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I have been with a software services firm for 5 years and have fallen into a "jack of all trades" role, which I am looking to move out of.

I've spent about 1 year each in programming (VB/VB.NET), application support, systems analysis, and most recently, software testing, which in my current position is all manual. I've really lost interest in the programming and testing roles; I would prefer a position where I get to work more with people, such as systems analysis. I even got a chance to be a trainer at the same company for a few months, a temporary position which I enjoyed very much.

Given that most of my real experience is with software, support, and testing, what knowledge areas and skills should I focus on learning and mastering in order to make myself an attractive candidate for a permanent position as a business/systems analyst?

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4 Answers 4

Here are in my mind what makes a good Systems Analyst:

  1. People skills, this is important since many times you are the face of the company to the client.
  2. Listening skills. Need to let the client talk, then digest later.
  3. Big picture. You need to be able to see the big picture. This means being able to visualize and talk too sometimes extremely complicated interactions between people and systems.
  4. Writing skills. You will be responsible for writing the specifications that will be used to build the system. You need to be able to concisely but completely capture the requirements.
  5. Separate design from requirements. Many times a client will have a solution in mind that is not correct. You have to be able to elicit their need from what they are asking. For example, they may ask for a scala system with a mongo db backend. What you need to write is "client foresees 1000 page views per day initially ramping to 10000". It will be up to the designer to decide what system will meet those needs.

Hope this helps.

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Thank you Bill, JB King nd Wayne for your answers –  shenaz Jun 30 '11 at 6:53

While this isn't necessarily a component to your question, have you considered trying to become a project manager? That would be another role where you'd be dealing more with people and coordinating stuff.

Consider the idea of getting to know some part of your current employer's systems well enough to be the expert on it. That could make you more of an analyst or architect to some degree as you know how everything ties together. This is more of a strategy than knowing something specific but it may be useful for you to know this.

Interpersonal skills would be an area where I think most could use some work, myself included. You could study various psychology aspects of people including personality types and social styles for something a bit deeper here.

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From experience in trying to do exactly this, skills aren't so much important as finding a company that will let you perform the role and not just be a developer who also does some systems analyst stuff. Most companies seem to just roll up "systems analyst" with developer and expect you to do both!

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Business Analysis and System Analysis are two different jobs, hence the skills are different. Make sure you are aware of which one you want first. The answer above by Bill Leaper applies to both jobs. In addition:

Common skills:

  • Understand front end tools such as MS-Word and Excel, very well.

  • Understand requirements gathering concepts very well.

  • Be ready to face people and present your opinion with or without tools.

Business Analysis:

  • Build good understanding in Use Case documentation and related tools

  • If possible understand the business domain well (Accounting, etc.) including standards and regulations involved

  • Get to know standards such as BPMN 2.0 and Process Modeling and design

  • Consider certification along the way (see references)

  • Be good at reporting tools using SQL, OLAP tools

  • If you can, get to know basic statistics

Here is a typical set of requirements from an a job advertisment:

  • Strong analytical, problem-solving, communication and interpersonal skills with attention to detail.
  • Strong organizational and documentation skills.
  • Ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Ability and enthusiasm to learn quickly.
  • Self-motivated, high-energy, independent worker and strong team member.
  • Focus on problem resolution rather than just problem identification.
  • Creativity is required.
  • Experience with current office tools for project planning, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email required.
  • Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Engineering, Business Administration, Science, Economics, Mathematics or similar -field of study.
  • Some technical background ideally involving at least mastery of SQL with one or more RDB platforms while not required would certainly be an asset.

Other References:

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