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Uncovering Success: Top 8 Skills for Business Operations Analysts
Operational agility is a driving factor of growth. Furthermore, a 2022 Insight-Driven Organization Survey by Deloitte also states that at least 46% of companies recognized the need for data-driven operational insights as their main development strategy. However, more often than not, companies fail to utilize their highest production potential due to several factors. This is where the seminal role of a business operations analyst comes into play. Specifically, they ensure businesses meet their goals through data-driven solutions such as adjusting current company policies, reshaping logistics, and streamlining operations. So, if you enjoy handling data and investigative work, you will find this job very rewarding. Without further ado, let’s take a look at all the essential hard and soft skills required to top the role of an operations analyst.
Who is a Business Operations Analyst?
To better understand the role of a business operations analyst, it is crucial to know what the role entails. Such analysts are involved in investigating company workflows and assessing production efficiency. Their final goal is to improve productivity and initiate a cycle of continuous data-driven improvement within the business processes. In other words, operations analysts dissect and strategize how a business operates by working with real-time data on the meticulous aspects of business operations. It is important to note that data is the core of operational policy-making and C-level decision-making.
Skills Required to be a Business Operations Analyst
In this climate of automation-induced uncertainty, the first cornerstone of business intelligence is maximizing business outcomes by adapting the IT infrastructure to changing trends. This highlights the importance of business analysis as a separate skill. Specifically, a business operations analyst absorbs all organizational information from the available data, statistical analysis, and consumer experience reports to make business processes more efficient. However, the portfolios of operations analysts and business analysts often overlap. Therefore, both roles require you to:
- Oversee all company operations and policies, and suggest recommendations for improvement
- Provide appropriate modeling techniques to analyze company-specific data
- Collaborate with other departments to enforce cost-effective policies at all organizational levels
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Moreover, with the massive venture capital funding pouring into the fintech industry during the first financial quarter of 2021, which amounted to $12,822 million, the demand for operations analysts is expected to skyrocket. Consequently, the need for data-driven financial analysis is becoming more crucial than ever as fintech continues to expand with disruptive technologies. As such, operations analysts must possess a wide range of financial analysis skills, such as:
- Understanding the actuarial risks of deals and price-specific insurance policies
- Forecasting growth and risk by proper completion of operating plans in advance
- Meticulous reading of financial statements such as balance statements, cash flow statements, income statements, etc
- Strong understanding of ratio analysis
A business operations analyst serves as the main point of contact among the different departments of production. Therefore, a typical day of managing operations entails the following:
- Managing the different methods of statistical analysis and mathematical models, and relaying relevant information to team leaders and project managers
- Streamlining revenue and cost assumptions
- Providing the higher authorities with weekly and monthly economic impact reports of key business decisions
- Providing detailed reports on the efficacy of marketing programs
- Understanding the reporting tools to drive branch profitability of business units
Furthermore, the ability to visualize data and form realistic narratives is critical for business operations analysts, as it enables them to communicate insights to stakeholders effectively. This is a significant skill, as it helps businesses to:
- Propose alternatives to prevalent business solutions by understanding their impacts
- Recommend changes in operations by visually mapping monthly progress across different departments
- Break down technical information into easily digestible language for nontechnical personnel
- Visualize the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) against actual long-term business objectives
Programming and Software Knowledge
Furthermore, it is important to note that business operations analysts must have a wide range of skills and tools at their disposal beyond just data expertise. Apart from a deep understanding of programming languages like C++, Python, and R, they must also be knowledgeable about the latest productivity and project management tools. With that said, here is a comprehensive list of the tools that operations analysts use daily:
- Python and R: These map and optimize company processes
- MySQL: Helps manage and modify relational databases
- Tableau: Used for data visualization purposes
- MS Office Suite: Enhance productivity and make the most of MS Excel
- Trello, GanttPro, etc: These project management and productivity tools help keep track of projects that are running simultaneously
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When it comes to soft skills, operations analysts work with the three golden C’s: communication, critical thinking, and collaboration.
To correctly implement or execute solutions, it is also important to foster symbiotic relationships among team members. As the daily responsibilities of checking the entire operations’ efficiency fall on the analyst, developing communications skills help them in the following ways:
- Nurturing cross-departmental synergy increases overall productivity
- Communicating with executive management to align daily operations with company goals
- Also communicating with data analysts to gain a better grasp of data stories
- Keeping everyone updated with the latest industry trends
The sum of rational reasoning and contemplative thinking is “critical thinking”. To come up with decisions that lead to desired outcomes, we must effectively weigh the pros and cons of every decision. Moreover, being critical enables a business operations analyst to filter high-priority needs that generate more value in the production processes.
The typical workday of analysts starts with meetings and presentations about recommendations on how to improve routine activities. Apart from that, analysts deal with different organizational levels, furnishing varied tasks such as budget reporting, warehouse operations, client invoicing, market research, product development, etc. This, therefore, necessitates great collaborative skills to streamline all production activities.
Career Outlook and Salary of a Business Operations Analyst
According to a 2023 report by Salary.com, the average annual business operations analyst salary in the U.S. is $65,292. Another report by Zippia has projected a 14% increase in demand for operations analysts across the country till 2028. Since it is company data that informs all IT and data activities, resource management, client reporting, etc, operations analysts are required to maximize the potential of human-AI synergy across industries. It’s a fact that business operations analysts are adept at managing a variety of senior managerial positions. This also allows for some alternate career paths they can explore, such as:
- Financial analysts
- Senior financial analysts
- Business analysts
- Human resource managers
- Vice president of operations
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FAQs About Business Operations Analysts
1. How to Prepare for a Career as a Business Operations Analyst?
Most operations analysts require a strong technical background in data analysis. Additionally, the upper end of the field requires a master’s degree in a similar field. Apart from technical knowledge, candidates must also groom soft skills of business acumen and interpersonal communication.
2. What are the Most Essential Skills for Business Operations Analysts?
Here is a mix of hard and soft skills necessary for business operations analysts:
- Domain expertise involving data science, Business Intelligence (BI), market analytics, and company-specific information
- Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite—Word, Excel, PowerPoint
- Knowledge of Power BI
- Data visualization in Tableau
- Critical thinking
3. How to Leverage Data Analysis to Drive Operational Excellence?
A combination of different analytical processes allows you to drive operational excellence by highlighting realistic growth indicators in the operations. These include:
- Improving overall supply chain performance
- Measuring the effectiveness of individual departments
- Identifying leading indicators by comparing historical data
- Managing residual risk from individual inefficiencies or resistance to change management
4. What are the Biggest Challenges Faced by Business Operations Analysts, and How to Overcome Them?
Some of the challenges faced by operations analysts are:
- Communication issues among employees
- Sustainability of business practices
- Environmental compliance of business practices
- Ethical Conduct in the Workplace
- Workforce productivity
For such kinds of challenges, analysts can do the following: incorporate advanced planning software systems, have a strong, unbiased understanding of company needs, and carry out regular communication with all levels of the hierarchy.
5. What is the Future of Business Operations Analysis and How to Stay Ahead of the Curve?
A BLS report states that operations analysts will witness a rise in demand of up to 23% between 2021 and 2031. To stay ahead of the curve, you take advantage of Emeritus’ best data science courses while brushing up your soft skills in communication, empathy, and leadership.
How to Become a Business Operations Analyst with Emeritus?
One should ideally start with building a strong foundation of data analysis skills by studying information analytics, business analytics, statistics, business administration, finance, or fintech. Secondly, join an online professional course as it successfully conveys your seriousness regarding the field to your potential employers. Industry-accredited courses don’t just talk about the latest tech developments; they also equip you with the necessary software systems to keep track of all business processes. Lastly, look for institutes that offer diverse technical courses within the same discipline. For example, Emeritus’ courses on digital marketing teach the importance of data-driven market analytics too. Therefore, one way to stay ahead of the curve is by exploring the data science courses offered. Such programs help streamline your knowledge across a variety of domains, including business analytics, automation, etc.
By Bishwadeep Mitra
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