and document the requirements needed in order to fulfil the needs of the business. 

To give a practical example, suppose that a company wants to improve their platform, the business team would provide the Business Analyst with a view of the current platform and clarify what are the improvements that they need and/or desire. The Business Analyst will perform the analysis and investigate further (if necessary) in order to document all of the business and technical requirements in order to pass them to the IT team. 

I hope that now it is more clear as to what a Business Analyst does! Business Analysts are helping different  organisations on finding potential solutions to business problems and opportunities by understanding their needs and aligning them with constant business changes.


  • Paul, Debra., & Cadle, James., & Yeates, Donald. (2014). Business Analysis (3rd Edition). BCS Learning & Development Ltd
  • Terra, John. (2011). What is a Business analyst and what does a Business analyst do. https://www.simplilearn.com/what-is-a-business-analyst-article