Transitioning Career from Quality Analyst to Business Analyst
A Quality Assurance professional or a QA is responsible for the product/project quality. They are...
This is a very frequent request and we come across many interesting questions.
“I am excited about business analysis career it, but I have no idea as to how to transition into the new career. “
"I do not have experience in business analysis, hence I do not get a job. I do not get a BA job; hence I cannot have experience in business analysis." This becomes a chicken and egg problem to solve.
Why business analysis is a fabulous career?
Technology today offers tremendous opportunities to improve businesses. Business Analyst is a role where one can contribute to the organization’s strategy, its offerings, its revenue, and its margin. It offers great opportunity to interact with many stakeholders, develop innovative solutions and improving existing solutions. Business analysts are the bridge between Business stakeholders and Technology Architects.
defines business analysis as the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysts enable an enterprise to articulate its needs and the rationale for change and to design and describe solutions that deliver value.
At the same time, the business analyst role requires new skills to hone. Here is the 9-step proven approach for someone to become a successful business analyst from any other role.
1. Learn the basics of business
The very first step to understand is how businesses run and what they do. A good starting point would be to go through the generic process classification framework provided by APQC. You can download the free personal version of APQC process classification framework from APQC website. The APQC PCF framework enumerates thousand+ tasks that organizations perform irrespective of their size, location, and domain. It also would be a good idea to read up basic books on business strategy, marketing, finance, HR and operations.
2. Develop behavioral skills
The second major aspect where the business analyst role differs significantly from many roles is the amount of interaction expected from business analysts. Typically, many roles can be individual contributor roles (such as developer, tester etc.) with very limited interaction with customers or end-users. As a business analyst, one must learn how to interact with a sponsor, Domain SME, End users and all other business side stakeholders including suppliers. This requires honing one’s skills in behavioral aspects. Key skills for business analysis are communication, stakeholder interaction, active listening skills, facilitation.
How does one hone behavioral skills?
One is to practice the skills any opportunity that one gets.
Be proactive to communicate, to speak out. You can record your own communication using a mobile phone and then analyze that to see if you are communicating clearly, in the right language and manner.
Your organization may already be providing behavioral training in communication, negotiation skills, assertiveness and facilitation skills. Take advantage of these behavioral training available within your organization and be better in the skill.
3. Learn the business analysis process
Like any other activity, the business analysis also follows a process. Many guidebooks say that the business analysis process can't be standardized. But that's not true. In most of our project experiences, we have observed business analysis has a fairly well-defined approach.
The best part is you can go ahead and lay your hands on the Business Analysis Core Standard from IIBA. This is available without any cost, is a fairly short document of about 50 pages. This will give you a good idea about how business analysis is actually performed.
4. Learn requirements modeling tools and management tools
Like most other professions, business analysts also use many tools as part of their work. Some of the tools popular tools are for business process modeling, state modeling, and use case modeling. You can lay your hands-on trial version of Microsoft Visio, that's a tool very popular in many organizations. You can also learn other free tools such as, Business process modeler. You can learn to model some processes within your workplace.
5. Learn domain of the organization/domain of your interest
The best place to start your business analysis journey is your current organization. You are part of the organization, you know people, processes and tools. But at the same time, your business stakeholders would I expect you to understand the specific nuances of your organization’s domain.
There are good resources available on the internet almost on all domains and may be within your own organization. Another good advice we suggest is to look for a handbook on your domain. So, for example, if you are in the retail domain, to look for a book by name Handbook of retail. Go through the handbook, you will get a fairly good idea about how retail domain functions. When you understand your domain and you understand your organization, your stakeholders’ acceptance for you as a business analyst will increase manifold.
6. Get involved in the requirements gathering activities
Now that you already have learnt some basics of business analysis, the best place to learn and practice would be to get involved in the project requirements. Be a shadow business analysis for the current business analysis of your project. This would allow you to practice the concepts that you have learnt.
Practice makes a (wo)man perfect!
Any skill can be learnt if you are willing to put in the effort to learn!
7. Participate in professional groups, conferences on business analysis
There are many professional groups, virtual and physical conferences on business analysis. Participate in these events to understand how business analysis in changing, what are the trends in business analysis and how you can bring new business analysis concepts to your organization.
8. Use stepping stones: Explore roles which are gateways to business analysis
Here is a true story of one of my client place colleagues. I am really amazed at her perseverance which has allowed her to become a Quality Manager in software division of General Electric from being principal of a school, less than 4 years’ time.
How could she achieve it? She had college-going daughters when she decided to try her luck with the software industry.
Which company would like to hire such a person who does not any experience in IT?
The situation is similar to this, you can take a long jump of 10 feet and the river is 15 feet wide. What do you do?
When I ask this question in the session, I get many interesting answers like "I will build a boat", "I will learn swimming". Good - but how much time or resource you need for that?
Possibly the most intelligent option is to find stepping stones in the river bed - These will allow you to cross the river by resting temporarily on them. She exactly did that, joined a role which utilized her administrative experience in a mid-size IT firm and learned to ride the rope.
Do try this - find mid position careers between your current job and the job of a business analyst. Roles such as business process analyst, reporting analyst, customer support analyst – many roles teach you some aspects of business and make you ready to be BA. Keep taking small jumps - in a few years’ time, you will find yourself in your dream role.
Look around your area. Do you find any non-profit organization?
Non-profit organizations also require business analysis. They are constantly looking for professional support.
They may be happy to have you consult the business analysis area.
There are 2 benefits – You gather hands-on business analysis experience and also earn good karma.
10. Get yourself certified
Finally, to prove your own competence as a business analyst, the best way to do that is to get yourself certified in business analysis. Many organizations provide business analysis certification and the most prominent one among them is IIBA. About a couple of years back, IIBA did not have any certification for new business analysis professionals. It required that the business analyst have about two and a half years’ experience to take the certification.
But in late 2016, IIBA came up with Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA), a new certification scheme spotting the need of the hour and catering to the aspirations for many. ECBA caters to those professionals who would be making an entry or begin their career in business analysis domain. It doesn’t require any experience in business analysis to take this certification. It focuses on those knowledge areas of business analysis domain which are going to be of use for the new business analysts, such as requirements analysis, requirements lifecycle management, elicitation, and collaboration.
Please see here for more details on how to get certified with.
LN has 25 years of professional experience. He is the Co-Founder of Adaptive US, the World's #1 IIBA Training Provider. He has authored 20+ books on business analysis.