The Business Systems Analyst: A Complex Problem Solver

A business systems analyst typically develops, applies or refines IT solutions to solve complex business problems — either internal or client-facing — and helps better position an organization to achieve its strategic goals.

Different from a systems analyst, a business systems analyst is focused primarily on determining how organizations can best capitalize on their IT resources.

"Business systems analyst is a hot skill set," says Chris Ferguson, vice president of Technology Staffing Services and Legal Strategic Accounts at the Robert Half Technology Recruiting Center. “Professionals with these abilities are in high demand, primarily because there are so many companies doing mobile applications and other outreach efforts.” These outreach efforts drive application development, and the business systems analysts typically guide the organization's development processes.

Business systems analyst salary on the rise in 2014

Skilled technology talent is in high demand in North America, and many employers are prepared to pay top talent well. According to Robert Half Technology’s 2014 Salary Guide, the starting business systems analyst salary in the United States is expected to increase 6.3 percent this year. Starting compensation is projected to range from $75,500 to $109,750. Similarly in Canada, a business systems analyst salary is projected to increase 6.4 percent. (You can use the Robert Half Technology Salary Calculator to find salary information specific to your city.)

Business systems analyst job description

What does it take to become a business systems analyst? Here are some key qualifications:

  • Solid understanding of business functional areas, business management issues and data analysis
  • Exceptional communication abilities
  • Leadership, initiative and advanced computer skills
  • Programming experience

A bachelor's degree and several years of computer applications and business experience are often required. More technically challenging positions involving complex business systems may require a master's degree with a concentration in information systems.

In terms of responsibility, a business systems analyst must analyze complex business problems and assess how to implement automated systems to solve them. These professionals are also typically expected to formulate and define the objectives and scope of business systems.

The business systems analyst position frequently consults with both stakeholders and end users, gathering and interpreting key data to formulate solutions that meet both the organization’s and users’ needs. Additionally, a business systems analyst may be expected to provide IT support for regulatory and compliance activities and make recommendations on hardware and software procurement to support business goals.

Getting started on the business systems analyst path

Most organizations require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and many prefer a focus on technical skills with some business experience. In some cases, an organization may require candidates to have a field-specific background, like healthcare, finance or telecommunications.

From a soft skills perspective, Ferguson notes a business systems analyst must demonstrate excellent interpersonal communication skills and have the ability to work well with others in both technology and business functions in the organization. A business systems analyst also likely will be expected to manage several projects simultaneously.

It also pays for a business system analyst to have a wide IT knowledge base, says Ferguson: "Being a student of various software development and life cycle management methodologies is important. Many of these technology professionals came into their roles by first serving as quality analysts, project managers or junior developers. These positions often provide some of the foundational skills needed to become a successful business systems analyst.”

Look to Robert Half Technology's Salary Guide for job descriptions and starting compensation for a wide range of technology jobs – including business systems analyst.