A business analyst is a versatile fighter for working with market and data analysis, financial planning, and business modeling. With such multitasking, besides high-quality work, speed is also important, and here proven tools and services come to the rescue.
Here is a selection of tools for analysis, structuring, information visualization, and project management.
The tool is as popular as the most frequently played roulette games online. It’s used for basic calculations and working with tables and charts.
The first thing you need to learn is how to use the SUM and RATING functions, as well as summary tables, filters, and charts.
It also has other features:
- The Remove Duplicates, Text by Column, Find and Replace functions will help you clean up and process an array of data and bring it to the right look.
- Summary Chart, Conditional Formatting, Data Validation, and Sparklines (charts embedded in an Excel cell) – provide flexibility when creating reports or financial and mathematical models.
- Ctrl+F/H, Ctrl + Shift + →/←, Ctrl + PgDn / PgUp and other hotkeys will save your time.
- Power Query and Power Pivot add-ins will help you connect the data from the database directly into Excel (the principle is similar to BI).
- A noteworthy add-on is VBA, which helps to write macros to automate actions in Excel. However, nowadays, very few people use it. Examples of use: running a sequence of calculations to update the model, collecting data from several files, and unloading data from the site with subsequent processing in the model. Recently, similar tasks can be solved using R, Python, or programs that help parse data or set up integration without using code.
Other Excel functions and features are worth dealing with as needed.
Google tables, Airtable, and tables in Notion can be used instead of Excel. The difference is the interface, number of features, and integration with online services.
Examples of tasks that Excel helps solve:
- Financial modeling and budgeting.
- Analysis of sales funnels or leads.
- Collecting data and structuring customer and market information.
PowerPoint or Keynote
Presentations are part of an analyst’s basic toolbox. It isn’t enough to just understand the program – you need to learn how to make quality presentations.
The first thing to pay attention to is the structuring of the presentation, the composition of the information on the slide, and the selection of colors, pictures, and icons. Video and courses from presentation development studios Esprezo, Metforms, and Presium can help you in mastering the program.
Examples of tasks where a presentation will be needed:
- Structuring information for project discussions.
- Less often for prototyping or other graphical tasks.
Asana, Basecamp, Jira, Trello, and Other Task Trackers
Trackers help set and synchronize tasks, track deadlines, and store documents and project correspondence. It’s not the tool itself that matters but how you use it.
If you study project management practices and learn how to work with Asana or Jira, you can master any task tracker.
Examples of tasks for a task tracker:
- Generating plans for weekly sprints.
- Creating a list of tasks for consulting projects.
- Documentation storage.
Tools for Working With SQL
SQL is a structured query language for working with databases. Excel has limitations on the number of rows + it can’t handle a large number of operations at a high enough speed. SQL as a tool is more powerful and flexible.
Knowledge of SQL is often specified in the requirements for analysts in technology companies, banks, startups, and large businesses in Russia and abroad.
Here are some programs that are easy to work with SQL queries:
- MySQL Workbench
Using SQL query, you can collect data from several databases in one unloading and filter the necessary values. For example, unload the sales volume of outerwear in stores in Moscow and the Moscow region for Q3 2019.
Python + Pandas
Python is a language with a wide range of applications. Pandas is a library for data processing and analysis. It allows you to count, process, and group data from different sources, make a summary table in the form of an offload and customize visualization.
With pandas, you can make reproducible reports that take data and build graphs and tables. This is instead of setting up integration with BI or offloading from SQL followed by processing in Excel or other programs.
Power BI, Tableau, QlikView
BI solutions are necessary for data analysis and visualization. The peculiarity of BI is the possibility of creating links to the database to automatically update tables and charts.
BI is often used to create dashboards that contain several charts and tables with key KPIs and important data. For example, financial indicators, sales funnel, and recruitment data.
Miro or Visio
Miro and Visio are handy programs for creating diagrams, organizational structures, and process descriptions.
Visio is widespread because it’s a part of Microsoft Office. Miro is flexible and fast online and has functionality for prototyping interfaces.
Miro is most often used to create process diagrams, draw infographics, and structure workflow notes.