How Self-Service BI Helps Business Analysts

Businessman and business woman in a discussion in an office

Companies depend on business analysts to improve efficiency and productivity in business processes and workflows. For most BAs, that involves activities like meeting with stakeholders to understand their needs, creating functional requirements, and designing system interfaces and workflows.

Business analysts use a variety of tools for this work, some developed specifically for the role, but also common software products like Excel, Word and PowerPoint. A self-service BI platform is another tool a business analyst can use to perform analysis. In fact, it’s a great starting point. For example, you can use analytics to identify and track relevant KPIs. You can develop reports to help you spot trends and opportunities for optimization.

A recent chat with Angela Wick (@WickAng), founder and CEO of BA-Squared, offers insight into how a BA can use business intelligence to be more effective.

“When I think of BI and the BA role, I think of BAs using data analytics to understand the context of the business landscape, the requirements, and assumptions on usage and volumes,” said Wick, who trains, coaches and consults on BA topics.

One example she gave was how a stakeholder may say “all customers who buy x product are having y happen to them.” By using a business intelligence platform, however, a business analyst can look at the data, and see that that is actually a subset. The stakeholder assumes they have all the data, but they are missing the context for it.

“I also think about using data to better understand customer behavior and customer journeys,” said Wick. In an article in BA Times, she describes ways that BAs can use business intelligence insights to be more effective. For example, querying data can help you find patterns that will help you set project goals. You can use data visualizations to highlight key requirements in a way that resonates with stakeholders.

Developer scarcity means that IT teams often struggle under the burden of more deliverables and shorter time frames. Self-service BI solutions that allow users to create their own reports and dashboards are one remedy. But modern business intelligence platforms can also expand the role of the BA in an organization.

For example, the Administrative UI that is part of our 7 Series platform enables a BA to perform functions that in the past would have required coding. This includes setting up user roles, modeling data, and creating calculated fields for specific use cases. A business analyst can take control over the administration and onboarding of new tenants. S/he can also create reports off of reporting metadata – things like report usage and rendering times – to help optimize analytics and suggest improvements.

One takeaway from Angela Wick’s post is that BAs have to challenge themselves to find new ways to gather requirements and identify opportunities for improvement. A business intelligence platform is a great place to start on this journey.

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