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New Post 4/4/2014 1:52 PM
User is offline SK
1 posts
No Ranking

To BA or Not To BA 

 When googling around  to get a feel for the market (Toronto), I'm getting the following impression:

BA looks like one of those positions where the person has to be a subject matter expert in a particular business and no one can break in to a new business area, a lot like the PM has to be a subject matter expert, which is not the function of a PM, but that doesn't stop it from being a requirement in computerized application screening.

What I'm seeing "out there" is a confusion about what a business analyst is and how far their function should go. I'm seeing Business Analyst vs Business Systems Analyst vs Systems Analyst vs Business Analytics. These terms seem to be tossed around like promises on the campaign trail.

Suppose I do business analysis in a gov environment (which limits my market experience right there), if I get my CBAP, I think I would still be marginalized by the market and unable to branch out into other business environments as an independent consultant.

What's your read?

New Post 4/4/2014 2:28 PM
User is offline Perry McLeod
70 posts
8th Level Poster

Re: To BA or Not To BA 

 Your observations do have a lot of merit.

My comments are for the GTA and the other places in Canada I have been exposed to.  I cannot speak for the profession on a global scale.  My comments are mine and do not necessarily reflect the opinions expressed by those I have mentioned in this string.

These issues are changing but that change is slow.  Consider what drives Toronto economically - big bank, insurance, government and other brick and mortar intuitions.

It’s these institutions that drive the BA market place because they do much of the hiring.  Their points of view have not entirely caught up to those of the IIBA, Kitty, Kevin, Myself, Rich and Liz Larson, Kathleen, Julian Sammy, Jason, David B, or anyone else I forgot (sorry) who have been working so hard to promote the ideas of what business analysis is really about.

Like I said, it’s happening (for example CIBC does have a functioning centre of practice) but not at the speed we had wanted.  True change can take a full generation.  I believe we still have another 10-15 or perhaps even 20 years before we really see the BA role become what we all know it can be.

Remember – it took more than 30 years before PMI really started to make waves.

It took me 20 years to realize that the work that I do now, in terms of education and awareness, will not be realized until long after I’ve been laid to pasture.


I remain hopeful however.

New Post 4/10/2014 8:20 AM
User is offline Jarett Hailes
155 posts
6th Level Poster

Re: To BA or Not To BA 

From my experience in Canada I agree with Perry's assessment that titles and actual job duties vary greatly across organizations (and even within organizations) and industries. If you want to perform actual business analysis then you need to really look at the job description and look beyond the typical BA/BSA/Business Analytics titles for opportunities that involve business analysis activities. That could mean getting into market research, product design, product manager and customer service/sales roles. 

Domain experience may be emphasized by some organizations; if there's a particular organization or industry you wish to work for long term then it is worthwhile to develop that domain expertise through other roles first then transition into a BA role. 

If you're looking to be an independent consultant then the job titles you are given for any particular role is irrelevant. You need to show them you can do whatever they need done effectively and with little hand-holding. Satisfied customers (whether they are former employers or clients) that are willing to say how amazing you are will trump any credentials or certifications. If that's the route you want to take, start looking for part-time or short-term engagements that will allow you to build up your portfolio. Start networking and look for smaller organizations that could use some business analysis for a specific project. Take on projects that involve business analysis + something else you're good at; when you're looking for longer engagements highlight the business analysis work you did.

Another avenue is to look to be hired by a bigger Management Consulting firm (Deloitte, McKinsey, etc.). You will be doing business analysis by another name and have a pretty good support network, infrastructure and learning tools to get started. When you're ready to go independent they are a great name to have on your resume and will instantly give you credibility.

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