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Systems Analyst vs. Business Analyst

By terrence_brooks ·
Can someone clarify the differences between a Systems Analyst and a Business Analyst? I know Business Analyst is a relatively new position within IT. I was wondering where it sits on the food chain and the type of knowledge, skills and abilities needed for the job?

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Having done both

by JamesRL In reply to Systems Analyst vs. Busin ...

Good way to differentiate the two is what processes they work with.

A business analyst works with business processes/flows, typically independant of technology. While a business analyst cares about inputs to a application, and outputs from an application, they are thinking at a higher level which includes automated steps as well as manual steps in a process. They aren't as concerned with the internals of an application - as long as they get the required result. They should treat a computer as a black box. They are spend more time focussed on the people side of the equasion.

The business analyst typcially does their work in the project definition/requirements phase. They might model the old process, look at the high level requirements and create a new process.

To be a business analyst you need broad exposure to various aspects of a business. You need interviewing skills - as you discover that to do your job you need to document things that aren't documented. You need to understand IT at a high level - but not down to the systems level.

A systems analyst on the other hand, is more concerned with what is going on within that black box. They need to be able to document how data goes from one system to another, what transformations data undergoes at what stage, what the relationships between database elements are and so on.

The systems analyst needs a high level understanding of programming and a deeper understanding of data flows, data structures, and communications between systems.

Hope that helps.

James Linn

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Good answer, but...

by hlipson In reply to Having done both

James,
Your answer to tbrooks question was one of the clearest that I have seen, and functionally correct. However, if one is searching for a job, it gets a bit more confusing.

The position of business/systems analyst often comes down to corporate culture, making the job search very frustrating.

The major role of the analyst, whether business or systems, is functionally a liason between the tech and the business communities - often acting as interpreter between two distinct dialects of the language.

Organizations often use the terms interchangeably, many times including programming and management tasks into the position. Other companies use the titles of Process Analyst, Reengineering (or BPR) Specialist, etc. to define the same role.

If the purpose of the original question was to refine job searches (and I don't know that it was), my suggestion is to search on all of the possible titles and check each hit. You have to scan each job description to determine what the employer is really looking for. Remember that quite often, the individual writing the job description does not really know what the job entails.

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combined title Business Systems Analyst

by Flash77 In reply to Systems Analyst vs. Busin ...

I've bee into that kind of work for 5 years (2 companies) and I carried the title Business Systems Analyst. It bridges the functions on the 2 titles. It's true that the real work was to liaise between IT and Business. Also, the main role is to write a project definition plan stating the requirements, scope, risks, assumptions, cost-benefit, estimate the resource and work, and a lot more. This will be for the business sponsor to approve since they will pay for the development of a certain IT project.

By combining the title, it also comes to a point where we have to dig a little detail on the technical side.

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Systems Analyst vs Business Analyst

by NeoZeke In reply to combined title Business S ...

Might be late but here's some interesting info for you:

http://www.agilemodeling.com/essays/agileAnalysis.htm

Many organizations have an IT role called analyst, and will often differentiate between various types:

Requirements analysts who are responsible for requirements elicitation
Systems analysts who are responsible for analyzing the requirements to determine the system needs to fulfill those requirements
Business analysts who are responsible for understanding the business and making recommendations for improvement
Business system analysts whose responsibilities are a combination of those of a requirements analyst, business analyst, and a system analyst.

Business Analysts: Bridge or Barrier?
Home Section: www.sdmagazine.com/newsletters/agile
Many organizations have an IT role called business analyst, sometimes called system analyst or simply just "analyst." No matter what they're called, these professionals serve as bridges between the development staff and your project stakeholders. Business analysts work with project stakeholders to identify, document and validate requirements. They may also help to scope the system, identify potential areas of automation and reengineer the underlying business process. Business analysts work with developers to translate those requirements into something that they understand, and then translate developers' subsequent questions into something the stakeholders can understand--thus, the cycle continues.

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knowledge based expertise

by coyne_n In reply to Systems Analyst vs. Busin ...

The busness analyst is not a new concept at least at CHASE. Strong business expertise on related product development is required, which actually means having serious experience working on the business side. A strong understanding of all product aspect including legal issues guides the systems analyst in development. The business analyst is also aware of market trents, new regulations etc that can affect flexibility of development.

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