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Career choices for a Business Analyst – What Options does a BA Have?

Business Analyst is a great profile to begin your professional journey with and has always been a popular choice for IT and management graduates alike.

The definitions for Business Analysis & Business Analyst as per IIBA’s BABOK® guide (considered as the Bible for Business Analysis) are as follows:-
Business Analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.

A Business Analyst is any person who performs business analysis activities, no matter what their job title or organizational role may be. Business analysis practitioners include not only people with the job title of business analyst, but may also include business systems analysts, systems analysts, requirements engineers, process analysts, product managers, product owners, enterprise analysts, business architects, management consultants, or any other person who performs the tasks described in the BABOK® Guide, including those who also perform related disciplines such as project management, software development, quality assurance, and interaction design.

When it comes to advancing in career, sky is the limit. However, this article lists down the career choices one can logically look forward to after working as a business analyst:

1. Consultant/SME rolling up to a Solution architect role or a pre-sales consultant:

  1. Being a Consultant/ SME (Subject Matter Expert), you should be a specialist in your particular domain/technology. This is suitable for someone who has a specific interest in a domain/technology and wishes to be a master of one rather than being a jack of all.
  2. Being a solution architect, you would need to understand the linkage between the various systems and then be responsible to approve/reject/suggest technical changes to the systems.
  3. Being a Pre-sales consultant, you would be expected to know your product and it’s capabilities. Your primary job is to support the sales team who are trying to sell your company’s product. This would be the case if you are a vendor side Pre-sales consultant. Likewise, you can also be the client side Pre-sales BA. Following are the differences in the two roles:-

As a Client Side Pre-sales BA, you are supposed to

  • Create RFP/RFI
  • Raise the right kind of queries related to the service you seek from the vendor whose product you intend to buy/use 
  • Respond to RFP/RFI

As a Vendor Side Pre-sales BA, you are supposed to <

  • Manage the queries of the client related to your product

2. Product Manager:

You would take the calls about how the product should evolve. Help in creating a roadmap for the product. You would have to collaborate with the different stakeholders to understand their latent needs. At the same you would have to keep an eye on the competition.

3. Lead Business Analyst / Project manager/PMO:

These roles are about understanding the bigger picture.

  1. Lead Business Analyst: You would be having responsibility of either managing a team or a module.
    You would be mentoring your team of business analysts to help them do better business analysis, leading from the front.
    In this role, you would be accountable for the deliverables your team creates but not necessarily responsible for creating them yourself.
  2. Project Manager: Business Analysis is a subset of Project Management. As a Project Manager, you would be managing teams, streamlining processes, growing towards more of a management profile. Here the responsibility is end to end delivery of the project, leading towards career path of a program manager, portfolio manager, etc.
  3. PMO: You would be responsible for governance of the projects, programs or portfolios. Also depending on the PMO type followed by the organization, the level of authority and responsibility would change. In some companies you would be expected to lead/ drive the project (Directive PMO), whereas in some you would only have a supporting role (Supportive PMO) or somewhere in between (Controlling PMO).

4. ITIL operations process specific roles:

These are roles as defined in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library. The BA can transition into any of the following process roles responsible for managing respective functions:

  1. Incident Manager: The Incident Manager is responsible for the effective implementation of the Incident Management process and carries out the corresponding reporting
  2. Problem Manager: The Problem Manager is responsible for managing the lifecycle of all Problems. His primary objectives are to prevent Incidents from happening, and to minimize the impact of Incidents that cannot be prevented
  3. Business Relationship Manager: The Business Relationship Manager is responsible for maintaining a positive relationship with customers, identifying customer needs and ensuring that the service provider is able to meet these needs with an appropriate catalogue of services
  4. Service Design Manager: The Service Design Manager is responsible for producing quality, secure and resilient designs for new or improved services.
  5. Release Manager: The Release Manager is responsible for planning and controlling the movement of Releases to test and live environments.
  6. Information Security Manager: The Information Security Manager is responsible for ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of an organization’s assets, information, data and IT services. He/She would have to do a continual gap analysis of the system’s security depending on the on-going customization the product


5. Agile/Scrum Team related roles:

A Business Analyst can also slip in to the shoes of Scrum Master/Product Owner/Development team member:

  1. Scrum Master ensures that Scrum is understood and enacted by the team.
  2. Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the development team
  3. Development Team Member is responsible for helping the team come up with a shippable product at the end of each iteration aka Sprint.

6. Quality Assurance & Control

Having a strong knowledge of product as well as processes, moving into a Quality Assurance/Control would be an easy transition for a Business Analyst.

  1. Quality Assurance ensures that the processes are being followed and highlight/escalate deviations to the Project manager
  2. Quality Control ensures that the product being delivered is defect free. Hence, it would involve manual/automated testing. Business Analyst can use his/her functional knowledge of the product and business acumen, to design better test cases and envisage a myriad of scenarios

As mentioned earlier, sky is the limit to advance your career in any direction. The above career paths are just for your reference. I hope this article was able to help you broaden your horizon.

Wishing you all the best for a bright career!