Where the Jobs are in Business Analysis

Maria AmuchasteguiIf you’re considering a career in business analysis, you probably want to know: Do I have to have an IT background to work as a BA? What are the growth areas for business analysis?

At a recent IIBA Conference in Geneva, IIBA Founder and former CEO Kathleen Barrett answered these questions.  According to Barrett, the IIBA has identified several growth areas for business analysis—where the jobs are. Some of these jobs are based in IT, while others have a business focus.

On the business side:

  • A Business Process Analyst is someone who works on the business side and therefore does not need to have an IT background. This role has been around for a long time, and it is still in high demand.  There are actually two flavours of business process analysis: reengineering (completely changing a process) and driving efficiencies (improving an existing process). The value added by Business Process Analyst is to identify changes that need to happen.
  • An Enterprise Business Analyst is also someone who works on the business side and who does not need to have an IT background.  Enterprise BAs have a strategic, top-level view of the organization, and the value they add is to identify areas where the business can transform itself to be more competitive. Enterprise BAs have been around for a long time, but they usually have job titles such as Management Consultant or Business Architect. Typically, Management Consultants don’t think of themselves as BAs, but this is starting to change. According to Barrett, two major companies, Accenture and Deloitte, have started to identify their Management Consultants as BAs, and even to ask that they obtain a CBAP certification. This will do much to educate businesses about importance of BAs.

On the IT side:

  • A BSA, or Business Systems Analyst, is someone who works on the IT side, primarily on projects, often using a waterfall or an iterative software development methodology. This role has been around for a long time, and it will continue to grow. The value added by BSAs is to ensure that the solution is aligned with the goals of the business.
  • An Agile Analyst also resides in IT, but instead of working on waterfall projects, works in sprints (short iterations).  This is a newer role and also one where there is a lot of growth. The IIBA recently worked with the Agile Alliance to produce a document on how to deliver value in an Agile setting. Again, the value added by Agile Analysts is to remind IT where the value resides.
  • A Business Decision Analyst, also called a Business Intelligence Analyst, is a “big data” BA. This role does require technical expertise, such as knowledge of data modelling and data warehouses. The value added by Business Intelligence Analysts is to help the business understand what the data means.

Bottom line: there are opportunities for business analysts with both IT and non-IT backgrounds.  Even BAs who don’t have a technical background can thrive in an IT setting as long as they learn the relevant techniques, for example use cases.  Over the course of one career, a BA will often work in more than one of these areas, as I have personally. Whether you prefer the business side or the technical side, you’ll still end up using the same foundational skills of elicitation, communication and requirements management.

Editor’s Note: this article was written by one of our instructors, Maria Amuchastegui.  Maria attended the convention in Geneva where Kathleen Barrett spoke.

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