As you may know, the role of a business analyst in an IT project covers a variety of activities; One moment you’re organising a workshop with key users to distil their actual needs, the next you’re translating these needs into requirements and after that you may find yourself presenting a business case to convince a tough audience to go for a certain solution.
Whatever you do, your focus is always to bridge the gap between business and IT. This can be a complex, challenging but also very satisfying task.
To be successful as a business analyst you therefore need to have many tools at your disposal. Besides that, it is best to have all these tools available at any given moment; Of course, you must properly prepare your work, however it might be the case that due to today’s very busy schedules meetings are to be completed prior to the scheduled time and you need to act fast. Thus, you should always be prepared and have your toolkit at hand.
A business analyst’s toolkit contains both hardware, software and other tools. Let’s go over the basics on all three groups of tools. For starters you need basic hardware, which nowadays consist of at least having a laptop, projector / beamer and smartphone. In some cases, for instance for a workshop, you might want to have some things printed out beforehand, so a printer is also a must-have.
When’s the hardware is all taken care of, it’s time for the software. There’s a large variety of communication tools available to support your needs, however the following are things you really need as a business analyst. For starters, you obviously need an e-mail client such as MS Outlook and tools for document processing, for both text and spreadsheets. I prefer to stick with the standards, MS Word and MS Excel. In addition to that a basic presentation tool such as MS PowerPoint is required to be able to transfer a message to an audience. Of course, Prezi is a good alternative, this can make your presentation better on the visual part. Also useful are chat-tools such as Skype if you quickly want an answer from someone without having to disturb them with a phone call. Furthermore, a file sharing tool might be useful, especially when you work together with a team. Most often used for this is MS SharePoint. Finally, it might be useful to have a dedicated diagramming tool at your disposal to visualise business processes. For this I prefer to use MS Visio.
Concerning the other tooling, the old school workshop toolkit still proves it’s use. Without a flipchart or whiteboard, post-it’s and markers you’re simply not able to visualise the input you receive during a workshop. Since visualising clears minds and breads creativity these items are a must-have as well for you to be successful as a business analyst.
If you have all mentioned tools at your disposal, you’re all set and good to go. Good luck!