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New Post 11/22/2013 8:30 AM
User is offline Emmad
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How to become a BA 

Hi everyone i was wondering if someone could give me some career advice. I am looking to become a BA I have a BA Hons Degree in Buisness Studies and a Msc in Interntaional Business. I am currently working as a Accounts administrator, due to the economy I havent been able to achieve my goal as yet but i am very lucky to have a job. If someone could give me advice on how to get in to this career and would my Masters and degree to date allow me to move into this job.

Thanks Everyone

 
New Post 11/26/2013 6:09 AM
User is offline garytan
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Re: How to become a BA 

Hi Emmad

Thanks for the question - I'll try to help out where I can. It seems to me you're really interested in getting a role as a Business Analyst and that's great.

 

To me, I'm an ardent supporter of the Business Analyst profession. To me, BAs have not been given as much attention out there as more "established" roles like Project Managers. I hope to help more folks understand and get into the profession.

 

Let's run through a couple of points in the following:

- Why being a BA is great

- Understanding what a BA is

- How to become a BA

 

1. Why Being a BA is Great

I play the role of a BA in a management consulting firm and I'm happy to be able to work with great clients, in great projects and always challenge my mind in terms of topics / issues to analyze. I've been in this line for more than 12 years, more as a system BA, helping to gather requirements and re-engineer processes for clients in banking and insurance here in Southeast Asia.

 

Over the years, I've found that being a BA has helped to increase my confidence and presentation skills, enabled me to analyze issues using structured methodologies, as well as expand my network of business associates and clients. It's great stuff and I'm thankful I have such a day job.

 

2. Understand What A BA Is

The first thing I'd like to explain to you is that there are many types of BAs. Before you go ahead and quit your job or jump into a BA role, think about what kind of BA you want to be.

 

Now, tTo me, there are different BAs out there, depending on (1) their solution area and (2) their industry.

 

In terms of solution area, a BA usually focuses on one of two things, i.e.

  • A "Strategy BA" who focuses on general strategy, competitive analysis, operating models and business case construction. This kind of BA typically works for strategy houses like McKinsey, Bain & Co or The Boston Consulting Group.
  • A "System BA" who helps implement IT or system solutions, e.g. a new core banking system or a trading system. A BA in these roles typically gathers system requirements from users, documents them in functional specifications (or use cases) and later gets involved in testing of the system. Usually, a BA who has implemented a system solution might also be deeply familiar with it, e.g. some BAs are experts in core banking software solutions like Temenos or Avaloq.

In terms of industry, a BA could choose to concentrate on a particular industry, e.g. healthcare, banking, insurance, government.

  • He or she picks up domain knowledge and is the "go-to" person when it comes to industry knowledge.
  • For example, in a bank strategy transformation project, other project team members may come to the BA to ask about exactly how a derivative trade is processed and settled in the bank.
  • Also, it’s highly unusual for a BA to have more than two industry focus areas. For example, I have knowledge in banking and insurance but not others.

Having understood what a BA is, you should decide for yourself what your solution area should be, and what your industry focus is. Interviewers will tend to ask you these questions and it’d be good for you to be prepared.

 

3. How To Become A BA

I’ve got many pieces of advice on how to become a BA. I’ll go through some of them now.

 

Try not to leave your current job. The first thing I suggest is that you should look for a BA role within your existing company. Try not to leave your job, thinking that a BA role is “out there”, with another company. Since you’re an Accounts Administrator, are there Finance related projects (e.g. finance transformation, payroll accounting, finance data analysis) going on in your current firm that you can attempt to get into? Check that avenue first before thinking of leaving your job.

 

Tap on your network. I’ve been in your situation before - I was once an IT developer type of person, but managed to make the transition over to a BA role. That was more than a decade ago.

 

One of the important lessons I learnt was that you should tap on your network. Trying to apply for a BA job or role “cold”, i.e. just approaching a company without any referral or without knowing anyone inside - usually has a much lower success rate. Try to check if you know someone, preferably in your existing company, who has a need for BAs, or knows someone looking to hire BAs. Ask this person to put in a word for you and you’ll be amazed - a small referral like this significantly increases your chances of landing a BA role.

 

Some industries need BAs more than others. When I read your question, I also wondered which industry you’re currently working in. The truth is, some industries like banking and insurance usually need more BAs than others. Why? It’s simply because they run a lot more projects (both strategic and system projects) and have huge resource and personnel requirements. If you’re applying for a BA job role, try to aim for one of these industries, you’ll find you’ll have a much larger variety of BA roles to choose from.

 

Get BA related education. Another important thing you can do to become a BA is to educate yourself. The most popular choice for many people is to do an MBA degree. The most prestigious MBA degree holders (e.g. from Harvard or Wharton) will have management consulting firms beating a path to their door to hire them as senior BAs, or ”Senior Consultants” as most of these firms term them. But do take note that MBA degrees do not come cheap - and these days, there’s a lot of evidence that a person the Return-on-Investment (ROI) of a MBA degree is actually going down. So do consider carefully before you put your life savings into a MBA degree. It is certainly not a MUST that you get a MBA to get into a BA job role. I don’t have a MBA myself and I think I function very, very well as a BA in my current management consulting role.

 

Another common trend these days is to go for an online BA course, e.g. the Institute of Business Analysts has some great resources on becoming “BA certified”. I’d encourage you to go on this path to study and understand some of the basic skills a BA needs (e.g. communication, presentation, business analysis and system skills)

 

Help out in system projects. Another smart tip I have for you to land a BA role is to get into system projects. To be honest with you, there is ALWAYS some kind system project going on in firms (especially in banks and insurance companies). Try to get into these projects and play the role of a BA or tester. I’ve seen many folks who get into a system project as a software tester and later become a BA in the next project. A tester in fact has many skills in common with a BA (the need to analyze issues and understand root causes, etc.).

 

Become a solution expert. Yet another way to become a BA is to get very good in a solution. For example, one of the key trends I see in the market now is the explosive demand for business intelligence BAs. These people know how to do “data mining” - derive patterns from data to predict future behavior of customers, identify potential fraud and manage risk. Of course, it’s not easy to just become a business intelligence solution expert. However, if you already have business intelligence background, for example, then it may make sense to enhance and leverage that knowledge to eventually get into a related BA role.

 

I hope the above helps you out. If you have more questions, feel free to pass me a message. I’ll try to help you best I can!

 
New Post 6/15/2014 11:47 PM
User is offline Mani
1 posts
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From Application developer to BA 

I am an application developer and have good experience working in all the phases of development cycle.

> Interacting with the BA's to understand business requirement. 

>Preparing high level design solutions, 

> estimating the effort, 

>development

> Testing

> Implementation

> Post production verification.

Now I feel stagnated in doing the same thing and I am more interested towards the business analyst role as they are the one who drive the IT team.

How can I make this transition towards business analyst.

The problem is that I have worked in different domains like Insurance - 4 years, Banking and finance - 3 years, retail - 2 years.

Hence as such I am not great with any particular domain.

What path Should I follow?? Shall I try to deepen my knowledge of some particular domain ( Say banking ? ) and then try to be a BA in that domain.

Or I should try to learn the various BA tools and techniques ( Use Cases, UML , BPM etc)

Please advice

 
New Post 7/1/2014 8:18 PM
User is offline Kiran
1 posts
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Re: How to become a BA 

Hi Garytan,

I really appreciate the detail and your response to Emmad.  I too am in a familiar situation.  I have an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management with a background in HR/Marketing, however, I don't seem to be getting any interest thus far from my applications.  I have applied to jr analyst roles as well.  I have also taken a few BA courses offered from Udemy and have recently joined some BA groups in Linkedin.  From what you have explained in your post I would be more interested in "strategy", though I do have a good tech background.  Is it possible we can connect on Linkedin? Thanks again for all your suggestions.

Be Well,

Kiran

 
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