As Featured On EzineArticles  By Narain Balchandani

Competencies are described as the ability to do a particular activity to prescribed standard.
The competencies can be classified into three categories

1. Behaviour  Skill  and Personal Qualities
  1.1 Balanced behaviour
  1.2 Leadership
  1.3 Problem Solving
  1.4  Attention to Details
  1.5 Critical Thinking and Analytical Skill
  1.6 Flexibility  to Manage Situation
  1.7 Team working
  1.8 Influencing
  1.9 Communication

1.10 Relationship-Building

2 .Business Knowledge
2.1 Finance and Economy
2.2 Business Case Development
2.3 Domain Knowledge
2.4 Subject Matter Expert
2.5 Principle of IT
2.6 Organization Structure and Design
2.7 Procurement

3. Techniques

3.1 Requirements Engineering
3.2 Stakeholders analysis and management
3.3 Facilitation Techniques
3.4 Business System Modeling
3.5 Business Process Modeling
3.6 Managing Business change
3.7 Data Modeling
3.8 Investigation Technique
3.9 Project management
3.10 Strategy Analysis  

    Behaviour  Skill  and Personal Qualities
      Balanced Behaviour

     This is an ability to work out what is and what is not commercially acceptable in an organization. Having commercial and political awareness by the way emphatically does not mean accepting statue qua. It does mean using resourcefulness and being astute to get results, even in the face of opposition. Balanced behaviour means forcing a issue but moderately, firm but not arrogant.  

1.2 Leadership
There is a never one solution for all problems .Leader should have the capability to understand the context of the problem and provide an effective solution.
1.3 Problem solving
A business analyst has to approach   an issue with the outlook that problem can be solved. A variation on this is that even if the optimal solution cannot be implemented for financial, technical or political reasons, then the business analyst must be pragmatic and be prepared to find other solutions that will yield at least some benefit.

1.4 Attention to Details
 Many   business cases fail because there is no sufficient detailed evidence for the proposed change. When a project is handed over to IT specialists, they often find many important issues if the detail have not been addressed. Having an eye for the details is also an important attribute of a good business analyst.

1.5Critical Thinking and Analytical Skill
 Business analyst have a common sense to ascertain  what data are relevant  and what are irrelevant and separate vital factors from less important  many critical thinking is achieve by experience  and differentiate what  factor to concentrate and what to leave.

1.6 Flexibility to manage situation
 This is an extremely important quality. Business analyst must have sufficient self confidence in himself, in the quality of his analysis   and the correctness in his solution, be able to withstand the pressure and sustain his point of view

1.7 Team working with data’s
 Business analyst often work in teams, A nature of understanding  of the role within the team and what needs  to be done  and appreciation of the working style of others  are, therefore important  to ensure that the project objectives are achieved.

1.8 Influencing
 Influencing needs careful consideration and prior planning. Business analysts have to develop   an understanding of where   the other party stands on their proposal, the likely resistance and influencing style needed to approach the person or the group. For example, some managers might defer all the decisions to another group require information at a very detailed level or ask only for high level summary. Some may be interested in technicalities, others just vision or big picture. Tailoring the approach is vital for a successful outcome. The business analysts are often influenced to take or suggest another course of action. This may involve another round of influencing, facilitating a roundtable discussion and seeking the support of senior colleagues in the best course of action.

1.9 Communication
Communication is the most important skill that human possess. It encompasses building rapport, listening, influencing and creating empathy. Most analysis work involves collecting and analyzing data and presenting back information that brings new perspective on the project so as to propose a course of action. If the communication is not good between the staffs, it leads to frustration when there is a failure to do obvious thing. Communication between business colleagues must be in a language and style that they are comfortable with and avoid what they perceive as techno-babble. Business analyst must adjust their communication to align with the people they are talking to.

1.10 Relationship Building
This is an extension of communication skill and concerns the ability to get on well with people at a working if not social level. Some people possess this ability naturally and others have to work on it.  Business analyst must get to the people to impart information and share opinions and listen to ideas for change.

2Business Knowledge
2.1 Finance and Economy
The universal language of business is finance. A business analyst needs to have a good working knowledge of the economy and of the basics of business finance. It includes a general understanding of financial reports such as balance sheet, profit-and -loss account, financial analysis tools such as ratio analysis and principles of costing.

2.2 Business Case Development
Much of analyst’s work will be to assess the costs and benefits of delivering a project    to the organization .When communicating analysis findings; you need to ensure that you have a view of the financial impact   on the project. IT is an enabling tool for the business benefits to be achieved. Business analysis projects involve other specialist like management accountants to understand and model the business activities and determine how IT can deliver financial benefit. To develop business case, a basic understanding of finance is required along with financial workings business area. Business analysts involved in business case preparation has to understand basic investment appraisal techniques and work closely with finance department.
             
 2.3 Domain Knowledge
 It gives general understanding of a business domain. Apart from general domain, specific domain knowledge is required for the following reasons;

    It enables you to talk sensibly with the business people involved in the project, in a language that they can understand. It helps you to understand what would and would not acceptable or useful in the business domain. It may enable you take ideas.
      Subject Matter Expert

 It takes domain knowledge to a lower level of detail. The level of expertise depends on the type of work being done. Business analysts may be specialist in particular domain ,with a strong and detailed understanding of the subject area, can pinpoint  areas for improvement , development and identify what needs to change, to analyze using  existing knowledge and contact. The key point is to assess how well competencies meet the needs of the current situation and to recognize where competencies needs some improvements.
                 
2.5 Principle of IT
Many business analysts do not have an IT background. However, many business analysis projects result in the use of IT in some or the other way. General understanding of the field is necessary for a business analyst so that he can communicate meaningfully with IT professionals .The key requirement is that business analyst must understand the technical terms used by IT specialist. Since IT solutions are often investigated by business analyst, the latter should have an understanding of IT fundamentals, including areas such as

    How computers work, including operating systems, application software, hardware and networks. System –development  lifecycle System – development approaches The Relative pros and cons of developing systems and buying system  “off the shelf’; Trends and new opportunities that IT brings, such as ecommerce, grid computing and mobile technologies and how these impact systems development.

2.6 Organization Structure and Design
Business analysis projects involve restructuring organization to a greater or a lesser degree, to improve the customer service. It is important for business analysts to have a good understanding of the various organization structures   that may be encountered - function, project, and matrix and so on – and of their relative strength and weakness.

2.7 Procurement
Most organization use external suppliers to deliver their IT systems. Selecting an appropriate sourcing strategy involves assessing the work and deciding the most appropriate way to take the project forward on sound commercial term. Once the analyst has worked out the type  that is required , they need to assess the most appropriate  supplier – internal and external- to take work forward and what commercial terms has to employed. A business analyst needs a broad understanding of contractual arrangements that is shown below:

    Time and Materials: where the contracted party is paid on the basis of the time worked.
    Fixed –price delivery: where the contracted party is paid the price that originally agreed for the delivery of a piece of work according to the precise specification. Risk and reward: where  the contracted party has agreed  to bear some  or  all of the risk of the project ,for  example by investing  resources such as  staff time , materials  or office space, but where potential rewards  are greater than under other contractual arrangements.

3. Techniques
3.1 Requirements Engineering
This is the set of practices and processes that lead to the development of the       set of the well-informed business and system requirements, from which IT and other solutions are developed.

3.2 Stakeholders analysis and management
 This includes understandings who are the stake holders in a business analysis project and working out how their interests are best managed.

      Facilitation Techniques

The interpersonal skills required for effective facilitation is usually exhibited within the context of a workshop. Effective facilitation usually results from  a combination  of the  right qualities in the facilitator  and the choice of the right   techniques to match  the  task  and  the  cultural context  of the organization  in which it is being  used.

 3.4 Business System Modeling
Business System Modeling is an approach to understand business systems through the creation of the conceptual models of those systems.

3.5 Business Process Modeling
A business system model looks at the entire business system in overview, more detailed process models are used to map and analyze how   business process actually works and helps to identify opportunities for process improvement.

3.6 Managing Business change
This covers the techniques needed to implement changes within the organization and to make them ‘stick’.

3.7     Data Modeling
 Analyzing the data held and used within a business system   affords valuable insights into   how a business operates .For e.g. what are the data items that are held about the customers?      What is the relationship between customers, products and suppliers?

3.8 Investigation Technique
To get   to the root of a business issue the analyst will have to undertake detailed analysis of the area.

3.9 Project management
 The list of project management context and process: scope management, integration management, time management, cost management, quality management, resource management, human management, risk management and procurement management. Business analyst may not necessarily exhibit his skills in all these areas, but if the project team is small the business analyst may be required to undertake the role of project manager.There is some project skill that an analyst should have.
             For e.g. understanding project initiation is vital as it allows the analyst to understand define the terms of reference  for the project .It is important that the analyst should understand project management planning  approaches –he or she will have to work within  a plan – and is aware of particularly relevant aspects , such as quality and risk management

      Strategy Analysis

 This covers a range of techniques that can be used to understand the business direction and the strengths and weakness of an organization, or part of an organization.
                   
How can I develop my competency?
The first step in developing as a business analyst is to understand the competency required of a business analyst in your organization. This should include an assessment both the current and the future competencies required .The HR department provides an outline definition of the competencies required of the business analyst in the organization. Future competencies are more difficult to assess and depends on the factors such as projects that may develop in future, business issues and technological developments. The organizations may already have a framework in its place or could use the existing framework such as Skill framework for Information Age (SFIA).

There are three ways in which business analysts can develop competencies:

    Training Self-study  Work experience

Training
Class room-based training allows skills to be learned and practiced in a relatively safe environment, with a trainer on hand to support, guidance and encouragement. Computer –based training is also good if the skills to be practiced are primarily technical in nature.

Self-study
Self-study is an excellent way for analysts to grow their business knowledge. Apart from reading textbooks, browsing publications such as the Financial Times, The Economist, the Harvard Business Review and other technical publications and professional journals will broaden and deepen the analyst’s understanding of the business world.
Self-study is an excellent way for analysts to grow their business knowledge. Apart from reading textbooks, browsing publications such as the Financial Times, The Economist, the Harvard Business Review and other technical publications and professional journals will broaden and deepen the analyst’s understanding of the business world.

Work experience
This provides an opportunity to use and improve  techniques and to deepen the knowledge .It is best way a business analyst can develop their behaviour skills and personal qualities The performance of most analysts improves overtime as their experience  grows ,but this can be heightened and accelerated if our if the organization operates a proper coaching or mentoring programme.

The Skills Framework for the Information Age
SFIA and SFIAplus are the two major standard frameworks for definition of skills and competencies in the information system field. Both frame works include definition for the skill set of business analysis, define various levels of competency for each skill, and can be used as building blocks for any job role that requires these skills

SFIA
The description of overall skill set provided in SFIA framework for business analysis is as follows:

The methodical investigation, analysis, review and documentation of all or part of a business in terms of business functions and processes, and the information they use. The definition of requirements for improving any aspect of the processes and systems. The creation of viable specifications in the preparation for construction of information and communication systems.

In each level defined for business analysis, SFIA provides a more detailed definition of the skills required, for e.g. for level 4 is states:

The analysis, design, creation, testing and documentation of new and amended programs from supplied specifications in accordance with agreed standards.

    Creates requirements specification and business case for development of ICT solutions by investigating business process and business needs.

SFIA plus provides the sane description for business analysis skill set as SFIA, but also
provides details of the following:
 
Related skill set (in this case, data analysis business process improvement and system design)
    Technical Overview, including typical tools  and techniques ; Overview  of training, development and qualification ; Careers and jobs ; Professional bodies; Standard and codes of practice; Communities and events ; Publication and resource.

For each applicable level within this skill set (3-6 in the case of business analysis), detail are also provided under the following heading:

    Background; Work activities ; Knowledge /skills Training activities Professional development activities Qualifications.

Although SFIAplus provides more detail than SFIA, it is important to realize that the two frameworks should be implemented in different ways.
SFIAplus should be treated as a standard and is not designed to be customized, where as SFIA is intended to be used as a basis for tailoring to an organization.
SFIAplus enables organizations to classify and benchmark their IT skills and to train and develop their teams to meet the defined skill requirements .As a business analyst, this provides a basis for you to gauge where you are against the skills and corresponding level of competence defined in the framework.
The final step is to identify a set if actions that will help your development.

    Seek out assignments that give you opportunities to develop. Identify a role model who demonstrates your desired competencies. Ask them what is required or ask them to mentor your development or arrange to work for them direct. Use training providers to target specifically those areas that need development. Consider a secondment to an organization that excels in the required competencies. Do your research  into specific competencies Ask for a regular feedback from your boss or experts. Join an industry specialist group. Develop as you go and gain from experience. Record what you’ve learned so that you don’t forget.