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Monday, May 20, 2002

Analyse business and help financial institutes
Sumesh Raizada

NOWADAYS almost every commercial and financial activity is regulated and controlled by computer-based solutions, whether in banks, financial institutions, trading or manufacturing organisations. Earlier, huge ledgers and lengthy accounting procedures were used to maintain records in business activities. They not only consumed time but also had chances of error. Since, decision making is mostly based on figures related to raw materials, finished products, despatches, sales and debtors, it is therefore extremely important to generate accurate data within the shortest possible time. Computers are therefore being widely used in almost all trade and commerce-related activities to enable timely and accurate business decisions. The professionals who develop and manage software systems and procedures for business applications are referred to as business analysts.

Business analysts participate in developing the business application by defining program specifications, coding, documentation and resolving various issues and problems. They must possess sufficient technical expertise and leadership skills to support the development and deployment of business applications in an organisation. Firms like Microsoft, Oracle, Cognos, Brio, etc. provide support on technologies and solutions required for business solutions. An individual should be familiar with all technical and business aspects of the data warehousing project and must have a strong understanding of database design, ETL tools preferably MS SQL Server DTS or Informatica. A person should also have an experience in Oracle or MS SQL Server, Business Intelligence tools like BRIO, COGNOS, etc.


Business analyst at senior positions primarily performs analysis of business systems in an enterprise. They act as an interface between senior management of the company, customers, suppliers, users and the IT systems development team. They should have excellent presentation skills and needs to have expertise in written and verbal communication. They manage communication between different departments and maintain regular contact with the user group regarding project status, resolution of pending issues, planning, research, analysis, support and maintenance of systems. A person going in for this position must have project management background, expertise in development tools, experience in data warehouse and database management. The desirable qualifications for the position are MCA, MBA or graduation in commerce, economics, etc. with additional certification in computer programming, system analysis, etc.

These analysts are mostly employed by software and consulting firms where they take up project for design, development and implementation of business solutions for the clients. They also work with the client organisations for the maintenance and regular upgradation of the business systems and procedures. Various banks, financial institutions, trading organisations also employ these professionals for developing and implementing software or hardware solutions specific to their business operations.

A business systems analyst operates as an interface between software developers, management and functional departments in an organisation. The position requires interviews and meetings with users, analysing and documenting their requirements, developing and maintaining accurate and effective documentation of software products for development. The work also includes development of software specifications and client-related documentation such as feature lists, process training, etc. These professionals work with the technical team to ensure that the delivered system meets the functional requirement of the client with respect to information system services and products.

Those opting for this position must be detail-oriented and able to handle responsibilities and projects independently. They must be able to adapt according to rapidly changing environment and new technologies. They are also required to develop and maintain a thorough understanding of the product functionality; create documentation using UML and other notations; continuously identify and document possible product enhancements; Create and enforce standards according to industry norms.

Business analysts develop and maintain effective customer service skills for both internal as well as external customers. The IT skills required for these professionals are proficiency in MS Office, Visio, PhotoShop, Windows operating systems. They must possess strong software development methodology skills, experience in gathering, analysis and documentation of user requirement, presentation and training skills including PowerPoint. They should also be familiar with the development and implementation of multiple technologies including HTML, ASP, Oracle portals and Java.

In e-commerce related firms, business analysts are required to possess experience in database management and data warehousing, B2C or B2B transactions, business process analysis, etc. They should have sufficient exposure to tools like Oracle 11i. The task includes gathering requirements and user acceptance criteria.

Financial business systems analyst working with financial organisations must have experience in pricing, NAV calculation, fund structures, mutual fund processing applications, oo design and analysis, distributed data modelling, etc.

In India, business analysts are employed in various software and consultancy companies that take up projects for industries like IT, legal, manufacturing and marketing. In banking, insurance and financial services industry their task includes pre sales activities like project proposals, estimations, follow up with clients. The professionals opting in this area must be thorough in project management, coordination skills, pre-sales activities like proposals, tendering, business study, banking, insurance, consulting and financial services. Qualifications required for the position is preferably MBA with sufficient exposure to programming and database management, with few years of experience in relevant industry.

In consultancy firms, analyst work within a small team. They coordinate workshops and provide documentation on clients’ demands. In accounting firms, these professionals mainly work with Oracle financials and should have a business analysis background. In Internet companies, business analyst design, implement and support Web-based solutions to meet the user’s requirements. They provide functional support and guidance to business units, service providers and other users on the capabilities and employment of web related resources. Prior experience in content management and portals related project is essential for these professionals. Exposure to e-commerce and ERP application development environment, say PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP, etc. helps in succeeding in this industry.

Business analysts are employed in firms like Wipro, Orbit-e consulting, etc. where they develop business solutions for clients in India as well as abroad. The client organisations include BSE, Bharati, Mantraonline, GlaxoSmithKline, FedEx, Nokia, EverGreen and Mario. Professionals work on projects, conduct workshops and interviews to gather business requirements, perform business process mapping and gap analysis. They provide business inputs to the technical team during implementation. Engineering graduates, MCA or MBA are best suited for this job.