If you haven’t seen it yet, check out CIO magazine article written recently by Katherine Walsh about the Hot Job of a Business Analyst:
Ms. Walsh describes the role of the BA consistently with the IIBA definition and has some good things to say about our Business Analyst role and why it’s hot right now. What I found most interesting was a comment that a CIO wrote in response about hiring good BAs. This CIO prefers to work with Business Analysts who are originally from the business (not IT) yet also technically savvy. Can you guess the reason for her prejudice? Technical people tend to want to solve every problem with software before they understand the business process, the environment and the objectives. Not that I agree with this generalization of every person with an IT background, but we all know people who have this habit. I can remember many elicitation sessions where an architect or a developer who was invited to listen in and hear the business requirements and then he or she would immediately try to tell us how they would design a software solution.
This issue of jumping into the solution too quickly is exactly the thing that we at B2T Training try to instill throughout our BA curriculum – you really need to understand the business problem and the business area before you start designing a software solution. Even though technology is integrally tied to most business solutions, software is not the right answer to every business problem. I repeat, software does not fix every business problem. Many people still don’t get it. Some technical folks think they know better than the business people how the business can run more efficiently even when they don’t have a clue about the critical business processes and what the business people need to accomplish their goals. That is why an excellent BA is one who tries in every project to understand the fundamental business needs before identifying functional requirements to the IT staff or picking out software packages to purchase. Everyone wants to finish projects faster but who are we kidding? There is no silver bullet, other than thorough investigation to learn the details or else we run a high risk that the project will fail.
One more note about the salary ranges mentioned by Ms. Walsh – I think that senior BAs can command more than she listed as the top of the salary and this is why. I think whenever a company finds Business Analysts who truly get the business, are technically savvy, are great problem solvers, are organized, good negotiators, are very detailed yet see the big picture, and have good communication skills across the organization; they will always command competitive salaries. And if the BA also possesses leadership skills and an MBA, they will most likely be groomed for management positions with greater and greater responsibilities.
Coincidentally in the Wall Street journal I also read another article recently that said how important it was for CIOs to be business savvy. It reminded readers that the days of being only a great technical manager are over. CIOs need to help develop the business strategy with the other C-level management. They can’t just think about technology for the sake of technology. They need to help develop and support the business strategy. Hmm – I think this is a role that a senior BA could aspire to perform.