Are you looking for a career in business analysis? Well, then you need to know the career paths of business analysts. Even though most of the companies have career paths designed for every job description, we will see the typical career paths of a business analyst in an organization.
Business Analysts play an important role in an organization and they don’t stick to the IT department of a project but also work across other departments like finance, marketing, HR, etc. Jumping into the business analyst profession could sound cool but what’s next for you after several years working in the BA profession?
Let’s try to understand the typical high-level work that every business analyst does in an organization. You will find a business analyst doing the following activities in an organization;
- Requirement elicitation
- Requirement Documentation, process designing, mock-up creation, etc.
- Identifying opportunities for improvement in business operations and processes
- Managing communication
- Doing impact analysis, risks assessment, GAP analysis, Process modeling, etc.
- End-user training, project sign-offs.
- Post-implementation support.
Let’s eliminate the confusion about the business analyst career paths and list down the opportunities that exists for a Business Analyst after spending several years in the job.
Career Paths For The Business Analysts
1. Entry Level or Junior Business Analyst
Every BA professional has to start with an entry-level or junior-level business analyst positions if they don’t have any prior working experience as a business analyst. Business analysts job is not that easy as it sounds to many people. It requires a lot of interpersonal skills and strong strong domain knowledge to succeed.
It could be very challenging for someone who doesn’t have prior experience in the BA field. However, companies expectation from an entry-level business analyst is not high and it is expected that a junior BA or entry-level BA has enough theoretical knowledge and awareness about the business analyst concept.
Even though the company do not look for the prior experience in the BA field, the following skills are required in an Entry Level Business analysts
- Analytical skills
- Good verbal and written communication skills
- Business analysis basics
- Problem-solving skills
- Abilities to facilitate meetings
A business analyst has an added advantages if he/she has an entry-level business analyst certifications or have had done business analysis work during the internship.
2. Business Analysts
As you gain experience in a business analyst role, expectation from you increases. Mid-level business analysts expected to have deeper knowledge of the business environment they are working in. Also, business analysts will have an enhanced level of analysis and analytical techniques.
Usually, a profession in a business analyst role will have 5-7 years of experience in the business analyst profession. They will have a mature approach to business analysis techniques.
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A mid-level business analyst will be capable enough to manage a project independently. They might be involved and working on multiple projects at the same time. A mid-level business analyst must exhibit the following skills;
- Business SME i.e. Subject Matter Expert
- Leadership skills
- Action Oriented
- Decision making with little or no support
- Problem-solving skills
- Strong Time management
- Expert in multitasking
Of course, mid-level business analysts will also possess all other skills that an entry-level business analyst has.
3. Senior Business Analyst
Becoming a senior business analyst is different than becoming a senior developer. It takes 8-10 years of working experience in business analysis and a deeper understanding of the tools and techniques used in business analysis.
Apart from the business analyst’s skills mentioned in the above two roles, you will find a senior business analyst mentoring other business analysts, improving the current practices, strong problem-solving abilities.
A senior business will exhibit a high degree of professionalism and can easily balance the strategic vision of the organization with the day to day operations (or projects). A senior-level business analyst should have the following additional skills but not limited to;
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Deeper business knowledge and ability to mentor others
- Strong presentation skills
- Creative approach
- Ability to say no and defend unwanted changes into the system.
You can expect a senior business analyst to be smart in managing the work and influencing others. If you have such skills then you can become a senior business analyst down the line of your business analyst career paths.
4. Lead Business Analyst Or Manager
After having 10-12 years of experience working in multiple projects, you can become a Business Analyst Lead or a Business Analyst Manager. Some companies do not have a business analyst manager instead, they have business analyst lead who has the same roles and responsibilities as a manager.
After working so many years in multiple projects, a business analyst gains tremendous knowledge in business analysis, risks management, time management, project management, and other key project activities. However, a business analyst lead or a business analyst manager should have the following additional skills;
- Critical Thinking
- Ability to analyze data and research
- Advanced problem-solving skills
- Strong team management and leadership skills
- Strong communication skills
Being a business analyst manager can be very challenging as you will be managing multiple projects, facing new problems every day, lead other business analysts, etc. Business analyst leads or managers should have all the needed skills to manage their work efficiently.
5. Enterprise Architect or Solution Architect
Once you have enough experience in business analysis, you can also look for the opportunities in Enterprise Architect or a Solution Architect field. Your roles in responsibilities in an organization expands in this position. An enterprise architect will have strong business and in-depth knowledge of the overall project portfolio.
In organizations that have created this role, they have created a career path for highly skilled analysts to move into and continue to add significant value to the organization. Following are some of the key skills that an enterprise or solution architect should have;
- Expert in cost-benefit analysis
- Ability to conduct research independently
- Leadership skills
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to make an informed decision
- Strong presentation and convincing skills
The primary responsibility of a business architect or solution architect is to understand the strategic direction of the organization and do research on new ideas or initiatives that, the organization may want to pursue. They recommend the feasible and best solution to be considered post their research and analysis.
6. Business Architect
Business Architect profile requires high-level expertise and they play a key role in structuring the enterprise in terms of its governance structure, business processes, and business information. A business architect is an expert in aligning the organization’s strategic goals and objectives with decisions regarding products and services and key business and IT initiatives.
They apply a structured business architecture approach and methodology for capturing the key views of the organization. The following are the key skills required in a business architect but limited to;
- Strong decision-making skills
- Leadership and communication skills
- Ability to visualize and create high-level business process model.
- Ability to see the high-level picture.
- Exceptional presentation skills and consulting mindset
- Ability to define strategies, capabilities, processes, etc independently.
A business architect will have extensive experience in planning and deploying both i.e. Business and IT initiatives.
7. Independent Business Analyst Consultant
Alternatively, you can become an independent business analyst consultant. You can provide BA services to other organizations on an exclusive basis i.e. without having a 9 to 5 job. You can provide business analysis consultation and help in their business strategies and initiatives.
You should have experience in working multiple types of projects and should have delivered many projects successfully to become a business analyst consultant. Your resume should show your capabilities and expertise in the business analysis field. The following are the key skills required to become an independent business analyst consultant;
- Extensive experience in business analysis and creative approach
- Strong communication and interpersonal skills
- Presentation Skills
- Ability to research and recommend the best solution
- Ability to deliver with or minimum supervision
Whether you are a self-employed consultant or part of a large consulting company, the work of a business analyst consultant may vary from project to project. Some projects require a team of consultants, each specializing in one area. In other projects, consultants work independently with the client organization’s managers.
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Business analyst is just the beginning of your career and the career progress possibilities are endless. You can start with an entry-level BA and become a mid-level or senior BA where you will have more responsibility, more projects in your bucket, a team to manage, etc.
However, you need to keep improving your skills and enhance knowledge to follow your business analyst career ladder. You can go for business analyst certification, learn new skills, take initiatives, accept challenges, and many more to be able to reach high-level positions.
I hope you found this article useful. Do let me know your experience in a business analyst position and don’t forget to share this article with your friends.