Systems analyst/business analyst
Systems analysts and business analysts bridge the technical divide between skilled and specialised ICT professionals and the less-technologically savvy clients who need their skills. When a business or organisation needs a system to manage information or processes, they often acquire the services of a systems analyst.
What the role involves
The analyst assesses and analyses the customers’ needs, creates an exact specification of what sort of application might be required and passes it on to a programmer, after which the analyst will guide the project from coding through testing and onto final implementation. A business analyst’s work is generally like that of a systems analyst, but the focus is on processes and activities within the business environment (business analysts will often have a background in business and IT, either through a combined degree or an add-on IT qualification). Both professions need to be fluent and comfortable with the technical and non-technical aspects of the job, cognisant of both the needs of technically less competent end-users and the expertise of the programmers. In recent years organisations have tended to employ systems analysts on a contract or consultancy basis, so increasingly professionals in the field are self-employed.
What skills and experience you will need
However, systems analysts need a few years’ experience under their belts before setting up independently. Many begin in more specialised roles, which equip them with the necessary technical background, before then deciding to move towards the arguably more sociable world of systems analysis. Indeed, systems analysis requires a lot more of the so-called ‘soft’ skills. Professionals in the field need to be expert communicators, skilled at evaluating their client’s needs and often called upon to work with employees whose very jobs are being turned around (or replaced) by the systems they’re charged with designing. Success as an analyst is very much dependent on an individual’s ability to interpret the needs of their clients, to communicate their requirements to the programmers, and to then see the whole project through to completion. A good systems or business analyst figures out what the job is, and then gets it done.