Friday, June 13, 2008

Business Analyst Career Path

Click on the image for a better view
This article would definitely raise eyebrows of BA’s who are already in the industry and will have different opinions on it. However the idea behind writing the article is to make aware the BA’s and BA’s aspirants at what are the possible milestones to be achieved while progressing in your career ladder.

When I shared this image with my fellow colleagues and dear friends who are BA’s they had a different opinions altogether which helped me to rethink and refine it. Some of them also insisted to add Project management as one of the milestones but some how I didn’t agree with this. The reason I believe is that a BA always work independently in the assignments and is just a facilitator/mentor to the Project team, he can give directions how the things should move but actual project management is done by a Project Manager who specializes in work allocation, setting deadlines, monitoring, people management etc. This is something I do not think would go along with BA as he himself has many responsibilities to be carried. But in US they have a dedicated BA manager whose job is to mentor and allocate work to their BA’s. And in India this is generally done by Delivery manager.

This slightly went out of the topic, now I will start touching up on each Rounded Rectangle box which you see in the image (above).

MBA’s – A Fresh MBA Pass out with or without prior experience are being hired these days for the Role of a BA from B-Schools. They are easy to be groomed in lines of domain, application/product, a complete SDLC cycle and most importantly to build patience :-) for a long one year. For Most of the year they are even asked to do testing and this makes sense. You can’t gather requirements if you have no clarity on how a product comes to shape. And for testing looking at requirements doc is important and that’s where a BA starts learning about the contents of Business Requirement Specification (BRS), Software/Functional Requirement Specification (SRS/FRS) and Functional Design Document (FDD).

Developers/Testers- Tired of coding and testing the product/application and looking for a role shift you do stand a good chance to move, infact testers can move quickly in BA stream as they understand the application better than anybody else. The best part of a Developer/Tester is that they bring along with them the fantastic knowledge of SDLC. This definitely helps them for Effort estimation, test cases, test plan etc which is required in BA role.

IT Business Analyst – Finally you got what you wanted, moving in to BA role. I have personally seen many people in IT industry that are desperate to move in to BA role. Ask them why you want to move? One answer you will get I don’t want to do this monotonous job of coding/testing/Analytics I can’t do this and most important I don’t want to do this. BA gives challenging work requirement gathering and all… well that’s all true but it’s also important that you understand the importance of this role the responsibilities played by BA and plan your career accordingly. These decisions should be taken wisely by understanding the pros and cons of the career. Well now coming to the point for which I started this blog. I will try to touch up on each role which you “can” perform while moving in your career.

Mean while read the responsibilities played by a BA.

  1. Study the As Is Business processes

  2. Propose the change or reengineering of the As Is Business processes if need be.

  3. Study the Individual systems in the business processes

  4. Build the project scope

  5. Understanding the Business requirements.

  6. propose high level solution for those requirements

  7. Gather the business requirements and capture those using UML Standard Use cases and model the business process using activity diagrams which are object oriented equivalents of flow charts.

  8. Discuss with project tech lead and Prepare high level design documents.

  9. Help project team prepare detailed level design documents.

  10. Prepare Functional Specification document.

  11. Prepare System Specification documents with the help of technical lead of the project.

  12. Prepare Interface and other architectural documents needed for project.

  13. Act as a point of contact for business users from project team.

  14. Act as a domain expert and help project team understand the business requirements and clarify all their doubts as and when needed.

  15. Act as a catalyst and middleman in between both business users and the project team.

  16. Help project team and the testing team by doing functionality testing post configuration / development stage.

Sr/Lead BA- As your progress in your career, responsibilities here would be more or like same as you would have started as a fresh BA, however what you should gain here is domain expertise to distinguish yourself with other BA’s .You are expected to do your assignments more smartly and effectively, a BA would also get involved in pre sales giving valuable inputs to Sales team. From here some may also move to some challenging roles like Sales/BD as you will have good knowledge of industry, the markets, kind of applications built and used by businesses and the potential clients.

SME/Business Process Consultant – with vast knowledge on a single domain over a period of time with lead you to take up Subject Matter Expert (SME) role. This role would deal with clients to understand their area of business and giving valuable inputs to client as well as to the self organization for making decisions. Or further you can move to Process consultant role where in you would be responsible for Business Process Re-Engineering i.e. to identify and analyze current business and propose changes which would benefit the organization in performing their operations, tasks etc in a given cost without compromising on quality

Business Account Manager – You have done lot of work for the client representing your current IT organization. Now you have perfect knowledge of IT organization side, now it makes sense if you move to clients place and act as Vendor evaluator and selector which would make use of these technologies for the respective business operations. This way you will be able to select correct software application with respect to the requirements by business, efforts involved for building/customizing the software, Probable cost which would help senior management to prepare the budget and timelines for the product and at the end evaluating and selecting a vendor to complete the project.

Consulting - With a career span of 15 years seeing both side of the world i.e. IT organization (Vendor) and Client (Business), having solid knowledge of diversified roles played over a period of time, you can see your self as a “Guru” and you can take up consulting role either independently or by joining big consulting firms like Mckinsey, PWC , etc .

From here there would be another journey, with different milestones, challenges which is waiting for you….:)

Will keep adding new points to this article as an when I get more inputs. Mean while would appreciate if you can come up with your views, queries, opinions on the same.

Also See BA Careerpath2.0


  1. Hi There, I think it's a really good document listing out Career Path Opportunities for BA's. Certainly gives me a perspective.

    One question I do have though. Is it always better to be specialized in a particular domain as a BA or be a general BA.

  2. Bharat,

    If you wish to see you self in a process consultant or Subject matter expert role then it is advisable that you restrict yourself to one or 2 domain areas.

  3. Thank you so much for this post..

    I'm really thinking if it would be a wise choice to shift to a Business Analysis Career after 1) Working as a university teacher, 2) working as a software developer and 3) working in our family business.

    I have a dream of becoming a Business Consultant. :D

  4. Hi Geetesh,

    Thank you so very much for this article. I am a developer on AS/400platform and want to switch to BA. Could you guide me as to how should I go about switching. Do I need to pursue any kind of training?


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