What are the most common expectations from a business analyst?

What are the most common, highest priority things that people expect from a business analyst?
Your bosses will surely have expectations about what a business analyst does, and the quality of the results. Fortunately, you'll be able to apply the core business analysis skills and procedures across organizations and projects. Chances are, whether you're new to the business, or an old hand, you'll be expected to excel in three distinct skills:
  • Your "bosses" will look for translation skills. They'll expect a business analyst to be able to translate business goals into specific objectives, and specific objectives into detailed needs. They'll also expect the business analyst to be able to elicit information from a variety of sources; to translate the information into meaningful understandings that are directly applicable to the project; and to articulate and/or document the information in such a way that those who need it will be able to understand it easily and accurately.
  • They'll look for analysis skills. They'll expect the business analyst to be able to get up to speed quickly on any given topic or situation. They'll expect you to ask probing questions and be able to identify patterns, trends, and gaps. They'll also expect you to be able to look at a process and quickly discern how it can be improved. And, finally, they'll expect you to be able to compare solutions options, and evaluate how well they meet a particular need.
  • They'll look for relationship skills. They'll expect a business analyst to be able to quickly build trust with the stakeholders, and to understand and adapt to the stakeholders' communication style, so as to gather information efficiently and recommend solutions persuasively. They'll expect the business analyst to understand the needs of the developers, quality assurance team, and project managers, and they'll expect you to build good working relationships with these people for the good of the project.

Of course, there's lots of other, practical stuff your bosses will expect you to know or have at your disposal, including tools, resources, and special skills. But, rest assured, you should be able to learn or acquire these as you go, and quickly fill any gaps in your "tool kit." This is assuming, of course, that you're fully up to speed with your superiors' expectations regarding translation, analysis, and relationships—the three areas where a business analyst's core expertise should lie.

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