Since we are a Business Analyst training company we talk a lot about how Business Analysts are trained and developed. We have BAs of various levels attend our training classes and even the most experienced or senior BA always finds some additional tricks or techniques that he or she has not used before. Some of our potential customers ask why do we not have junior level classes and senior level classes? This leads me to the question, what is the difference between a junior BA and senior BA?
There are two necessary ingredients for competency in business analysis: knowledge and skill. Knowledge means that you know something, for example you know what data is, or you attended a class on how to build an entity relationship model. Skill means that you have the ability to do the task, in other words, you have actually built a data model for a real project. In our training we try to give students both – we teach knowledge and then our workshops give you experience or skills. But we know these workshops are very different than doing a project in the real world.
I would say that a more senior BA has more experience working on projects. Is that fair? But how do you measure experience? Number of years? Number of projects? Accuracy of requirements? Number of defects found in the final solution? I think it is much more complex than simple metrics. A BA who has worked on many different types of projects (i.e., data warehousing, software package implementation, maintenance, new development) is probably more senior than a BA who has only worked on one application – even if the latter BA has more years of experience than the former.
Many of our customers are developing 2, 3 or 4 levels of BAs to recognize that the skills of a BA can increase with time and experience.
In addition there is another dimension to the business analysis profession. I hope that we are going to see BA positions/titles represent the breadth of experience and project types that we work on. Some BAs work at a very strategic level, helping to identify projects, write business cases and develop business architecture plans. Experienced BAs in this area might be called Business Consultants. Other BAs are very technical, often holding the title of Business Systems Analyst or Systems Architect. They work very closely with the development organization and help to design the software, in addition to gathering the requirements.
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