Thursday, April 16, 2009

Business Analyst Career Path 2.0

This is in continuation and a add on of my earlier post on Career path for business analyst. I strongly believe Career is like your Portfolio of investments and like the way you regularly keep a tab and  re balance  your portfolio, even a career requires the same amount of examination of your skill sets so that you can maximize your returns from your career and reward yourself.

With the Recession season around you will also agree with me when I say that now there is no concept of ideal employer where in you stay for ages and retire there. This post is my endeavor to make you look at the possible opportunities available and also to move you out of your comfort zone and take up the challenges.

To give wider perspective to the readers, a BA can see himself working in 4 types of organizations Check Post, experience of working in all types of organizations performing different types of role will add advantage and will help to see yourself moving in your career with clear defined milestones.

IT Business Analyst

As a Business Analyst in his/her first few years of BA career should work in these 3 major types of organization.

  1. IT services Org.
  2. Product Org.
  3. Client Org.

A BA should look forward for adding following skill sets for a span of 5-7 years

  1. IT services Org.  –  BA Responsibilities, Domain Knowledge , Client Knowledge , Pre Sales
  2. Product Org.  - BA Responsibilities, Domain Knowledge , Sales Knowledge,  Product Designing,
  3. Client Org. -  BA Responsibilities , Domain Knowledge , Client Knowledge

Sales/BD Role

In fact it is also recommended to take up Sales/BD role for some time in IT Services/Product co. BA knowledge is limited to giving solution for the detailed requirements (mostly in an IT services Org.) However, Sales knowledge will help you hone your skill sets in targeting, convincing and selling them the solution to the client.


As said earlier you need to be smart enough  and rebalance your portfolio of your skill sets  from time to time , since each organization works differently  going forward  these skill sets will help you to see yourself in leadership roles.

Sr. /Lead BA /SME

As a BA when you move ahead you can see yourself in   Sr. /Lead BA or a Subject Matter Expert (SME) role.  Remember Responsibilities is just a mean of achieving an objective, by this time it is expected you learn lot of Product and Domain knowledge.  In Later years after having sales experience it’s advisable you stay for some time in Client Org. You will actively help Sales team with solution approach and more information for client presentations.

Process Consulting

After adding lot of domain knowledge it’s wise to diversify in terms of responsibilities by adding supporting knowledge around a domain  (at least for 3-5 years )

For example

1.       Processes knowledge – Six Sigma, ITIL and CMMI (can be made use in IT /Product Org.)

2.       Regulatory /Compliance  -  Eg: SEPA, BASEL 2, SWIFT (from banking  can be used in banks and IT Org)

3.       Framework knowledge

Having done all this you can take up Business Process Re-Engineering work, help clients decide on the best practices, Improve their Business functions by providing them with valuable inputs and helping them making the best use of the Technology.


Remember it’s your career and you are sole responsible how you shape your career.  I strongly believe in adding value to one Resume no matter how the market is. Staying at one place for ages i.e. in a comfort zone can become a liability during a recession where in you will get stuck at one place or you end up taking pink slip.  Although Pink slip is not so common for BA’s as they will always remain Asset for any project/ product,  but one also need to remember  that you are  at mercy of your Client, if the clients pulls away his contract you can become scape goat  and end up taking Pink slip. So my advice is to diversify and constantly keep adding skill sets and different product knowledge of a Domain to your   Resume.

From here you should take up these roles

1. Product Management

I assume that you have got solid domain knowledge by this time having experience on different products of a solution segment, here from a SME role you will move to Product Manager role where in you constantly talk to clients and in house Sales team which will help you to build vision about your product and also will help build strategies where you want to take this product. Along with in-house research which you and BA’s under you would be doing. You will give inputs to your BA’s who will refine these requirements and see to it that they are incorporated.   Here you will also publish papers, case studies for the organization and give interviews about the future of the product with the changing market dynamics.

2. Vendor Management

Having seen you taking requirements, giving solution to the requirements, and little bit touch on Sales with solid product and process knowledge it would be a very good career move to take up vendor management role in a Client Org. This role will require you to identify the need of the business and help them in choosing the right S/w Product. This role would require to float RFI/RFP’s  check the bids made by the IT co.’s  Since you also have Sales knowledge here you would like to hear from the solutions team(BA’s from Sales Org.)  who actually understand the product. Sales team will arrange a demo and BA’s/SME and Tech architects will present the solution. Now It would be in your hands to whom you award projects. Here you will be continuously interacting with CIO, CTO’s of different organizations from here you will build solid rapport with the Industry Veterans which will help you move ahead in your career.

From here you may end up moving to Consulting Role or CTO role or maybe both in a sequential manner

1. Consulting

Spending some of the best years in the industry by adding experience in different stages of a complete cycle of BA to Vendor management. You can help Product Co.’s , IT Services Co. as well as Business/Client Org. to help them with their needs as a freelancer. This might be a contractual work but you are not bound to be an employer of any one org. You are in more demanding position as you have solid industry experience and can do contractual work and making lot of money.

You can also end up moving to Consulting Organizations like McKinsey, PWC. Or Research Companies like Gartner, Forrester  and then you may end up moving in to Investment Bank/Private Equity firm (assuming you understand market dynamics, also understand how this industry works)  helping their client by  advising on M&A activities and lead their business units with your knowledge.

2. CTO

Yes the company may promote you to be the face of the organization in a IT Services co.  Or you can become a CTO for a Business/Client Org. laying road maps for the future IT needs of the Organization. From here you may move to board members or probably see yourself as a CEO :)

Conclusion:-  This was just a model career path, you are free to use it the way you want.I would suggest every one to  Constantly monitor market and your skill sets and see how you can add value to it.  Comfort zone can kill your career.  Have a clear goal of what you want and decide on the milestones to decide on how to shape this . At the same time, don’t be so rigid with what you have in your mind. Take up challenges as and when they come and see how you can make the best use of it.

Hope my 2nd post on Career path makes more sense just the way 1st post did :)

Please feel free to drop in your comments, Your questions and experience can help me to give more clarity to the readers to choose the BA career and decide up on the future career milestones and see themselves adding value !!

Also Read ::
  1. Career Track for business analyst
  2. Business Analyst Resources all @ once place