One giant leap: From a Business Analyst in the Public Sector to IT Consultant

May 28, 2018
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This post describes my transition from working as a BA in a large, public sector organisation to an IT consultancy, the challenges I faced and some helpful tips if you find your BA career at a bit of a crossroads. 

Are you, or have you been in a situation where you feel that your career as a BA is a bit ‘on hold’? Could be that you found yourself on a project where the BA role is misunderstood so you’re just managing risk logs (for example). Or your service is in Beta with very little product development going on and you’re actually a service manager responding to issues from users?

I was in a similar position and as a civil servant for 14 years, with the last 5 as a Business Analyst, the decision to move to an IT consultancy was a big one. No, change that, it was huge! 


One giant leap….

When I was first approached via a message on LinkedIn, I was apprehensive to say the least. After all, working for the same organisation for 14 years puts you in a comfort zone. After a few conversations and weighing up my current situation as a BA, I thought ‘what the hell, it’s worth a look if nothing else’. I felt I had nothing to lose. 

One conversation led to another and within the space of three weeks, I’d left the organisation I had been part of for a significant portion of my working life and had become a BA for an IT consultancy. I hadn’t considered moving away from my role in the public sector before but after employing some BA techniques such as SWOT analysis (on myself), evaluating options available to me and risk analysis, I was able to come to a decision I believed would allow me to fulfill my ambitions as a BA.  

 

Fate?

Do you believe things happen for a reason and that fate plays a part in some of the important events in your life? 

I certainly do and believe this was one of those very occasions that fate played a big part in my decision. First of all, I was able to speak to people who had not only heard of the consultancy, but had either recently worked for, or were currently employed by them. The biggest single consideration I had was the fact I would be leaving a very secure job for a potentially less secure one. Of course no one can predict the future but from the people I spoke to, the company was secure and was growing. A good sign. 

Here’s my first tip: If you are approached by a firm or you are thinking of working for another organisation, do your homework on them. After all, you’re a BA right? So employ some of those BA tools and techniques to understand the organisation. What is their mission? How important do they view their staff? Do they have a revolving door with high staff turnover? Think about what you want out of your career as a BA and whether that company can help you get there.  


Don’t underestimate your skills

One of the questions I had was, ‘am I good enough to be a consultant?’. Big question right? And how do you actually know? You might get feedback from your line manager but if they’re not a BA, or one with not enough experience and knowledge as you (believe me, this happens often in a grade-based organisation), then their appraisal of your performance means very little. If you want meaningful feedback, get it from your scrum team. After all, they will be appraising your performance every sprint. In other words, if they’re not happy with your performance, they will let you know. Working in a scrum team is about open and honest conversations and that includes if you’re not hitting the mark (and vice versa).

Another thing you can do is carry out a SWOT analysis on yourself. Give yourself an honest appraisal of your skills and where you might need to improve. It will also help you in reaching a decision to whether to move on or not. Here’s my SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths
    • Experience as a Business Analyst
    • Experience working in a scrum team
    • Active in BA Community
  • Weaknesses
    • No recognized BA qualifications
    • Hadn’t worked in private/commercial sector as a BA
    • Had not practiced full range of BA techniques
  • Opportunities
    • Specialize as a BA 
    • Work with BAs from different backgrounds 
    • Work in different agile frameworks \
  • Threats
    • Job security
    • Downturn in market for Business Analysts

Carrying out a SWOT analysis allows you articulate what you believe are your strengths and more importantly, what your weaknesses are and can be worked on. It also allows you to evaluate the organisation you might be moving to and the risks associated with it. You’ll see I’ve identified only 2 threats because as far as I was concerned, these were the only things out of my control. I felt that as I had the opportunity to specialize as a BA, I would make sure I was able to build on my strengths and work on my weaknesses. And at the same time maximizing the opportunities. 

My next tip: if you are committed to being a great BA, be aware of your weaknesses and work on them to turn them in to strengths. And constantly evaluate them. Don’t become a BA who says they have 10 years’ experience as a BA when you’ve actually got 1 years’ experience repeated 10 times.

 

And finally…. 

If, like me, you find yourself at a bit of a crossroads in your BA career and you’re not sure what to do, don’t settle for the status quo. The only person who loses out is you. Evaluate yourself, get feedback from others and strive to be a better Business Analyst. There’s so much information out there for you to tap in to, so make the most of it. 

It’s a rewarding career as a BA and a role that is highly sought after in the business world. Don’t let your current circumstances stop you from being a great BA, if that’s what you want to be. If it takes a leap of faith to join a consultancy or another organisation, then weigh up your options and go for it. After all, fortune favors the brave. 


AuthorNick Stowers,  Business Analyst

As a BA for nearly 5 years now, I’ve come to realise the role of the BA is still misunderstood in business and I hope to provide readers with insights how a BA brings value to organisations that are using an Agile framework to deliver their products and services.  I want to inspire current and future Business Analysts that they are the cornerstone of project teams to deliver products and services that are focused on the user and bring creativity, innovation and value to people. 

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May 28, 2018
1425 Views
1 Comments
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COMMENTS

lkherzog posted on Thursday, June 7, 2018 1:47 PM
Several years ago I made the same leap although mine was from a corporation to a consulting company. It has definitely been worth it for the experiences I've had, information I've learned and people I've met. I've also moved to different consulting companies. The first time I changed was, as you mentioned, scary and uncertain. I told the recruiter it was like when you were a kid and wanting to go off the high dive at the pool - wanting to but also scared. So you take those first steps to check it out (climb the steps to the top), understand what's involved (looking down at the pool) and then having to decide which way to go (jump or go back down the steps). Sometimes it's best to jump and others it's best not to jump.
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