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How to become a business analyst in the IT sector

Posted: 18 Aug 2020

How to become a business analyst in the IT sector

Becoming a business analyst can be a great way to develop your career in IT, but how do you get into this area if you don’t have previous experience?

For IT professionals, business analysis is one of the most interesting areas to work in because it bridges the gap between software developers and end users. The role of the analyst is to translate user requirements into technical language so that developers can design applications to meet user needs. Typically, this involves:

  • Engaging with internal teams to gather and document user requirements,
  • Working closely with the IT developers and organisation stakeholders,
  • Managing relationships with external parties such as suppliers and customers,
  • Helping end users understand the technical aspects of business processes so that projects can be managed efficiently and delivered on time.

So, how do you become a technical business analyst?

“Many business analysts have relevant IT or computer science degrees but we also see analysts who have switched into IT from other disciplines — particularly process-driven disciplines like finance that have a good understanding of how the various departments across a large organisation work,” says Eolas Recruitment Managing Director Vincent Flynn.

“To be successful as a business analyst you need to have a good understanding of business processes and be able to solve complex problems. You don’t necessarily have to have an IT background but you do need to understand how IT systems work. You also have to be confident and have good people skills because you need to be able to manage relationships across all levels of an organisation. Not everyone can do this well, but for those who can, business analysis can be a great career,” says Vincent.

What are the education requirements for a technical business analyst?

Typically, employers hiring technical business analysts will specify that candidates should have a university degree or diploma in a relevant field such as IT or computer science and/or have relevant professional training and experience. Post-qualification and industry certifications are also important.

As Senior Recruiter Peter Kirby explains, “You might think you have a strong chance of landing a role because you have a good degree and a bit of relevant experience or strong transferable skills but more often than not you will be competing with candidates that have post-qualification technical or management accreditations. The more senior the role that you’re applying for, the more likely this is— not just for business analysis roles but also for many other roles from project management through to information and cybersecurity, cloud and DevOps.”

At the time of writing, courses available in Ireland include an Online Diploma in Business Analysis offered by Ibat and a Certificate in Business Analysis programme run by the National College of Ireland in association with the Business Analysts Association of Ireland. Griffith College offers a Business Analysis Foundation course which is conducted on a part-time basis over a four-day period. There are also programmes leading to professional certification for more experienced analysts such as the International Institute of Business Analysis Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) and Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA).

We previously discussed the importance of industry accreditations in our article on how to increase your chance of getting the IT job you want.

Transferable skills that a technical business analyst needs

Because the role of the technical business analyst involves leasing with people across the organisation, interpersonal and soft skills are very important. Skills that a potential employer is likely to look for include:

  • Communication skills (oral, written and presentation skills)
  • Flexibility
  • Negotiation and influencing skills
  • Confidence to deal with people at all levels in an organisation
  • Analytical and decision-making skills
  • Problem solving and ability to think outside the box
  • Ability to work under pressure

Senior Recruiter Nollaig Leydon says that it’s a good idea to think about examples that demonstrate how you have used these skills in the past as you may need to be able to cite these examples if you get a competency-based interview for a business analyst role.

“It is great if you are able to show that you have successfully delivered projects in the past and that you have proven ability to build relationships and work with people at across all levels in an organisation. If you can show that you understand Agile and Lean Six Sigma that is also very good. Then there are the basics like attention to detail and good communication. Some roles also specify specific requirements such as experience with tools like JIRA and Confluence, Excel skills, SQL and Visio skills,” says Nollaig.

What types of experience can help you become a technical business analyst?

“When it comes to experience, if you have worked in an environment with a business analyst or as a software tester, that can be helpful,” adds Senior Recruiter Stephen Daly who says that as well as the skills Nollaig outlined above, examples of requirements for senior technical business analyst roles include:

  • Experience of managing change projects from both a business and IT change perspective.
  • Proven experience of feasibility studies, documenting requirements and assessing business readiness.
  • Highly developed analytical and innovative problem solving skills.
  • Aptitude to learn quickly and apply knowledge across different contexts.
  • Ability to work effectively within a team environment.

Practical steps you can take now if you want to switch careers and become a technical business analyst

When asked what practical steps someone without previous business analysis experience can take when preparing to switch career, the Eolas Recruitment team suggested focusing on the following key areas:

  • Update your CV focusing on any skills you already have that are particularly relevant for a career in business analysis. We previously shared tips on how to optimise your tech CV to maximise your chances of landing the job you want.
  • Talk to your manager about opportunities to transfer into a business analysis environment with your existing employer — this can help you acquire the experience you need to progress your career.
  • Look for opportunities to network with business analysts. Often, IT professionals who have made the move will be willing to share tips with you.
  • Build a good relationship with a specialist IT recruiter like Eolas Recruitment who can help you find opportunities, analyse your skills and advise on what you need to do to prepare for your switch into a business analyst role.

What can I expect to earn as a technical business analyst

Salaries for many roles are negotiable depending on your qualifications and previous experience. A good way to get an idea of what to expect is to check out our Business Analyst job listings. At the time of writing, a ballpark guide for roles with around two years experience is circa €50,000-€65,000 per annum.

We also encourage you to check Eolas Recruitment’s informational videos, website and online reviews where you will find information on the many opportunities to advance your career in Ireland’s dynamic tech sector.

For more information and/or a chat in confidence, please get in touch.

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