I have no background in psychology but I do find myself acting the role of cubicle therapist. Although not explicit in the job description of a Business Analyst, it’s implied. Both roles require a great deal of analyzing human behavior. Some core competencies associated with the study of psychology and business analysis are listed below:
Psychologist Business Analyst
Analysis Skills Analysis Skills
Research Skills Research Skills
Written and Verbal Communication Written and Verbal Communication
Problem Solving Problem Solving
Interpersonal Skills Interpersonal Skills
Listening Skills Listening Skills
Observation Skills Observation Skills
Many of the soft skills of a business analyst that makes him/her successful is the ability to listen and elicit information from the business users. With that, building a trusting relationship that allows the user to feel comfortable sharing information is important. To take that one step further, we must also be able to interpret informal conversations into requirements. I’m not saying we should interpret a story about how someone’s yard is not as green this year into some requirement about how the system in question should automagically generate a series of reports based on how the user angles his chair; but listening to complaints and even work efficiency fantasies can result in some useful requirements gathering. Although not appropriate in all work environments, I’ve done some very successful requirements gathering sessions in the kitchen, on the elevator, and at happy hour. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has solved business problems over a block of 3 year aged Vermont cheddar.
Other competencies that are not too different from a psychiatrist include Facilitation and Negotiation. It’s inevitable that people can get emotional. In most projects we are faced with conflict and differing views. Being able to successfully play the role of moderator as well helps us to keep business users focused and still maintaining a level of trust.
I don’t want to underestimate that technical skills and knowledge that are needed for both roles, but I believe that technical skills can be learned, knowledge can be obtained, but the soft skills a person may possess makes a good business analyst. This is why a good business analyst must always Listen. Understand. Achieve.
About the Author
Sheryl Lampert is a consultant at Statera with more than 10 years of experience implementing technology solutions. When not at work, she’s planning her next mountaineering trip in the Colorado Rockies or dreaming of higher mountain expeditions overseas.