When it all started?
In the ancient times when programming languages like COBOL were used, the programmers were the geeky guys who had complex codes to create. They didn’t really have the time to interface with the clients and figure out what the client really needed. And this was the origin of the Business Analyst role.
The basic/primary role of a Business analyst is to act as glue or a liaison between the business stakeholders and the tech guys.
They gather the requirements from the clients and make it understandable for the developers or the tech guys. But of course, in the ever-evolving environment of IT projects, this is not the only thing a Business analyst does. A Business Analyst (BA) is like a handyman/woman who has multiple roles and perspectives to a project as they interact with most number of project stakeholders.
This can be well explained through an example, that you could associate with in your daily life:
Let’s imagine, you are a family of six and your dad buys the groceries. Now, your mum comes to check with you and your three other siblings (of different ages and interests) what you would like for the following week’s menu at home. Two of you might have similar choices and the other two might disagree and want something else or maybe one of you wants to buy stationary, and the other might want luxury items like chocolates or ice-creams while the list being prepared is for fruits and vegetables.
In this situation, your mum makes a grocery list that satisfies the needs of the house (holistically) based on the budget. She might also add the stationary list for a later day at the end of the page. Finally draws a separate column for luxury items as low priority and finish it off with a note for your dad, to buy them only if they fall into the set budget after buying the necessities.
Your mum acts as a Business Analyst here. The children, the mum and the dad would be the stakeholders and the dad would be the tech guy.
What does a Business Analyst do?
Referring to the example, mum who acts as a Business Analyst:
- analyses the situation, and weeds out requirements that do not fall into the current context of groceries (here stationery).
- communicates and convinces this with the person requesting this.
- then document this in a clear manner for your dad to understand it.
- also has an attention to detail while creating a list keeping the shop’s layout in mind so she groups the vegetables appropriately.
- makes a note of the add-ons (if the house’s budget and your dad’s time permits) to wow the stakeholder (you and your siblings).
- also resolves conflicts that arise while taking choices and preferences.
What’s so cool about being a Business Analyst?
A career in BA is domain independent. You could work a few years in the Medical domain, then a few projects in the Insurance domain, later switch to banking or any other sector. So it is perfect for someone who yearns to learn something new with every new project. Again the option/choice is purely yours. You could either stick to one domain and make it a niche or have a diverse background.
It opens up a huge avenue of opportunities. BA is a fast track way to become a Project manager. In fact, if you are someone who loves taking initiative and responsibilities, you could have opportunities to run small projects (like a project manager) much early on in your career. Some of the career paths you could choose are:
- Business Analyst Consultant or a Freelancer (and schedule your own hours).
- Move on to become a Project Manager.
- Become a Lead Business Analyst and coach fellow Business Analysts in the organisation with best practices and latest BA concepts.
- Become a Business Analyst Coach: there are plenty training institutes coaching BA concepts. After a few years of experience, you could consider this as an option if teaching comes naturally to you.
- Could transition as a Project Co-ordinator for non-IT projects as the two roles have a lot of skills in common.
LEARNING SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY
Things have been changing rapidly and evolving every single second in the IT space. Long long time ago computer was as big as a room, now IT is a part of everything we do. For instance: traditional clothes shopping to e-commerce websites, traditional passbook type of banking to online/ATM banking, everything over a span of just a decade. If being a part of this phenomenal change is something you aspire like me, Business Analyst is an option you should definitely look into.
Who is this role appropriate for?
Well, anyone could be a Business Analyst. The example of the family budget shopping would have probably given you a fair idea of the skills involved, like analysis, documentation, communication, attention to detail and conflict resolution. However, the following traits will surely bring out the best BA in you.
By this I mean both, verbal and written. This is an essential quality for a Business Analyst. You should be able to communicate with optimum information in a crisp and clear fashion. Have you ever heard of the term “KISS rule” (Keep It Simple Stupid rule)? Well, that is a good starting point to follow. Communication is something you would use every second at work as a BA, whether it be an email, an interview, in meetings, phone calls, face to face, etc.
In my opinion, this is a key factor in becoming a successful BA. For instance; most often, the clients are busy doing their daily activities. Getting them to spare time for you is often a difficult task. You don’t have to be a sales person but you need to be persistent (yet be considerate) and have the ability to convince the clients and the developers, so everyone is on the same page.
EQUIPPED WITH PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS/TECHNIQUES
This is an added advantage for a BA. There are plenty of certifications and Business Analysts groups/Project Management bodies that will further enhance your career. However, you would need to set foot into the industry and have couple of years experience prior to most certifications. Find more about certifications in the ‘How do I become a Business Analyst?’ section
As a BA, one of the things that you would be doing is presenting and facilitating meetings on a regular basis. Organise yourself and showcase your leadership traits in any such events/meetings. There will be project status meetings with senior members of the organisation or a brain storming session with a team of subject matter experts or daily/weekly status meeting within the project team. So during those meetings, your specialty as a good BA is to bring back the team to the area of focus every time they diverge.
A good BA is flexible working with teams and yet tucking himself/herself away for hours together on their computer. As a BA, managing your time effectively is critical(as with anything you do in life). You should have excellent multi tasking ability, like thinking from a client’s perspective to that of a developer or a project manager or working in a team to working alone.
How do I become a Business Analyst?
To become a Business Analyst, there isn’t a defined path or a particular college degree. You definitely need a degree. Since it is domain independent, you can choose to do your under-graduation in any field you like. You could have a strong technological background or you could get a degree in Human Resources, Law, Accounting, Marketing, Arts or literally just about anything.
Once you graduate and ready to put yourself in the job market, look for a Business analyst job in your area of expertise. For instance,
Degree in HR – Payroll Analyst
Degree in Marketing – Marketing Analyst would interest you and so on.
BA jobs are probably a better way to get into a corporate world. You can also push for internships to get a better feel of the job.
One other thing that could bring your CV up the pile is a BA certification. As a fresher, one of the best options to choose is ITIL foundation certification. It is pretty straightforward and has no prerequisites unlike other BA or Project Management Certifications. Also check out IIBA website and check their careers section to get a detailed understanding of BA career.
About the Author
I am Swapnika Yerramilli. I’m a PMI-ACP certified Business Analyst. I have worked in Medical, Insurance and Hospitality domains with over 5 years of experience within U.K and India.
After my under-graduation in Hospitality, I helped open restaurants for a Michelin star chef back in the U.K. Then I moved on to become their Marketing Analyst. Later I followed my dream and completed my MBA (in Change Management) from Cardiff University U.K. After my MBA I started working as a Business Analyst in an Insurance firm. My most recent projects were with a Medical lab services back in India.
If you would like any more information about Business Analyst profession please feel free to leave a comment here. You can follow me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to help you with whatever I can.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt