It’s no secret that to be successful and generate consistent profits, companies’ processes need to be as efficient as possible, especially in an extremely competitive market. Unfortunately, when a process becomes inefficient, you’ll need to analyze the problem in-depth, test several solutions, and then implement the one that’s the best fit. This is where operations analysts come in.
Today, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of the operations analyst role and explain how they make your business machine hum.
What Does an Operations Analyst Do?
First things first, let’s look at what an operations analyst does. At their core, operations analysts are problem solvers. However, they differ from data and other types of analysts based on the types of problems they aim to solve.
Typically, operations analysts research and analyze different types of operations to help companies make better decisions, implement new strategies and policies, and streamline their operations. This is why they’re also often referred to as operations research analysts.
Keep in mind, though, that depending on the nature of the company and its business, a specific operations analyst’s responsibilities might vary.
Operations Analysts’ Core Responsibilities
Now that we’ve looked at a broad overview of what operations analysts do, let’s dig a little deeper into the responsibilities operations analysts shoulder. Their core responsibilities include:
- Identifying problems. Because operations analysts aim to make companies more efficient, they need to find where the problems in a company’s processes lie. So, it’s arguably their main responsibility to identify problems and issues. These can include anything from sales inefficiencies and performance issues to logistical and supply chain constraints, staffing concerns, and more.
- Researching issues. Once operations analysts identify issues and inefficiencies, they’ll need to resolve them. To do this, they’ll use several tools or systems to analyze data and develop statistical models. During the process, they’ll then be able to predict which solutions are most likely to be successful before they’re implemented.
- Implementing solutions. Based on their research and analysis, they’ll recommend and implement the appropriate solutions to solve the identified problems and issues. This typically involves preparing detailed reports that delve deeper into the solution in detail, along with the advantages and disadvantages of implementing it, as well as guiding the implementation of the solution.
- Collaboration. Finally, identifying these issues and recommending and implementing their solutions is a complex process. As a result, operations analysts work as part of a larger team and must collaborate effectively with their peers and other researchers, analysts, managers, and stakeholders.
What Skills Do You Need as an Operations Analyst?
Operations analysts, in a nutshell, help companies run smoothly. However, despite working as part of a broader team, every individual operations analyst needs a set of core skills. These include:
- System analysis. Operations analysts need the ability to analyze, evaluate, and improve processes and procedures.
- Problem-solving. A major part of operations analysts’ responsibilities revolves around solving problems. So, this is a critical skill they should have, and it helps analysts gain insights into data and identify and solve problems in a company’s processes when they arise.
- Programming. To support their problem-solving and systems analysis skills, operations analysts need a certain level of programming skills. These skills also allow them to implement solutions and create custom solutions to solve a company’s problems. At the very least, they’ll need to know SQL to analyze databases and make data-driven suggestions.
- Proficiency with the right tools. Operations analysts need to be proficient with the tools they use to analyze data, make recommendations, and implement solutions. These tools depend on the analyst’s specific aims and responsibilities.
- Management skills: A basic understanding of core business management principles, such as strategic planning, resource timetabling, and leadership, is also a necessary skill every operations analyst should have. Instead of offering advice in a vacuum, they’ll be able to offer actionable guidance to managers who need to implement the changes in their team’s daily routine.
- Financial expertise: Operational analysts should have the ability to understand financial accounting data and to contextualize it against broader industry and economic practices.
- Ability to handle pressure. Operations analysts need to make real-time decisions and give advice on critical issues. As such, they operate in a high-stress environment that involves high pressure. As a result, and to be most effective, operations analysts need to be able to manage and deal with this stress.
How to Become an Operations Analyst
We’ve now seen what operations analysts do and what skills you need to become one. Let’s now look at the steps someone will typically follow to become an operations analyst.
The first step to becoming an operations analyst, apart from having the right skills, is to have the right educational credentials. Typically, this involves getting an undergraduate degree. And because an operations analyst is involved in data analysis and statistical modeling, this degree needs to be related to math, science, or computer science.
Later, as operations analysts become more advanced and experienced, they’ll often obtain further qualifications in specific areas.
Apart from obtaining a relevant degree, operations analysts typically also need professional certifications to evidence their data analysis and problem-solving skills. These certifications will generally relate to not only skills but also the tools analysts use to do their jobs.
For example, an operations analyst specializing in Salesforce may get additional certifications to help them optimize the processes native to the platform.
When candidates have the requisite skills, educational credentials, and professional certifications, their careers will typically start with an entry-level data analytics position. This is the perfect opportunity for candidates to gain valuable experience that will prepare them to move into operations analysis teams.
Once analysts have obtained an entry-level position, they’ll immerse themselves fully into all things operations-related. This will equip them with the skills and experience necessary to become fully-fledged operations analysts.
Operations Analyst vs. Business Analyst: What’s the Difference?
The next question we should consider is: What’s the difference between an operations analyst and a business analyst? This is a relevant question to consider as business analysis is a similar and popular field, especially in an environment where data is becoming vital in making sound business decisions.
In answering the question, there are a few main differences to consider. But first, it’s important to look at where these two fields are alike. For one, both fields involve solving problems and making companies and their processes more efficient.
In contrast, the major difference between the two roles is what they prioritize. Here, business analysts rely on historical data to gain insights, make predictions, and shape future strategies. Considering this, business analysts typically focus on longer-term planning.
On the other hand, operations analysts focus on working with real-time data. This, in turn, enables them to solve more immediate problems when they arise. This means that operations analysts focus more on shorter-term planning.
Another difference between these two fields is that they focus on different things. Business analysts take an external focus on problems. In other words, they’ll consider how external factors influence a company’s success and growth.
Conversely, operations analysts have a more internal focus, which means they’ll typically consider a company’s internal processes in-depth to identify issues and solve them.
Where Do Salesforce Business Analysts Fit In?
We’ve now looked at what operations analysts do and how they differ from business analysts. So, where do Salesforce business analysts fit in? Well, they fulfill a similar role compared to operational and business analysts. As such, they show companies how to achieve their goals through the Salesforce platform.
To do this, Salesforce Business Analysts will:
- Help companies extract the most value from the Salesforce platform by implementing appropriate technical specifications and Salesforce best practices. Ultimately, this ensures that a company’s Salesforce users have all the tools they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
- Apart from giving users the tools they need to perform at their best, they’ll also empower users to use these tools to the best of their ability. This typically involves collating user feedback and making changes to the Salesforce instance based on this feedback. For example, a Salesforce analyst may help teams configure the Salesforce Scheduler to increase the number of meetings booked.
- Protect a Salesforce instance from external threats by identifying them and implementing the necessary mitigation strategies, from setting Salesforce permissions and roles to configuring the security architecture.
To perform these functions, Salesforce Business Analysts, apart from the same skills and expertise as operational and business analysts, need exceptional Salesforce skills. Keep in mind, though, that these skills might vary based on a specific analyst’s function. For example, a generalist Salesforce Business Analyst will have a completely different skill set compared to a specialist Salesforce Business Analyst.
The Bottom Line: Operations Analysts Improve Your Efficiency
In order to remain successful, it’s crucial that companies make their business processes as efficient and effective as possible. In turn, this involves not only using the right tools but also working with the right people.
And, in this instance, the right people mean operations analysts who can identify your inefficiencies with incredible precision and create a roadmap that improves your workflows and your bottom line.