A business analyst has to be prepared and trained in office productivity applications, so he or she can document and track requirements.
These types of applications generally fall into three categories:
- Word processing
- Presentation software
Microsoft Office covers all of these office applications, but open source software like Open Office is free alternative. The one downside to Open Office is you may have formatting or compatibility errors when sharing files to and from Microsoft Office. Most organizations and businesses have access to Office, but independent business analysts will have to buy it themselves (if you buy Office yourself, don’t forget it’s a business expense for tax-filing purposes).
Knowledge of developing and maintaining requirements in a document is an absolute must for a business analyst. With word processing software, you have a lot of control with the formatting and presentation of a document. There are many templates available for word processors, so you can get business analysts related outlines for your work.
Business analysts use spreadsheets to maintain lists for things like atomic requirements, features, actions, issues, or defects. With spreadsheets, a business analyst can easily capture and manipulate numbers and data. Another use for a spreadsheet is to support decision analysis and summarize complex scenarios.
Business analysts commonly use presentation software such as PowerPoint or online presentation programs like GoToWebinar. These presentation tools allow business analysts to introduce topics for discussion among stakeholders. Another use of presentation software is to display and communicate information, like user stories.
Additional Tools and Information
There are dozens of more tools you need to prepare yourself to use as a business analyst. Here are some of the categories of tools you will use as a BA – and some examples.
- Email – Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo.
- Instant messaging – Google Hangouts or text messaging.
- File sharing services – Dropbox or Google Drive
- Time tracking tools – TimeTrade or Teamwork
- Video messaging – Skype or Hangouts
As businesses globalize, analysts have to prepare themselves to work with people in other time zones. One tool to help you keep track of time zones is an online free website called World Time Buddy. I recommend this free tool for monitoring clients and conversations with people in multiple time zones.
Perfecting your skills with office tools is just one of the many things you must do as a business analyst. You can buy a carpenter a nice set of tools, but tools alone won’t build the home.
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