What Does a Business Analyst Do?

Business AnalystProject team members who have both business and information technology skills may seek to fulfill the role of business analyst, but many would ask what does a business analyst do? Companies initiate projects to solve business problems and to meet strategic goals. In this case, there are no such things as information technology (IT) projects because IT is simply used as part of the solutions for business problems. Legitimate projects must align with business requirements, and assisting with the definition of those business requirements is the job of business analysts.

Business Analyst Functions During Early Project Management Phases

The five phases of project management are generally recognized as project initiation, planning, execution, control and closure. It is during the first two phases that business analysts conduct their most important work. Business analysts have unique opportunities to work with senior leadership to document the project’s scope and charter that are tied to the organization’s strategic plan. The defined scope sets the boundaries for the project and determines a completion date. Business analysts then evaluate the problem and identify requirements that represent what needs to be done, but not how the problem will be solved, according the degree program at Villanova University.

Business Analyst Role in Later Phases of the Project Management Phases

Although the bulk of the work that a business analyst does gets completed during the first phases of the project management life cycle, many analysts remain available as part time members of the project team to ensure that business requirements are rightly understood. They also map project tasks to requirements to ensure that all of the business requirements are addressed by project activities associated with detailed specifications. Business analysts also maintain communication channels with the project’s user or their designated representative. This ensures no surprises when the project manager delivers the solution that is supposed to be the resulting translation of business needs into a new product or service.

Business Analysis Beyond Project Management

Business analysts are also involved in organizational process improvement efforts. They analyze the current business environment and suggest process improvements to help organizations meet their strategic goals more efficiently. Their research and analysis skills as well as their up to date knowledge of IT solutions allow them to correctly align with process improvement efforts. Business analysts also function as change consultants to make advisory suggestions to implement process improvements without disrupting operations.

Related Resource: Master’s in IT Degrees

Maintaining Proficiency in the Business Analysis Career Field

Business analysts acquire research and analysis skills through a combination of education, training and project experience. Students who enroll in undergraduate business degree programs often take project management or other analytical courses that help hone the skills that they will need as business analysts. High growth, innovative companies often send their employees who demonstrate analytical capabilities and attention to detail to special training programs designed for business analysts. These companies hope that the trained employees will help them safely navigate their organizations through complex projects that lead to competitive advantage in the market place. Also, business analysts who are interested in advancing their careers can earn their certification in business analysis through the International Institute of Business Analysis.


A business analyst assesses the goals of an organization and the areas of short fall to define a project’s business requirements. As a result, the answer to the question of what does a business analyst do is best summed up in the function of requirements identification and definition.