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Business analysts: role changes require new skill sets

Business analysts: role changes require new skill sets

The business analyst's job has changed this year -- and so have the critical skills that companies demand. New research shows that while communication is still key, knowledge of Lean and Agile methods is a must-have as well.

During the past year, CIO.com has examined the critical role that business analysts play inside today's corporate IT environments, straddling the bridge between IT and business teams at project time. We looked at what business analysts actually did for software implementation projects; explained why BAs were so important for CIOs and IT; identified the six secrets of top-notch business analysts; and showed how BAs can help drive technology strategy that increases revenue.

But like just about everything else in corporate America, there's been a change this year in the skill sets that business analysts now need to succeed.

That's the conclusion of a new Forrester Research report based on a survey of 900 business analysts conducted by Forrester and The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

"While strong abilities in communication, collaboration and analysis will always be the mainstays of strong business analysts, our changing technology environment is altering the world in which business analysts commonly work-and therefore changing the skills they require," writes Forrester analyst Mary Gerush, in the report (subscription required).

Gerush notes that while a BA's traditional skill set is still king-those decidedly non-technical leadership, communication and business-process understanding traits-changes in software delivery methods have altered what business analysts need to offer right now. Two, in particular, include:

The Rise of Agile Methodologies and Lean Concepts "It's the end of traditional software delivery as we know it, thanks to Agile and Lean," Gerush writes. The survey found that 41 percent of respondents are using Agile techniques and 10 percent are exposed to Lean concepts.

"Organizations are trying and implementing new, lighter-weight software delivery processes on a large scale," Gerush notes. "And this is changing the world of the business analysts, who need stay up to date with changes in methodologies, understand changes to their roles, and modify their practices accordingly."

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