As the business world has grown more interconnected, companies across industry lines have had to continuously optimize their internal processes to remain competitive in the global marketplace. At any given time, organizations can have dozens of inefficient business operations that may lead to wasted spending, productivity losses and missed sales opportunities. In fact, research from the software firm Panopto found that large U.S. businesses (those with around 5,000 employees) lose an average of $12 million every year because of day-to-day inefficiencies. An organization’s ability to locate and resolve these operational flaws can have a major impact on their overall profitability, which is why business process analysts are in high demand. But what, exactly do business process analysts do, and how can aspiring professionals build a career in this specialized field?
What is a business process analyst?
Business process analysts fill a variety of roles within modern for-profit companies, but their primary goal is to assess business requirements and make evidence-based recommendations to support process improvements. They also serve as intermediaries between executive decision-makers, management teams and IT professionals to keep track of business performance, conduct process mapping and identify internal inefficiencies. According to the International Institute of Business Analysis, professionals in this role specialize in “bringing change to organizations through the analysis, design and implementation of business processes,” particularly when new policies and procedures are introduced. Business process analyst job descriptions typically include the following responsibilities:
- Evaluate employee needs, internal workflows and business processes
- Oversee detailed business analysis and process reengineering projects
- Collaborate with business and IT leaders to create new process designs
- Interpret complex data and business metrics for relevant stakeholders
- Document business process modeling activities for future reference
As technology continues to transform modern business environments, companies are having to onboard more professionals who understand digital applications and virtual workflows. This need places business process analysts at the intersection of organizational planning and information technology. To be successful in this role, individuals must have at least some experience with business IT and a deep knowledge of process management during tech rollouts. Implementing applications and software often creates new operational challenges that must be accounted for – business process analysts may be responsible for identifying these barriers and locating process-based solutions that can mitigate unplanned downtime, eliminate productivity losses and maximize IT spending.
Business process analyst career paths
Pursuing a business process analyst role typically requires students and mid-career professionals to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and experience in real-world contexts. Generally speaking, individuals in this profession start off by earning a bachelor’s in business management, or another relevant business degree. After graduating, some students immediately seek out entry-level positions, while others move onto advanced business programs. For example, obtaining a Master of Science in Business Analytics can provide the business acumen, process knowledge and IT expertise applicants need to stand out to potential employers. While there isn’t a set career roadmap for becoming a business process analyst, most companies prioritize candidates with years of experience and specific business-related competencies. According to the Chartered Institute for IT, business process analyst roles usually call for the following skill sets:
- Technical skills: Since business process analysts play a key role in their organizations’ overall IT strategy and internal development, they must be able to evaluate which applications are available and how they can enhance existing business operations. For example, cloud computing has become a dominant trend for both large enterprises and small businesses, but the overwhelming number of vendors can make it difficult to locate the perfect fit. Using their process management expertise and technical know-how, business process analysts work with decision-makers to locate IT solutions that align with their company’s budgetary constraints and long-term goals.
- Research experience: Before business process analysts can develop new operational strategies, they must first understand the exact problems they’re trying to solve. In most cases, there are multiple solutions for every challenge a business may face, which is why professionals in this role conduct in-depth research into business performance before making any recommendations. Keeping track of trends within their respective industry is also crucial, as new process mapping tools and techniques are constantly being released.
- Interpersonal abilities: Over the course of their careers, business process analysts will work with individuals from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. As such, they must be able to form productive relationships with a wide range of people, many of whom may have very different opinions about process management and business optimization. Interdepartmental collaboration is a core part of this profession, so it’s important to hone interpersonal abilities and practice active listening skills before stepping into the role.
- Communication skills: While similar to interpersonal competencies, communication skills are more about tailoring information to better meet the needs of individual stakeholders. For example, business process analysts might prioritize the technical aspects of a new IT deployment when speaking with system administrators, but focus on costs and process improvements when pitching their solutions to C-suite executives. Ultimately, business process analysts must be able to interpret and explain performance data and other business metrics for a variety of different audiences.
Business process analyst salary and job outlook
As a profession, business process analysts are in high demand thanks to the acceleration of digital transformation and the need for new global partnerships. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of business process analysts – categorized as “management analysts – is expected to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations. These projections fall in line with research from IBM, which found that the number of business analyst job openings in the U.S. will likely grow from 364,000 to 2,720,000 by the end of 2020. In terms of salary, business process analysts earned a median annual wage of $85,260 in May 2019, according to the BLS, with the highest 10% taking home more than $154,310.
Launch your business process analyst career with an MSBA from the University of Nevada, Reno
Whether you’re an aspiring business student or an established professional, online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the University of Nevada, Reno can help you develop the knowledge, skills and experience you need to become a successful business process analyst. This 30-credit-hour MSBA degree focuses on both the fundamentals of data science and specialized learning areas within the field of business analysis. Students learn how organizations use big data to drive smarter IT and managerial decisions, leverage business metrics to improve performance and conduct detailed process modeling to ensure maximum efficiency.