Top tools for successful business analysts

Mar 11th, 2019

In order to be a great business analyst (BA), knowledge of the business, understanding the technical aspects and a capability in the tools of the trade are all key to ensuring high-quality software is delivered on time and as per spec.

A complicated role, BAs within the ICT sector decode the client’s business requirements into carefully considered technical specifications that software engineers use to develop what the client is asking for.

Nosipho Rakoma of BBD, a BA at the leading software development firm, explains that “many of the clients I’ve worked with have their own preferred tools. The trick is to immerse yourself in the client’s operations and be flexible in your knowledge and approach of the tools BAs can use”. She adds that although BBD favours an Agile mindset, project teams are encouraged to work in a manner and with the tools that are most suited to each client environment.

Here is a list of the top five tools BBD BAs love to use:

1. Jira and Confluence

Jira and Confluence form part of the Atlassian stack and are powerful collaboration software programs that allow for an open and shared work space that helps you manage the details within a project without losing sight of the big picture.  They also enable you to create a single source of truth for your software documentation, while helping ensure easy communication between BAs, test analysts and the software engineers.

Although originally designed for Agile development teams, this update-as-you-go software is useful for BAs no matter their team’s methodologies or mindset. Rakoma believes that with the world looking to Agile, aspiring and experienced BAs need to be comfortable with these types of tools.

2. Microsoft Visio

As diagrams depicting project dependencies and schedules are an important element in a BA’s project manager or scrum master role, the Microsoft Visio diagramming tool is excellent for remaining on top of all of the moving parts within a project.

For everything from workflows to process maps and network diagrams, this powerful visualisation tool helps display and drill into the project elements. This is beneficial for BAs because it helps maintain a clear overall picture, and aids in easier execution and communication with both technical and non-technical team members.

As part of Microsoft Office, Visio shares functionality with Excel, Access and Word.

3. Enterprise Architect (EA)  

EA is a full cycle online modelling tool with built-in requirement management capabilities. Made for business and IT systems, it allows real-time, embedded development and the all-important version control. The beauty of this tool is that for distributed teams, where not every member sits in the same office, managing tasks, responsibilities and dependencies doesn’t become an issue.

4. HP QC

The HP Quality Center is quality management software boasting requirement and test management, and business process testing for IT environments. HP QC is a component of the HP application lifecycle management software solution set and is good for day-to-day tasks. Although face-to-face time is important in development teams, some BAs find this tool especially helpful because it can often help save time so that your meetings are only about what’s most necessary (you know, for all those times the meeting could have been an email).

5. Video conferencing

Because you don’t have to be in the same location to deliver, and often aren’t, video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Appear.In and Rocket.Chat can be exceptionally helpful for project delivery teams. Because BBD has a global footprint, with teams sitting in different countries, video conferencing makes daily stand-ups and team meetings that much easier. Additional tools worth a mention include Trello and Excel.

Rakoma concludes that change is hard, and changing your toolset is especially so. But there is truth to the adage that if you’re not changing then you’re not growing because growth in the ICT sector means more opportunities.