Functional Business Analyst Job Description
Functional business analysts help companies more effectively use software for specific purposes, such as monitoring finances or managing employees. They need strong analytical and critical thinking skills as well as in-depth technical knowledge so they can assess, install, and troubleshoot software systems. It’s an ideal job for anyone who likes working with people and who has strong interpersonal and leadership skills. This upper-level management position requires at least an undergraduate degree as well as both business and technological expertise.
Functional Business Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
No matter their specific industry or employer, most functional business analysts share several core responsibilities. Those duties include:
Analyze Existing Systems
Functional business analysts start by evaluating a company’s current software system and analyzing how well it meets the needs of that organization. They look at factors such as cost and efficiency, as well as ease of use, using standardized measurement processes such as metrics and performance indicators.
After they implement a new system, functional business analysts document all changes made and also write any supporting documentation needed to teach employees how to use the software.
Create Plans for Change
Once a functional business analyst has identified changes needed to a company’s software system, they then devise a plan to implement these changes. They use not only their technical knowledge but also their people skills, which allows them collaborate with all employees involved to identify the most effective way of implementing changes throughout the department or organization.
Before recommending any changes, functional business analysts test their suggestions to see how well they work. They use modeling software and practices to evaluate current systems and the effect of the new systems or practices they suggest.
Prepare the Organization for Change
Functional business analysts evaluate how ready an organization is to make change and guide it along the way to ensure a seamless transition. This often involves translating technical subjects or jargon into language that employees at every level of the company can understand.
Troubleshoot Software Systems
Since the functional business analyst is the one who designed and installed the system, companies often call on them to identify and remedy any problems that occur.
Functional Business Analyst Skills and Qualifications
Qualifications for a functional business analyst vary by employer, but the following are a few of the common skills necessary for success:
- IT knowledge – the primary role of a functional business analyst is evaluating a company’s current software and computer systems and determining what, if any, changes or improvements are needed. This requires in-depth knowledge of IT and computer science principles
- Analytical thinking – because they evaluate the effectiveness of processes and software systems, functional business analysts must know how to assess a company’s current system and identify areas of improvement. They use this same knowledge to evaluate how new systems work
- Critical and creative thinking – evaluating software systems and suggesting changes isn’t always straightforward, so analysts look at these systems from a big-picture perspective to see all of the available choices. This often requires coming up with solutions that are different from how things have always been done and that are unique or innovative
- Interpersonal skills – functional business analysts work closely with people at all levels of the organization. Since they collaborate with people from a wide range of backgrounds, strong verbal and written communication skills are crucial
- Leadership skills – as the driving force behind analysis and change, functional business analysts use their leadership skills and persuasiveness sell their ideas and encourage the company’s employees to cooperate with their suggestions and plan
Tools of the Trade
Functional business analysts use the following tools regularly:
- Computer software and systems
- Notation systems (Business Process Model and Notation or BPMN)
- Modeling systems (Unified Modeling Language, or UML, and similar tools)
- Word processing programs
Functional Business Analyst Education and Training
Functional business analysts need at least an undergraduate degree, preferably in a computer science or technology field, such as engineering. Some have business degrees with a focus on computer science, information technology, or a similar field. They also need experience analyzing systems and suggesting improvements. The specific experience required depends on what aspect of business they specialize in.
Because they focus on using a specific technology, functional business analysts draw on their expertise using that technology as well as their understanding of how the company plans to use it. For example, when analyzing software used for the company’s finances, the analyst must have significant experience both using the software and working in finance.
Functional Business Analyst Salary and Outlook
Functional business analysts, who fall under the category of computer systems analysts, earn a median annual salary of $88,270, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top 10 percent earn more than $139,850, and the bottom 10 percent earn less than $53,570 annually. The BLS predicts strong growth for the field, with employment opportunities increasing 9 percent by 2026, which is a similar growth rate as other occupations.
If you’re interested in learning more about working as a functional business analyst, check out the resources we’ve compiled below:
International Institute of Business Analysis – this professional association offers networking opportunities, training and education, and certification in business analysis. IIBA members can also join local chapters to meet and network with fellow business analysis professionals in their area
Modern Analyst – this online magazine offers articles and blog posts designed to help business analysts refine their skills. There’s also a forum to ask questions, network with other business analysts, and find job postings
The Business Analyst and Requirements in the Real World – aspiring business analysts can read this book to learn more about what to expect when they take their training to a formal business setting. Author Annette Santoro gives readers a glimpse into the real-world tasks of a business analyst
A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge – published by IIBA, this text is the internationally recognized guide to business analysis and is designed for both small- and large-scale analysis projects
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