It's Good to be a Business Analyst

writingpen.jpgThe Business Analyst role is a good one – if you’re interested in climbing the rungs of the organizational ladder. At least that’s the tack that Barbara over at the Business Analyst Blog has taken:

In the next few years I think we are going to see more and more Business Analysts move into executive level positions in both business and IT organizations. Many individuals holding these positions currently have strong business analysis backgrounds (whether or not they ever had that job title). The progression of a Business Analyst into executive management is very logical and smart from a CEO’s perspective. BAs understand the core business and understand how to solve business problems. We are very good at looking at business areas from a strategic perspective and recommending forward thinking solutions. Because we understand what technology can do, we can see possibilities for future growth in our organizations and can see a path to get there.

I agree that Business Analyst is logically a good growth position. Analysts often find themselves working with senior-level stakeholders which doesn’t hurt for visibility – for better or for worse. BA’s often get a unique, cross divisional/departmental view of how the business works, and how technology ties in to the core business.

In addition to the technical and business aptitudes, Business Analysts are well-positioned for growth within an organization due to the fact that their calling card is the ability to communicate effectively and establish relationships of trust.

Time will tell if this is true in my case, but here’s hoping.

What are your thoughts on whether the Business Analyst role is a good preparatory role for executive leadership? Does a BA have any advantages over other business roles? Technology roles?

About the Author

Jonathan Babcock is a management and IT consultant with expertise in business analysis, process optimization and solution delivery methodology. Practical Analyst is his outlet for sharing what he's learned, and for interacting with solution delivery professionals across the globe.

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15 Comments

  1. Jonathon,

    I think the BA is an excellent growth position whether you want to stay in IT or more into a line position. One of the gread advantages of IT is that it gets to see all sides of the business. The BA has the added advantage of seeing it from both the technical side and the business side which is great experience. My personal experience in IT is that more companies want CIOs with more than just technical expertise. The want someone with actual business experience that knows how to best utilize the technology. I’ve seen this slowly changing over the past few years and I’d say at this point more companies than not want something more than just a technician in the top IT spot.

    Mike

  2. Nice to see you again, Mike.

    I agree. The BA role provides a great opportunity to gain a well-rounded view of the technical and business aspects of a company, which are certainly desirable qualities in a CIO.

  3. Hi, this is my second position as a Systems Analyst and looks like I am heading in to the BA direction. It is very interesting how things tide together in a business with Technology as a base for process automation and how process owners and technology experts feel comfortable with someone in the middle talking the same language.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Alberto, and good for you for getting into business analysis. Hope you’ll find some information here that will be useful to you.

  5. My attitude is a bit different to the way a BA is portrayed here.

    I absolutly agree with the value a BA brings – but the role itself is for everyone – I have a video on this on http://www.processmaster.com

    I see too many organisations use BA’s as mere process modelers – and using inexpierenced business people for that. A BA is a facilitator, a mentor, a collator of existing, new and emerging processes, – and ultimatly an advisor to process owners.

    We enable every single employee to be a junior business analyst, and they are bonused and rewarded for their BPI initiatives.

    A BA who does other peoples maps for them, and has an ambition of the bes in best practice libraries is poorly employed.

    A BA who governs the way business users build, use and publish maps – and then acts as the conduit for the automation of processes is a strategic asset to the company.

  6. Hi All,
    Thanks for such informative post.
    I want to be a BA , It appeals more than being on the technical side.
    Thanks friends

  7. Hi All
    i expressing my sincere gratitude for sharing of such informative..
    and i would like to know something more about BA.
    is there any certain qualifications to become a BA.
    what about the opportunities for BA
    is there any posts in BA like entry level/fresher.

  8. Thank you, Nethaji. I appreciate your kind feedback. Hopefully you’ll find some other material that will inform you on some of the roles and expectations of a business analyst. I think you’ll find a wealth of information on the sites listed in my blogroll off to the right of the page as well.

  9. Hey JB…That was real informative ! Lot of good points. Keep posting more of your comments. From my understanding of the comments, I feel its a blend of Business & Technological dimensions of IT. Correct me if Im wrong.

  10. Hi JB. Thanks for the informative piece there. It’s very insightful for prospective BAs like myself. I have a question though… Reading your article and the comments below give one the impression that a BA role requires advanced expertise and work ex in a technical IT position. Is that really true for all kinds of BA roles, or certain specific ones only?
    For eg., although I have an undergrad degree in computer science engineering, I currently work as a sales executive for a company that provides enterprise application softwares for the banking industry. The role demands that I have sound knowledge of the banking industry business processes, as well as what the IT solutions can do for them. If I continued in this role for say, another 2-3 years, could I count that as relevant learning experience for a BA role later on?(I don’t have any work ex in core IT)

    1. Thanks for commenting, BUTOOL. Your experience as you describe it should position you well for a business analysis role, provided you also have the soft skills such as facilitation, negotiation, etc.

      Technical skills/knowledge are useful to the extent that they enable you to help business stakeholders understand the possibilities and limits of applying technology to solve their problems. Ability to speak with some level of IT/technical fluency also lends credibility with technical delivery team members.

      When you apply for a BA role, you’d want to emphasize your industry experience (as applicable), business acumen, and knowledge of process.

      To level set, I did quality assurance for a few years prior to becoming a business analyst. This gave me an understanding of what technology can do and how it is used, but I have very little hard technical experience, either.

      In the end, business analysis is more a business competency than anything. Check out my page on critical skills for business analysts, It might provide you with some additional useful insight.: http://practicalanalyst.com/key-knowledge-areas-for-business-analysts/

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