I’ll tell you right upfront, what I’ve written here might offend some Business Analysts out there.
If that happens to you, feel free to message me and we can talk it through.
There are three broad “levels of BA competence” you need to understand before building your BA career path.
It’s important for you to identify where you fall on this spectrum before you can figure out where you want to go with your career.
Level 1: The Scribe
This type of BA acts more as a “messenger” or “scribe” than as an analyst. This person does no investigation to separate out customer wants from customer needs, does very little negotiation to find the best bang for the company buck, applies very little real analysis or systems thinking to describe their solutions, and typically has little knowledge of the business or the systems involved.
The companies that hire these types of BAs have very low expectations of them (the compensation offered usually reflects this), and the BAs are comfortable staying in their current situations as long as they’re fulfilling those low expectations. It’s not uncommon to hear them say “that’s not my job” as a response to issues that are raised, and it’s not uncommon for their companies to accept that as a legitimate response.
It’s a symbiotic relationship, but it won’t last.
If the promise of Artificial Intelligence ever materializes, we can kiss all these jobs goodbye. If someone’s doing mindless robotic work, then they shouldn’t be surprised when an actual robot eventually takes their place.
If you’re not this type of BA but feel trapped with this type of employer, then it’s time to show them what a BA should really be doing. If that doesn’t work, then start planning your escape.
Level 2: The Seasoned Executor
You’re very good at understanding software, and you know how to help the business folks sort out their operational issues. You intentionally blur the lines between what it means to be a BA, and what it means to be a BSA; you do this because you’re willing and capable of doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
You know that your customers see their world in varying shades of grey, while your tech team needs things to be black-and-white. You’ve mastered the skills you need to translate between these two different groups through your Requirements & Specifications. It’s taken you some time to get here, but you’ve finally figured out how to bridge these two worlds by describing your solutions in a way that both sides can understand and use.
Your employer sees you as a critical piece of the company’s operations puzzle. They expect you to deliver real value, and you do.
Level 3: The Trusted Adviser / Business Architect
You’ve built up deep intelligence about the structure and operations of the business, and about the external conditions your company faces (e.g. competitor strengths/weaknesses, regulatory authorities, market structure etc.)
So much so, that the Sr. Management of the company now turns to you for advice when they need to roll out a large new strategic initiative, or when they need to fix deep structural problems inside their business.
You think deeply about the issues, and you lead your team into implementation with efficiency and precision when the time comes; all the while making it look like a walk in the park.
Where are you?
These are three points on a spectrum. Most BAs fall somewhere in between these 3 points. The important thing to understand here is that you need to know where you are before you can figure out where to go.
An honest self-assessment and a critical look at your company’s expectations of you will help you figure out where you are.
- If you’re comfortable being a type #1 BA, then you may have some unwelcome surprises waiting for you in the near future. Your employer won’t hesitate to replace one robot with another if it’s in their best interest to do so. And you can’t blame them for that. If you feel like you’re a type #2 but are trapped in a bad relationship, then you have to either shake things up or move onto greener pastures.
- If you’re interested in becoming a type#2 BA, then I can help. Consider looking at the training program that I’m currently building. Sign up with your email and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.
- If you’ve put in the time and done the hard work to become a type #3 BA, then I congratulate you. You’ve transcended to the role of Business Architect. It’s not an easy position to get into, or to stay in. Kudos to you.