Embarking on a Business Analyst Career
Searching for a diverse, stimulating, and demanding job role in the IT sector?
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Or maybe you’re a tester aiming to essay your analytical acumen in problem-solving and acquire wide-ranging business and tech experience? Could you be looking for a fulfilling and profitable career?
If any of these situations strike a chord with you, then consider a profession as a business analyst – it might just be the right career path to pursue.
=> Read an introductory guide for Business Analysts Here.
Business analysis has emerged as a sought-after field in the industry, promising a bright future for those embarking on this path. It allows companies to make smarter investments in resources such as manpower and money, and has a promising growth trajectory.
Additionally, a love for travel is a plus – the business analyst role often involves extensive travel, both within the country and abroad, as per project needs. Visiting clients to gather requirements is a common task for a business analyst.
Being positioned in a multinational IT firm with a global clientele can offer excellent exposure for an ambitious business analyst.
Who is a Business Analyst?
As the label suggests, a Business Analyst (BA) scrutinizes businesses to help devise software that fuels rapid business expansion, boosts efficiency, organization, and ultimately, success.
Today’s IT sector sees the role of a Business Analyst as a vital part of its machinery. They play an indispensable role in teams where understanding business requirements profoundly is essential. The Business Analyst serves as the bridge connecting business operations to software technology, deriving requirements, and aiding in software creation.
What does being a Business Analyst mean?
So, what exactly does a Business Analyst do? The BA acts as the company’s representative while interacting with clients to collect requirements for desired software solutions. They comprehend client needs and convey them in an easily understandable language to the technical team, supervising the software’s evolution.
A BA needs to possess a thorough understanding of the firm’s processes as they liaise with both the business and the software company’s technical unit. They correlate business mechanisms with available software, recognize any existing gaps, and come up with solutions to ensure the software aligns with the client’s demands.
Here’s an Example, let’s assume a PQRS bank wants to buy a loan management software from a software firm. The Business Analyst interacting with the bank’s team and the software company’s technical group needs to have a comprehensive grasp of the loan management process within the banking industry.
The BA extracts requirements from the bank regarding its loan management process, maps them onto the software, identifies any discrepancies, and formulates solutions to address the identified gaps. The responsibility of developing the requisite software for the client or bank lies with them.
A Business Analyst boasting technical expertise can effectively communicate and translate business needs for the development team. This is where individuals having a background in engineering or testing gain an edge.
Business Analysts stemming from technical backgrounds like engineering or testing relate better to the technical team.
Responsibilities of a BA
The chief duty of a Business Analyst is to collect, comprehend, analyze, and document customer software requirements from a business standpoint.
The scope of activities for a BA might vary between organizations, but some key roles include partnering with the business to refine their operations and processes, conversing with stakeholders to identify issues and needs, and helping in functional testing.
A Business Analyst’s key duties encompass:
- Elicitation and analysis of requirements (Primary focus)
- Documentation of requirements and associated artifacts (Primary focus)
- Conducting training for external and internal customers
- Functional testing
- Working closely with the development team to sustain an understanding of requirements and successful product design (Primary focus)
- Supporting pre-sales activities (Business Development Team)
Given the high demand for Business Analysts in the IT industry, the profession has emerged as a lucrative career choice. Furthermore, possessing prior experience in a specific business domain renders an edge for Business Analysts.
How to Initiate Your Journey as a BA?
You can delve into a career as a Business Analyst through the MBA route or the Testing or Coding route, as detailed below.
Via the MBA route
Nowadays, IT companies cater to a spectrum of domains, spanning manufacturing, networking, banking, finance, healthcare, and more. The domain refers to the industry that an IT company is building software products for or providing services to. If you’re resorting to a career in banking and finance, think about majoring in finance during your MBA program. If the domains of manufacturing and operations intrigue you, pursue an MBA in Operations. Selecting the right specialization stream in the MBA course aligns you with entering your desired niche within the IT sector.
The track record of a Business Analyst is often amplified by prior experience in the business domain they cater to.
As an Example, a Business Analyst with earlier experience within the banking sphere would thrive in an IT company that creates software for banks.
While prior business experience isn’t a prerequisite to becoming a Business Analyst in IT, individuals with such history wield a unique advantage. With years of experience in a specific domain, you have the potential to transform into a subject matter expert (SME).
Securing an MBA degree from a reputed institution also comes in handy. Even though IT Business Analysts don’t mandatorily require a technical degree, an MBA is an added bonus for the aspirants looking to join reputed IT firms.
An MBA program endows individuals with the skills vital to a successful journey as a Business Analyst, such as business acumen, communication skills, domain expertise, and management skills. Business Analysts engage with various stakeholders, customers, and developers. The skills derived from an MBA program set them up for effective time management and personnel management.
Via the Testing or Coding route
Among a crowd, outstanding talent is often recognized, and skilled individuals stand out from their peers. Programmers and testers show significant potential to transition into the realm of business analysis. Exceptional coders and testers boast robust analytical skills and cultivate a solid business understanding through their interaction with related software.
Technical professionals boasting decades of experience in a certain business domain have a thorough knowledge of the business, often exceeding that of newly hired Business Analysts from premium management schools.
Technical backgrounds offer the advantage of deeper comprehension during the requirements analysis phase since the perspective of a tester or coder is distinct from that of a non-technical individual. Solutions devised by technical professionals are often simpler and more robust. They excel in software creation and testing since they can relate well to the development team.
However, testers or programmers aspiring to become Business Analysts must ensure they accrue the necessary skill set and qualifications.
Superb oral and written communication skills, alongside a firm grasp of the English language, are crucial. As Business Analysts are primarily in charge of eliciting requirements and ensuring accurate product development via effective interfacing with stakeholders, clear communication is indispensable.
Subpar communication may lead to incorrect requirement elicitation and the creation of software products that do not satisfy the end-user’s requirements.
Individuals deficient in strong communication skills can steadily amplify this ability by assisting a Business Analyst with written assignments, reading documents thoroughly, and practicing speaking English. English-speaking courses can also be explored to fine-tune these skills. Although surmounting this barrier might be challenging, the effort is justified for gifted individuals.
I have encountered many experienced testers and developers with sharp analytical skills aspiring to become Business Analysts but hampered by communication challenges.
A management qualification, such as an MBA or its equivalent, makes a notable difference and should not be disregarded.
A universally recognized management degree brings about a transformation in one’s personality. The course cultivates your potential, refines your managerial skills, and bolsters your confidence grandly.
An MBA course further catalyzes the development of communication skills through various subjects, assignments, and examinations. MBAs heighten your chances of securing management positions and earning higher salaries.
Testers or developers can pursue full-time MBA programs to establish a competitive edge. A part-time MBA program is another available option. In both cases, it’s critical to pursue the degree from a credible institution, as possessing an MBA degree without personal growth and personal enhancement offers fewer benefits in the long run.
In several leading IT organizations, an MBA or a similar degree is a basic condition for undertaking the role of a Business Analyst.
Salary levels and grade ranges also differ for MBA and non-MBA candidates aspiring to be Business Analysts. Therefore, apart from self-improvement and enhanced communication skills, an MBA accelerates career growth and the potential to earn higher salaries.
My firm belief is that individuals with technical backgrounds stand a greater potential to become thriving Business Analysts, courtesy of their technical skills, which guide their career path conveniently. Skills in coding or testing significantly contribute to the evolution of software products since individuals with such backgrounds are familiar with technology and programming constraints.
Technical experts turned Business Analysts consistently offer better solutions to requirements. The absence of technical insights poses a significant difficulty for Business Analysts devoid of coding or testing experience.
What’s the Next Step Up the Career Ladder?
Upon gaining several years of industry experience, professionals reach a critical point where they can advance in their careers.
Business Analysts can progress to become Lead/Senior Business Analysts, Consultants, Product Owners, or Product Managers. These are highly coveted roles in the IT domain, offering profound challenges and gratification.
Over time, Business Analysts contribute to the making of high-quality, feature-rich products and services in software development companies. Business Analysts seeking to advance their expertise and expand their career options should explore industry-recognized qualifications.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) awards the prestigious Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) certification. Considered a crucial step in a Business Analyst’s career, earning this certification often leads to a 16% salary hike (*Source: Certification Magazine).
The IIBA pinpoints the core competencies, collectively referred to as “underlying competencies,” in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK).
The core competencies incorporate:
- Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Behavioural Characteristics
- Business Knowledge
- Communication Skills
- Interaction Skills
- Software Applications
The skills corresponding to these competencies include:
- Requirements Elicitation
- [Process] Change Leadership
- Requirements Planning & Management
- Stakeholder Management
- Verbal Communications and Presence
- Written Communications and Documentation
By 2024, the demand for business analysis professionals in the United States will reach 876,000.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections Program)
A Business Analyst’s role is vital in software development projects, particularly at the project’s inception. Business Analysts aid in delineating methodologies for deriving and eliciting requirements and formalizing these processes. Presently, this role continues to grow compared to other professions.
Recommended literature =>> How to Pave a Path to Become a Business Analyst
While possessing professional qualifications is not currently mandatory, this might change over the forthcoming years as the importance of IIBA and CBAP certifications increase.
People with technical backgrounds, like coding and testing, exhibit immense potential to evolve into successful Business Analysts. They can leverage their technical skills to refine their communication abilities and personal development. While business analysis is a rewarding career, it is undoubtedly a demanding one.
The expertise garnered as a Business Analyst is immensely valuable and can be transferred to other highly-compensated roles in project management, program management, business architecture, and strategy.
Our subsequent tutorial will divulge a step-by-step guide on shifting your career from a Tester to a Business Analyst.
About the Author:
This enlightening article was penned by Samita Kalla, one of our STH authors.
If you’re a zealous Business Analyst