What is a Business Systems Analyst?

Author profile photo for CareerFoundry blog writer Elliot Gun

What job titles come to mind when you think about roles in analytics?

Everyone knows about data scientists, data analysts, machine learning engineers, and data engineers as common career paths.

However, a career in data can take you in surprising directions, as there are many more roles that fly under the radar. We’ve previously explored roles such as big data engineer, healthcare data analyst, and operations analyst

Today, we’re demystifying the business systems analyst, a uniquely cross-functional position that plays a critical role in improving a company’s processes for better operational efficiency. We’ll answer all your questions about what exactly is business systems analysis, and share a guide on how to become one, including:

  1. What is systems analysis, and what does a business systems analyst do?
  2. How much can you earn as a business systems analyst?
  3. Business systems analyst job description examples
  4. How to become a business systems analyst
  5. Wrap-up

You can also use the clickable menu to skip ahead to any section. Well, let’s get started!

1. What is systems analysis, and what does a business systems analyst do?

Systems analysis might seem like an intimidating and abstract concept, but at its core, it’s really just a helpful problem-solving framework.

In the business world, this means making use of technology to create solutions to improve business operations and outcomes. It evolved from a need to correctly identify solutions for businesses with large and complex internal processes, or IT architectures, while also ensuring that any proposed solution is feasible and aligned to actually solve the identified problem. 

These problems can vary, but they generally fall under the scope of anything related to the company’s internal processes, which can be client-facing or not. These analysts work to improve operational efficiency, cut work duplication, strategise how processes can be streamlined to reduce cost and improve revenue, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to their sector. 

A business systems analyst plays a critical role in being the link between cross-functional teams (which often include business stakeholders, IT staff,  project managers, developers, solution architects, and user experience designers) to troubleshoot problems and jointly develop a solution. They typically work closely with the business team to understand the problem, define it, narrow its scope, and then specify the requirements for a solution.

Then, they meet with technical developers to architect a solution. They may also perform quality assurance (QA), an important step in software testing which ensures that the proposed solution meets predefined expectations.

Business systems analyst reading a work document

2. How much can you earn as a business systems analyst? 

Learning about whether a role is the right fit is incomplete without a discussion about the salary.

What can you expect to earn as a business systems analyst? While this is a hard question to answer without a full consideration of prior (and relevant) work experience, location, and seniority, we can still get a sense of what to expect from taking a look at job postings online. 

We browsed through dozens of postings to find that, as a business systems analyst is a specialized role that requires a technical skillset, you can expect to earn a fairly high salary right out of the gate. It generally starts at around $40 an hour as an entry-level analyst, or up to $75 an hour for more senior roles. 

The upper end of the pay bracket can vary greatly by industry too. For example, this “IT Business Systems Analyst” posting quotes an annual salary between $140,000 to $160,00 in San Francisco, likely because it’s in healthcare and requires that the candidate have strong domain experience in healthcare analytics.

There are different ways to get into this role than you might think. Just ask CareerFoundry graduate Brittany, who when we talked to her was using her new qualification in the Data Analytics Program to transition in her healthcare firm to the Business Intelligence department, seeking to use data for social good.

A typical posting for entry-level roles quotes between $80,000 to $120,000 a year, which often does not include additional benefits and hybrid or remote work opportunities. 

For a better understanding of salaries in the data field, check out our salary guides for data scientists and for different industries hiring data analysts.

3. Business systems analyst job description examples

As business systems analysis is a rather abstract concept, it might be helpful to take a closer look at two different example job descriptions to get a more concrete sense of what different types of business systems analysts actually do on a day to day basis. 

Data Business Systems Analyst

A data business systems analyst leads any process change that involves a data or analytics solution.

This includes using their knowledge of SQL to code queries for analysis, programming automated test creation, and conduct end user testing, otherwise known as user acceptance testing (UAT). They start by extracting and narrowing down any requirements that match the business goal, which can involve interviews with internal stakeholders to get an accurate sense of current business processes. 

Once they have created a plan, they work with technical teams to architect a solution, and remain actively involved through the development process by playing a key role in rigorously testing the solution for edge cases. They often bring strong experience in data analytics tools or frameworks and between 3-5 years of prior experience, with an average annual salary of $90,000 to $125,000. 

Senior Business Systems Analyst 

You can attain the senior business systems analyst title after about 7 to 10 years of prior work experience.

With this seniority comes greater responsibility: they partner with high-level stakeholders and domain specialists across all functions of the business to provide solutions to identified problems.

They do so by managing projects of fairly high complexity, interviewing end users to identify business requirements, and translating that into solutions. This can include anything from everyday process improvements to larger, and more systematic, policy changes.

As project managers, they often are in charge of maintaining documentation, testing, and providing regular reports to senior stakeholders on the progress of integrating the solution into the business. The average salary for senior business systems analysts is quite high, with many earning well over $150,000.

4. How to become a business systems analyst 

If this all sounds good so far, it may be time to brush off that resume and take a look at what you need when applying to job postings!

When it comes to applying to business systems analyst roles, you’ll likely achieve quick success in the field with a bachelor’s degree. As a business systems analyst is generally a more complex role, an advanced degree won’t hurt either. Employers favor candidates with bachelor’s degrees in computer science, information systems, business administration, or related fields.

Advanced degrees typically feature more specialized domain knowledge related to the industry you are applying to. For example, a business systems analyst in healthcare might also have a graduate degree in life sciences or biotechnology.

You may also find it useful to gain a certification in data analytics in order to master some of the tools used in the field.

As the role is technical at its core, evidence of strong informational technology skills, whether with hardware or software, is important. Some fundamentals include knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite (Excel, Word, PowerPoint). Employers also look for experience with a programming language, knowledge of popular enterprise tools such as Salesforce, Tableau, or Power BI.

Some want experience working with enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms or implementing content management systems like Adobe Experience Manager. Others are interested in expertise on managing commerce systems including Shopify Plus and Salesforce Commerce Cloud. 

5. Wrap-up

In the analytics world, lesser known titles like the business systems analyst often go under the radar, despite their great prospects and potential for career growth. In this post, we’ve demystified what the role entails, what systems thinking is, and the steps you can take to get your first job in it.

As the title can span many different technologies, it’s best to take a look at job postings on platforms like Indeed and Upwork to get a sense of how you can best tailor your resume to the specific requirements for this unique role.

Interested in learning more about analytics roles and the field of data analytics in general? Why not try out this free, self-paced data analytics course? You may also be interested in the following articles:

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