Top 5 skills for Business Analysts in 2021


Remote working is the new norm and as Business Analysts we have had to adjust to this new way of working. As we start 2021, its important for Business Analysts to sharpen the skills that will help them be most effective in this new way of working. In this article, our Lead Trainer / Coach outlines the 5 top skills for Business Analysts for 2021.

  1. Visual modelling skills

As we are spending most of our times on virtual channels, this skill has become increasingly important for Business Analysts to have. Visual models give stakeholders something to see and visualize and it enhances the discussion in meetings. You may have heard of the old age saying – ‘pictures speak a thousand words’ – using the right visual models will enable Business Analysts to clearly articulate requirements and ensure all stakeholders are on the same page. This is true especially for difficult or complex concepts that need to be broken down and explained. Our Business Analysis toolbox is full of modelling techniques that BAs can use and visually represent requirements or concepts. Examples of visual aids Business Analysts can use – process flow diagrams, context diagrams, story boards, functional decomposition, mind maps etc.

  1. Stakeholder relationship management

As Business Analysts we work with stakeholders helping solve business problems, mine opportunities and meet business needs. Stakeholders are critical for success in our projects and it is therefore important to have sound stakeholder relationships. You may have heard of the old age saying – ‘out of sight, out of mind’  which is applicable in this new way of working as now we only see stakeholders in meetings. Business Analysts therefore need to be proactive in scheduling regular touchpoints with key stakeholders to understand any new initiatives and also to give updates on projects. As BAs we need to be top of mind when stakeholders encounter business problems or want to implement new initiatives. Stakeholder management is therefore an important skill to sharpen in 2021.

  1. Communication skills

Communication remains key to Business Analysts. Prior to the pandemic, face to face communication already had its own challenges and now adding in a virtual element presents an additional layer of complexity. To bridge this additional layer of complexity, I present a few tips below that Business Analysts can do to enhance communication virtually:

  • Give stakeholders enough context and enough time to prepare for meetings
  • Agendas for meetings should be well laid out in advance
  • Set household rules for virtual meetings
  • Make use of the virtual parking board in meetings


  1. Adaptability

As Business Analysts we need to be flexible especially in this new way of working. We need to diversify our toolbox and this new world of working requires us to step out of our comfort zones. This means adopting new tools and techniques that will enable us to communicate more effectively with our stakeholders and get more engagement. Adaptability was rated as the fourth most important skill companies need most in 2020 by LinkedIn Learning and I feel this trend will continue in 2021. Adaptability requires a growth mindset and a continuous improvement mindset. Open yourself to learning new online tools that can help you maximize your requirements gathering sessions online.


  1. Self management

Self-management skills enable Business Analysts to proactively manage their work and ensure they are delivering on commitments. Self management is the ability to work independently, set key milestones in your work and actively work to reach these milestones. It also includes organizing your work and prioritizing your work to ensure you are working on the right things first. Finally, it includes taking accountability of the work and ensuring you are reliable with stakeholders. Business Analysts need to ensure they are self managing especially in a remote environment.


All the best for 2021!


Yours in analysis


BA Instructor / Coach!

Leave a comment