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New Post 4/13/2010 2:51 AM
User is offline fizz
16 posts
9th Level Poster

Real world examples of BA career Progression needed (tell us about your experiences) 



I'm facing a career dilemma and want the honest, objective, brutal truth from the more experienced members of this forum.

There has been a lot of discussion on every known BA Forum/site in the universe about the career path of a BA and numerous proposals have been suggested (I say prorposals because they sound impractical and unreachable to me). These range from becoming Project Managers (easy way out, I would say...but also the path of least resistance) to the phantom non-existant roles of Business Analysis Manager. My personal PoV, and this may be a direct consequence of the limited growth opportunities in the Middle East region in general, have been shaped by the various jobs that I've held in over 7 years of working as a BA (I am what you may refer to as a career, generalist BA i.e. I started my career after university as a BA, always have been one and never specialised in any technology such as Oracle/SAP etc, though I have business domain expertise in FMCG Supply Chain and now Construction).

Listed below, by organization, are the formal titles I have held at each of the 4 organizations I have worked with and the duration I spent in each of these establishments.

1 - Org 1: Business Analyst (1.5 years)

2 - Org 2: Business Systems Analyst, promoted after 3.5 years to Application Development Supervisor (4 years)

3 - Org 3: Business Analyst (10 months, company closed down, made redundant)

4 - Org 4 (Current): IT Business Analyst (9th month running...).

What I'd like to know is, how many here have actually progressed from being a BA. Actual, real, live examples. While my post might imply that I have progressed (slight change in titles etc), the only real progress I had were going from Org 2 to Org 3, whereby I had a lot more responsibility in a much more mature, process centric organization.

Please share your career growth trends (I need the inspiration dammit!).


New Post 4/13/2010 3:02 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
5th Level Poster

Re: Real world examples of BA career Progression needed (tell us about your experiences) 


Great question!

My 'progression' was to get in to training, recruitment and research. Mind you I am now back as a regular BA doing a bit of training, writing and - to judge by my latest article - annoying on the side so there you go.

The other 'progression' is to get in to strategy - go for the big game changing pieces of analysis that answer questions like "what is the best new direction to take this company in, why and can you prove it - or at least give some compelling arguments for it". This is high risk high reward stuff...most people focus on the latter and tend to forget the former...

Nb - progression = change (not necessarily progress whatever that is unless you are measuring it by money?).

BTW - 'progressing' to be a Project Manager is like saying a bricklayer progresses to being a plumber. Different career, though they do seem to be converging under certain circumstances...

It will be really interesting to see what other suggestions you get...


New Post 4/13/2010 4:56 AM
User is offline fizz
16 posts
9th Level Poster

Re: Real world examples of BA career Progression needed (tell us about your experiences) 


Thanks for your answer. Might I ask, when you say getting into "Training, Recruitment and Research", do you imply BA (or even IT related) training/recruitment/research or at a very generic level? 

I've mentally contemplated the strategy route. You are right - it is tough and risky, but as you've said the rewards (not necessarily monetary) are sky high. I've always liked the idea of moving into a consulting firm (Anderson, Booz etc, not financial consultancy but business consultancy) but the few attempts that I've made into organizations such as these have not yielded positive results, no doubt owing to my lack of substantial experience (so far...).

I specifically singled out the PM move because really, thats what a lot of people have been doing here. In fact, its almost considered a privilege to jump the wagon, not only because of how lucrative certifications such as PMP are in this part of the world, but also because the role of a PM is more mature, more defined and therefore better understood by a majority of organizations.

Lets see what the others have to say.

New Post 4/13/2010 11:27 AM
User is offline John Evanoff
2 posts
No Ranking

Re: Real world examples of BA career Progression needed (tell us about your experiences) 


I have been a BA for over 15 years, and I face a similar situation.  I need to show some career advancement.  For me, much of this need is just about the money.  However, doing the same thing over and over again gets repetitive.  I too have become a generalist, skilled in many different software packages but not an expert in any one.  Consequently, I have had many lateral moves and only a few promotions (which didn't change my responsibilities - just my title and salary).

Here are some possible career paths:

Business Analyst -> Sr. Business Analyst -> Lead Business Analyst (the obvious path, with some additional money and responsibility but not much more)

Product manager - In a software company, a BA can move into the role of product manager.  Since this is a very non-technical role, it is a good fit.

Software architect - Many of the SA and BA skills overlap.  This role focuses more on the functional software design than the "business" requirements.  As an architect, though, you will be expected to understand a lot of technologies and platforms that Software Developers have a better grasp of.  For example, you may need to know application servers, database servers, messaging platforms, etc.  Software architect suffers from the same issue as business analyst.  Where does this career lead?

Into the business - If you work closely with a certain functional group, you may move into a position doing whatever it is this group does.  This leads to a "doing what the business needs" role instead of a "supporting the processes that do what the business needs".  In other words, get out while you can.

Specialist of a technology or product - Find a technology or software platform and become the expert on it. If you use a certain supply chain software, become the expert on it.  If you like business intelligence, learn a BI tool (all of which are geared towards very technical BAs - not programmers).  Assuming these areas have teams to support larger processes or packages, you can become a lead or manager.  This will not be a role where all you do is manage others.  "Manager" means you keep doing, but you also have (more junior) people reporting to you.  It means a lot more money.  This can lead to further career advancement to the point where you no longer actually "do".   The key to this is to select an area of expertise which allows you to build a staff.  You can't pick a niche product/technology that leads to a team of one.

Specialist in a business function - Same general ideas as above but supporting a specific function.  In your case, it could be supply chain.  That domain expertise can lead to a role managing the software side of the business function regardless of the package or packages used.   Your value is in understanding the domain problem and interfacing with subordinates (programmers and/or analysts) who know the software side of it.  I have seen someone move from analyst to Sr. Director along this path.


New Post 4/13/2010 4:56 PM
User is offline Kimbo
454 posts
5th Level Poster

Re: Real world examples of BA career Progression needed (tell us about your experiences) 

 Hi Fizz,

Another possible career move is to Business Architect. Check it out on wikipedia

Most companies don't have that role so you may need to invent it where you are.

That's where I'm personally trying to get.


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