5 Common BA Questions Answered: What is the next logical role after becoming a BA role?

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Dec 03, 2023
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As I coach business analysts around the globe, there are 5 common Business Analysis questions I receive consistently from aspiring and existing Business Analyst (BAs);

  1. How do I move into a BA Role with no BA Experience
  2. What technologies should I know as a BA?
  3. What certifications should I pursue as a BA?
  4. What is the next logical role after becoming a BA role?
  5. How do I show my value when no one knows what I do?

If this is the first video you are watching, or an article you are reading, in this 5-part series I highly recommend you listen to Parts 1 -3 on my YouTube channel.

Okay, now let's jump into Part 4 of this 5-Part series of the "5 Common BA Career Questions Answered", where I will focus on the question "What is the next logical role after becoming a BA role?"

>> Time to Enter the Dojo <<

I get the following questions often as I coach and interact with BAs’:

  1. What is the next logical step?
  2. Where do I go from here?
  3. What are my options?

I love these questions because I get to say, "The sky's the limit!"

When I started my martial arts journey, I was motivated to spend time with my twins. As I continued to advance in the belt ranks my eye was on obtaining my black belt. Once I obtained my black my initial thought was that I made it. I achieved my goal. But I learned that it was much bigger than that. Now that I am a black belt, I have a responsibility to help my fellow classmates. I turned from student to instructor and now I have different roles within my Dojo. I am professionally and personally branded as a martial artist and I use it in everything I do. The sky's the limit!

As a Business Analyst, there are so many directions or paths, you can take as BA and it's not because you have the title of BA, but it's because of the value you bring to any organization will all the skills and competencies you have. In this article, I will explore some common paths you can consider. For the context of this blog, we are going to consider rising from a Junior BA perspective.

SENIOR BUSINESS ANALYST

Let's first start with moving into a Senior BA role. As you work as a Junior BA you will gain experience and knowledge. With this experience and knowledge comes the ability to lead, mentor, and coach others, take on bigger and more projects, and be the sought-after BA on projects. I have conducted research to determine what are some of the minimum qualifications to move into a Senior BA role and here is what I found:

Let's first start with Education:
Typically, a bachelor's degree in a relevant field is typically required. Some common degrees include business administration, finance, information technology, economics, or a related field. Some organizations may also prefer candidates with a master's degree or MBA, especially for senior-level positions.

Next is the important piece which is Work Experience:
Generally, a Senior Business Analyst position requires several years of relevant work experience as a Business Analyst. The exact number of years can vary but is typically in the range of 5 to 8 years or more. You may have also worked in other related roles such as Junior or Associate Business Analyst, Project Manager, or Systems Analyst.

Next are the characteristics and skills you should possess:

  1. First, you should have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. These skills are critical and crucial for a Senior BA. You must be able to analyze complex data, identify trends, and make data-driven recommendations.
  2. Second, you should have a deep understanding of the industry in which your organization operates. This includes knowledge of industry-specific trends, regulations, and best practices. I plan to do a deeper dive into risk management in the future. This is so important for the future BA in my opinion.
  3. Third is excellent communication skills for interacting with stakeholders, documenting requirements, and presenting findings and recommendations. Strong communication verbally and in writing is another critical skill. Especially as you move into a Senior BA role.
  4. Fourth, as a Senior BA, you should be proficient in various software and tools used for data analysis, project management, and documentation. This can include Microsoft Excel, data visualization tools, and project management software tools. These tools vary from industry to industry and organization to organization.
  5. Fifth, Senior Business Analysts often work closely with other team members, including junior analysts, project managers, and business stakeholders. Leadership skills and the ability to work effectively in a team are important. If you are a BA that no one wants to work with advancing in your career may be difficult. Take time to build relationships.
  6. Sixth, while not always mandatory, obtaining certifications can be beneficial. Certifications such as Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP®) or Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA®) offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) can enhance your credibility as a Senior Business Analyst.
  7. Seventh, the ability to adapt to changing business environments and technologies is crucial. Senior Business Analysts often need to stay current with industry trends and emerging technologies, as well as changing priorities.

Please remember that these qualifications can vary by region and industry. Some organizations may have additional requirements or preferences, and the specific qualifications for a Senior Business Analyst role may evolve over time as technology and business practices change. Therefore, it's a good idea to research job postings and speak with professionals in your target industry to understand the specific requirements in your desired location.

BUSINESS ANALYST MANAGER

Let's now move to a BA Manager role. Not everyone wants to be a manager, but for those who do becoming a manager of Business Analysts may be a logical step for you. There are some things to consider though as you consider this role. You have to think long and hard if you are ready to give up being in the day-to-day details. This can be a difficult transition but it is a necessary one. As BA Manager you should be prepared to:

  • Number one think strategically. Instead of working on a project as a BA, you will need to understand the strategic goals and objectives and communicate that to your team to direct their work.
  • Number two you will need to lead with Integrity. When you lead with integrity you gain credibility and trust, and someone the team will want to follow. If you don't build this foundation, it will be hard for you to lead a team.
  • Number three when you become a manager it is no longer about you but about the team. Your leadership of the team will build your brand in the organization. Take time to understand your team's aspirations as far as their career development. The more you help the team be successful, the more you will become known as the manager and leader others want to report to. Retention of the team is key, but allowing members of the team to advance their careers to better their professional careers is key as well. It's a balance.
  • Number 4 you have to TRUST your team. Don't micro-manage your team members. You hired them for a reason. They are on the team because they have the skill set so trust them and let me know to do their work. Trust them until they give you a reason not to and if that time comes walk in grace and kindness because you never know what a person is going through. Take a moment to understand when the change occurred and how that can be impacting their performance. Talk WITH your team not always AT your team.

PRODUCT OWNER

The next potential role you can move into is a Product Owner role. So, what is a Product Owner?

The Product Owner provides clarity to the team about a product’s vision and goal. In addition, the Product Owner is accountable for the product and sprint backlogs. They manage the backlogs communicates the status of items and attend daily Scrum meetings. It's critical that the Scrum Team/Project Team respects and trusts the Product Owner. This role is a great stepping stone to a manager role as you may not be the one doing the day-to-day activities, but instead, you are directing, guiding, and communicating strategically to the team the work that needs to be done.

SCRUM MASTER

Another potential role to build off of the Product Owner is becoming a Scrum Master.

If you work in an environment where IT solutions are built this may be the perfect next step role for you. Again, another stepping stone to leadership and management. A Scrum Master is one who leads an Agile project team leveraging the Agile project management framework. The Scrum Master is knowledgeable of the Agile framework and methodology and ensures the project team is knowledgeable to execute Agile projects.

NICHE BA

Moving forward, you can also be a niche BA. Meaning a Salesforce, IT, or RPA BA. As you continue to work in your BA career you may find that there are certain environments you thrive in. There is nothing wrong with being a specialized BA if that is an environment you thrive in.

One thing to consider is when you are in a specialized BA role, you may find that career advancement may go a little slower than someone who is not niche. That is because some niche markets are small and opportunities may not come as often, but that should not stop you from working in an environment in which you love.

You can make your own path and sometimes even your own position when you find there is a need. Continue to add value and the sky's the limit.

PROJECT MANAGER

You may also look into being a Project Manager where you manage the projects overall as opposed to being in the details.

ENTREPRENEUR

Finally, you may want to pursue entrepreneurship. You may pursue becoming a consultant in business analysis for companies or organizations. Or you may do a career pivot where you leverage your business analysis skills to work for your purpose. Whatever you have defined your purpose to be.

Well, there you have it!!!

So, as you can see, the Sky's the LIMIT!!! You can go in many different directions with your business analysis skills and competencies. It's all about the VALUE you bring to the table and that VALUE is invaluable.

I hope you find this article helpful and encouraging for your career.

Now before I go, the final part, Part 5 of this 5-Part series will be coming soon where I will discuss the final common question I receive,

"How do I show my value when no one knows what I do?"

Until next time,
The BA Martial Artist is signing off!


P.S. If you are looking to determine how you should gain clarity and focus on where you want to go in your Business Analysis career, my “Career Ninja Mastery Kit™” is the tool for you.

P.P.S. If you are working to advance your career and and you need additional assistance on updating your resume I offer an online self-paced resume course and resume review services working with me directly. If you need additional help with interview preparation I offer an online self-paced interview preparation and execution course and interview preparation services working with me directly.


Biography: Paula Bell is a Certified Business Analyst, Master Life Coach, Certified Diversity & Inclusion Manager Coach, and Career Development Coach, with over 20 years of experience working in corporate America in varied project roles and industries. In addition, for the last 20+ years, Paula has been successful in running a consulting business that focuses on mind, body, and soul for over the last 20 years. She is passionate about inspiring, motivating, and encouraging others holistically, leveraging martial arts concepts, hence the alias “The BA Martial Artist”. To find out more about Paula you can visit her website at www.paulaabell.com.

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