Historically, a Business Analyst is someone who analyses the organisation and design of businesses, government departments, and non-profit organizations; BAs also assess business models and their integration with technology.
The role of the Business Analyst has evolved from someone who was a part of the business operation and worked with Information Technology to improve the quality of the products and services being delivered by the IT organization to someone who apart from gathering business requirements, also assists in Integration and Acceptance Testing, supports the development of training and implementation material, participates in the implementation, and provides post-implementation support. Business Analysts today are also involved in the development of project plans and often provide project management skills when these skills are not available in other project participants.
There is no defined way to become a Business Analyst. Often the BA has a technical background, whether having worked as a programmer or engineer, or completing a Computer Science degree. Others may move into a BA role from a business role – their status as a subject matter expert and their analytical skills make them suitable for the role. Business analysts may overlap into roles such as project manager or consultant. When focused on specific systems, the term Business Systems Analyst may be used.