In the region where I work (Middle East), the Enterprise BA role is extremely rare. Due to a lack of growth opportunities, BA's continue to remain a BA's (or at best Senior/Lead BA's) in their organization after many years because either the organization is not sure what to do with them or they've hit the proverbial plateau with regards the levels that can be achieved.
This while many of their peers who started off as System Analysts of Application Analysts get the flashier title of Project Manager, considered more lucrative and certainly higher paying. It is because of this that many BA's are using the role is a springboard to get into the more visible, more transferable (from a skills perspective) PM role which has more defined progression - Project Director, Program Manager, Head of PMO etc.
Still, the article is insightful and sheds much needed light into the continuing evolution of a BA.
I'm not sure the profession is mature enough to provide a real career path for BAs (except on paper). A more pragmatic path may be recognising a real career path is impossible at the moment and focus on providing support for the right on-ramps and off-ramps can be more constructive than defining a formal career path.
The comment above is right when it talks of the BA role as a springboard instead of a destination.
The PM shift is a common one, but I've also seen a number of BAs make the switch to Solution and Enterprise architecture, into the business proper, or as strategy/process consultants.
The PM/Architect/BA Troika all have significant cross-over of needed soft and hard skills. Looking at the bullet points of needed skills you've put down for Jnr/Mid/Snr BAs I could use that list for any of the Troika.
I tend to look at BA career "progression" going along three axes, each combination providing a different possible career exit:
A) Technical vs. Business (Do you get systems working for business, or businesses using systems?)
B) Project vs. Program (Do you deliver results, or deliver power points?)
C) Do vs. Control (Are you delivering yourself, or managing the delivery of others?)
There's no intrinsically "Senior" end to any of these axes.
"Snr BA" tends to be different in each organisations - sometimes its the person who sets overall strategy, sometimes it's the person who manages the BAs, sometimes it's the person who elicits the business requirements (In the BABOK sense) and does program of work managements. Sometimes its just someone who's been around for the longest time.
(Above comment was posted by Harris Lloyd-Levy. http://consultnik.blogspot.com/. Not sure why it was posted anonymously.)
Interesting article! I wanted to mention that another great source for Business Analyst skill definitions is the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA).
SFIA is an open-source skills framework owned by the SFIA Foundation. It is open to use by anyone and is free of charge if it is used as a skills management tool within an organisation. SFIA provides the most widely accepted description of Business Change & IT skills in the world today. Although created and maintained in the UK it has been accessed by approximately 15,000 organisations from more than 100 countries. It is used in a range of industries and covers the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. It has been translated into Japanese, Chinese and Spanish.
SFIA version 4 was published in December 2008 and the framework now defines several business analysis-related skills e.g.
- Business process improvement
- Business analysis
- Business process testing
- Change implementation planning and management
- Business modelling
- Organisation design and implementation
- Stakeholder relationship management
- Data analysis
- Requirements definition and management
- Usability requirements analysis
- Usability evaluation
The framework is a large matrix with 2 dimensions. The first dimension is levels of responsibility (levels 1 to 7) and the second dimension is skills (there are 86 skills overall).
The responsibility levels map onto the generic levels you mention in your article.
The great thing about the framework is that each skill has an overall description and then a number of levels within each skill are also defined. This is really helpful for career and personal development planning as you can map and plot your desired path in terms of skill progression.
I have some additional articles on the SFIA framework at www.exceptional-performance.co.uk/category/sfia/
SFIA can be downloaded for free from the SFIA website at www.sfia.org.uk/cgi-bin/wms.pl/932.
There is also a SFIA Users forum (I am the host) at www.sfiauser.ning.com
I've been seeing more and more openings for business analysts, and was just recently sensing that this role is being valued more in organizations. Do you agree?
I am a newbie to business analysis and I've been finding it difficult to get a jnr.BA role. So I've re-branded my CV and I'm marketing myself as a business analyst which seems to be working because I'm getting calls.
Your post will enable me prepare for my interviews by concentrating more on the skills that are expected from a mid-level BA person.
its an interesting article, but as Fizz said above this position in the middle east is not mature enough, even all over the world this position is not clearly defined yet and you can find alot of defintions for this postion :S.
my question here how could a business analyst measure his/her soft skills as we all know most required skills for business analyst are soft skills ????
I think it is fantastic to see how seriously the role of the business analyst is now being taken, but I do fine these career path discussion to be a little misleading.
The skills and attributes that make an excellent business analyst are not the same that make for a good PM, EA, or even a BA Manager.
Having transitioned from being a senior BA to the manager of the BA I can say with some confidence that it is a very different skill set. Many of my most experienced BAs are happy solving problems. Often they are little more mature and perhaps a little less insecure with their place in organisational hierarchy, so my role is about making sure they kept challenged intellectually and supported emotionally.
I worry when I hear people describe the BA career path as a dead end because this implies that all career paths must lead to the management ladder. I think it's fantastic role that keeps getting better with more recognition of what's involved.
Who say the career path is a dead end? JennyJen4000 I agree - I've seen more recognition for the role of business analyst in the last ten years, more openings in the field, better pay etc. - particularly after you hit the 5 year mark in experience. Jr BAs - Be prepared to "do your time" just like any field working on mundane stuff no one else wants to touch. Anyone in the field worried about maturity and recognition of the role - spend about a fifth of your time documenting the value of your work.
Here are some other things I've leared about BA work:
- One should spend the time showing people that your work is NOT a "make-work" exercise this is a common misconception about the value of the work, that you only know when analysis fails and not when it is working well.
- Good analysis is about finding problems and progress, not perfection - if an analyst publishes work which paints a rosy picture, it is always suspect
- simplify simplify simplify
Add "resourceful" to the critical skills list - YOU MUST be prepared to find answers on your own when asking questions gets you nowhere.
Oops, one more thing ... found this today: http://www.amazon.com/Analyst-Leader-Elevating-Role-Business/dp/1567262139/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257362297&sr=1-2 thought it might be helpful to some of you ( I have received no money for this plug :) ).
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