Why Being a Business Analyst Is Great
Full Disclosure - I am a BA so may be a tad biased.
The role of a Business Analyst (BA) is an interesting one, and often one that goes under the radar with little attention. It takes a broad range of skills to be a BA and that’s what makes it unique, there is no one size fits all approach. Add onto that, each company requires BA’s to perform different tasks in different ways to suit the needs of the project / business or industry and you quickly realise its a role of change, adapting and variety.
There are many types of BA as they encompass many areas, from identifying requirements for developers to creating and analysing business and system processes. It’s also common for a BA to assume different roles as the project progresses through its many stages.
The main purpose of a BA is to analyse a topic and create/inform on an outcome which addresses a goal.
A Technical BA sits between the ‘Business’ and developers. Their role is to translate the desires and wishes of the business and turn them into instructions (A.K.A requirements) the developers can build against. To perform this task properly, you need to be able to interact with people who may not be comfortable with IT and tease out what they’re really needing. You then must be able to turn that into requirements for the developers and be able to answer any technical questions they have. As a result you need a combined knowledge and ability of both technical aspects and the high level designs.
So how technical does a BA really need to be? Well it depends on the role and project you’re apart of. I have generally found having a wide but shallow base of knowledge to use the ’T’ analogy is the best starting point. This will give you the ability to understand and hold conversations around all aspects of a system. From there you can focus on expanding your knowledge in relevant areas.
How well do you need to understand the business and their goals? Very, is the short answer. Let me explain, lets pretend you’re overhauling a key legacy IT system and this is providing an opportunity to address some other issues staff are facing. The true value a BA provides, is the ability to conduct a conversation where the actual root cause of problem is revealed. This may not sound impressive but knowing the right questions to ask to get the individual to properly think and evaluate an issue in vital.
As I've eluded to a few times above, being a BA is a great role if you like variety / change and having an input in most areas. This last point is especially true, by being in both the technical and ‘business’ camp on a project, you are one of the few people who fully understand whats happening on both sides in detail. Often this leads to informing others and acting a spokesperson for a range of areas.
Just like in any other role there are aspects which aren't so great. Due to the nature of working with lots of individuals towards a common goal, you will encounter the infamous ‘Office Politics’ and hidden personalities and agendas. Whilst this can be challenging at times, learning how to negotiate this is a priceless skill which will be invaluable as you look to build relationships and your career.