There are some software applications that are absolutely useful and should be present in every business analyst's toolkit, as a bare minimum. This post lists 5 software functionalities and examples of applications that can deliver them – at little or no cost.
Word Processing & Presentation Software – This category is absolutely essential in preparing documents like reports, minutes, business cases and other business analysis deliverables. Equally important is software necessary for designing and delivering presentations to stakeholders. See 10 Free MS Word Alternatives. Also see 5 Free Presentation Software.
Notes – This category of applications is best for taking quick notes or jotting down the main discussion points in a conversation. Note-taking applications are available in multiple forms and can be very useful in capturing ideas in both text and graphic forms. Some note-taking applications even have the functionality to create mind maps/outlines and provide access to your notes no matter where you are. Evernote is a popular example here. See 5 best note-taking tools.
Communication Applications – I once wrote an article on free communication tools that every business analyst should know about. Communication tools are essential for passing messages across regardless of geographical barriers and time differences. Think of Skype and Yammer. See Free Communication Tools Every BA Should Know About.
Modelling Applications – These are essential for drawing models and diagrams to aid users' understanding of requirements and GUIs. See A List of Free Business Process Modelling Software.
Requirements Management Tools - This is another essential category of software applications that should form part of every BA's toolkit for managing requirements effectively. See 5 Benefits of Requirements Management Software.
What other categories of tools do you find useful?