Should You Become a Generalist BA?
In this video, I talk about the Benefits and Drawbacks of the Generalist Business Analyst to give you context and help you decide which of the three BA archetypes is right for the career path you choose.
BECOMING A GENERALIST BUSINESS ANALYST (It’s Not Easy)
Due to the first major drawback of being a Generalist BA, I typically advise people not to become a Generalist BA. Becoming a Generalist BA is a very stress inducing job especially if you don’t have strategies in place to cope with that stress.
DRAWBACKS of being a Generalist Analyst
- YOUR KNOWLEDGE RESETS ON EVERY PROJECT
- for consultants and contractors
- This is why you should try to specialize. either in the BSA or the BPA side.
- Three’s a lot of stress that comes with not knowing what you’re talking about. That paired with the fact that you’re expected to be either the first or second subject matter expert on the project
- You have to be good at learning. Moving from Project to Project, or Domain to Domain, you have to be able to learn about the area and the subject matter really quickly aside from doing your regular acivities and tasks as a generalist BA.
- Image this scenario: You’re thrown into a project, a meeting is being held. The stakeholders are talking very deeply and very in-the-weeds about particular issues that happening – Hows that feel right now? – that’s the major drawback.
- 2-3 weeks you typically have to be the person that has the most amount of knowledge.
- Stability. Depth of knowledge – If you find pleasure in getting really really deep knowledge in a particular subject.
Benefits of Becoming a Generalist BA
You Remain Flexible.
- You’re employer can practically drop you in any project or any situation and you’ll be able to handle it. You’re capable of ramping yourself up quickly.
- Whether you work for an employer or you work on a consulting basis, the benefit here is there’s no shortage of work for you. You can basically be put on any type of project, or choose any type of project in the job market. But there’s a caveat here you should be aware of:
- Caveat: Employers don’t typically don’t see the value of a Generalist BA’s. They don’t know GBA’s can ramp up really quickly and they’ll think you don’t have any domain knowledge that their in.
- Variety in the type of work you do. You’re not stagnant in the typical 9-5 job.
- It’s unlikely you’ll make the same amount of money as a specialized BA inside the same company who has very deep knowledge and who knows how everything works. Example: The SAP FICO business analyst is generalist going to know more than the Generalist BA in the same depeartment
- If you’re a generalist BA who’s contracting or consulting, you can command higher salaries because you’re flexible for many types of roles.
LEARN.BA. The skills you need to perform at your peak BA capacity. Should you become a generalist B.A.? In this video. I’m going to talk about the benefits and the drawbacks of becoming a generalist BA to help you answer that question for your own career. So you’re thinking about which of the threeB.A. archetypes is right for your career and you’re trying to figure out what the benefits and drawbacks are of being a PSA or being a BP or being a generalist. This video is gonna answer the questions of the benefits and drawbacks of being a generalist being for you. So I myself am a generalist. But when people typically ask me for advice on whether they should become a journalist be or not my advice is usually no because most people are not really well equipped to be a generalist.
And so when I talk about the drawbacks you’ll understand why but my advice to most people is that you should try to specialize either on the process side in a business domain or in some system if you want to be a BSA you should try to specialize as much as you can because of the first major drawback of what a generalist MBA brings.
And that first major drawback is that your knowledge as a generalist B.A. resets on every single project and so every time you start up a new project especially if you’re moving from domain to domain to domain you’re typically the person with the least amount of knowledge on that project. When you first start out and for a lot of people that can be a very stressful situation. If you don’t have the natural predisposition to deal with that type of uncertainty or if you’re not handling it. If you’re not good at handling the stress that comes with not knowing how things function and you don’t have the strategies in place to try to ramp yourself up very quickly. Being a generalist is going to be a very very difficult job for you because a lot of times when you’re thrown right into a project the expectation is is that you’re going to become either the first or the second most knowledgeable person about the subject matter right.
If you’re the second it’s usually the subject matter expert that on the project that is the most knowledgeable. But if you’re starting off a new project and you’re the least knowledgeable person so the project manager a lot of the developers a lot of your business stakeholders subject matter experts. They all know way more than you when you’re first starting out and if you’re planning on moving from project to project and from domain to domain but you’re not really good at ramping yourself up knowledge wise being a generalistB.A. is gonna be a very very stressful job for you. For me personally, it’s a bit of a different formula.
I like the challenge of learning new domains and so just personality wise when I stay in one business area in one domain or I’m working with one system for too long I tend to get a little bit bored and a little bit a little bit antsy and I feel like I need to do something new. So for if you’re that type of a person then the general is probably the perfect role for you because you’re willing to deal with the stress that’s going to come with you not knowing anything when you first start out on a project. And the reason why this is coming up is because I’m actually going through that right now.
So I’ve just started up another project and I know next to nothing about the domain and I know next to nothing about how the system works. So the system we’re working with is SJP SVP final and I’ve never worked with Michael before I’ve worked with theH.R. component of. On my last project but the financial and controlling piece of SVP something I know nothing about. And so when I walk into a meeting oftentimes the conversation is a very very deep operational level so they’re talking in the weeds about very specific problems that the business is experiencing and I need to make sure that I understand exactly what they’re saying because a lot of those details are what the project is going to need to solve.
Now this being my sixth day on the project I have been working the last five or six days to wrap myself up as quickly as possible and I have certain strategies in place to help me do that.
I’ll talk about that in the next video or in another video but if you want to become a generalistB.A. You have to know first of all that the major drawback is that there’s gonna be a lot of stress that comes with you not knowing what you’re talking about basically about the subject matter that paired with the fact that you’re expected to be the most knowledgeable person on the project can be too much for a lot of people to bear. Over and over and over again on different projects. If you’ve ever started a new job before that stress that you go through in learning the job you’re basically going through a certain amount of that stress on every single project. So if your project last six months and you start up the next line it’s basically like you’re learning almost a totally new job and so you have to you have to be good at learning that if you want to be a generalist. So that’s the major drawback.
And again I’ll offer you some pointers on how you can ramp yourself up quickly. Both systems and domain knowledge wise if you want to become a generalistB.A. I’ll talk about that in another video but now let’s let me talk to you about the benefits of becoming a generalistB.A. and the single biggest benefit is that you remain flexible. And so if you’re working for one company you have one employer and you’ve worked at that company for a long time. The benefits for your employer of you being a generalist is that they can kind of drop you into almost any project and there they can have the confidence to know that you’re capable of ramping yourself up quickly and to basically get the job done right.
And so that major benefit is a benefit for your employer obviously because they have a very flexible analyst that they can basically get to solve any type of problem and the benefit for you in that is that what you get to do is that you get to experience a lot of different projects but you see that you’re a better fit for a lot of different types of projects. So there’s usually never a shortage of work for you if you’re a generalist MBA because if you’re the type of person who can solve any problem you can basically get put on any project right. And so that kind of makes sense is that there’s not really going to be a shortage of work for you with even or even either if you’re with your own employer or if you want to do this on a contracting basis generalist BS.
As long as you have a good reputation and people know that you can do the work really well you can basically pick and choose what project you want to work on because there are so many different projects that you can be eligible for. Again there are some caveats to that right. If an employer is used to only hiring very specialized BS they’re probably not going to see the value of a generalistB.A. because they’re going to think to themselves well this person doesn’t know anything about the domain that we’re working in. And so what kind of value are they going to actually have for us employers who’ve never hired generalists A’s and don’t know that generalist base can ramp up like very very quickly and can start producing the deliverables that they need very quickly. They’re not going to see that value. So you’re not going to be a good candidate for those types of employers. These employers are typically in areas where you need a lot of very deep and very specific knowledge to be able to deal with it.
So you’re not going to be a good candidate for those types of jobs so that the single biggest benefit is that number one the pool of jobs that you will be a candidate for is much larger. And if you’re the type of person who likes a lot of variety becoming a specialist is probably not the right job for you becoming a generalist was probably the right type of business analysis work that you want to do. If you’re anything like me and you like a lot of variety and the type of work that you want to do and if you tend to feel a little bit stagnant if you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time then you want to then that’s probably a good indicator of that becoming a generalist DEA is going to be a really good fit for you. Again you’ve got to have the coping mechanisms right.
You’ve got to have strategies in place to deal with the stress of having to be the person in the room that has the least amount of knowledge and like within two to three weeks you have to start to become the person who has the most amount of knowledge. You have to have really good strategies in place to ramp yourself up really quickly like that if you want to if you want to do this work. So it’s it’s more difficult. And I think that in my own experience I think that most people that I’ve come across who’ve wanted to become business analysts becoming a generalist MBA is hasn’t been a good fit for them.
And so I think it takes a very specific type of person and really only you’ll know whether you have the drive to actually you know learn over and over and over again if you’ll know that whether you’re a learner or not versus whether you’re somebody who really wants very deep knowledge in one area and then they don’t want to deal with the stability of having to relearned everything on every single project. Only you really know that. And so I hope that understanding the benefits and the drawbacks of becoming a generalist B can help you to make that decision a little bit more clear. So basically take me Take what you know about yourself take what you know about the benefits and drawbacks and try to decide hey is that is the general this role the right role for me.
Typically just salary wise in most cases specialists will get paid a little bit higher than generalists as well. Now there are definitely exceptions to that. So if you’re a generalistB.A. that is contracting or you’re a consultant then in that situation you can even out the playing field a lot more with specialists. Just because the fact that you’re a good fit for so many different types of roles you can command higher salaries and because of the flexibility that you have you can command higher salaries. But if you want to be a full time permanent employee inside a company as a generalistB.A. your pay is unlikely. It’s unlikely that you’re going to make the same amount of money as the specialists who really understands like the S&P cycle. Functional consultant is typically going to make more than the generalist being in the same department just because of that knowledge that they have.
So from the salary perspective if you’re a full time employee it doesn’t it doesn’t have the benefits really it’s a you really have to have a good personality type and you have to really want to be a learner if you want to become a generalistB.A. So I hope that helps you if you haven’t already signed up for a free membership. I learned thatB.A. I’m going to suggest that you go ahead and do so. Take the first three lessons. If you’re already a business analyst those lessons are going to be pretty basic for you. But if you’re just starting to become a new business analyst and you’re trying to get into the field then those lessons are perfect for you because they’re gonna explain to you what a business analyst does and the type of activities they can take part in and the types of deliverables they’re typically expected to produce. All of that stuff is in in the free lessons. So someone suggest you go ahead and sign up for that in the next video. What I will do is I will talk to you a little bit more about the different strategies you can have. If you want to be a generalist BA.