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The evolving role of the Business Analyst (and why it just might be the career you’ve been looking for)

Insight Published on 18 September 2020

Senior Analyst, Kathryn Druggan explains some reasons she continues to thrive in her career, even after 15 years, and why you might too….

Defining business analysis is a challenge, and its practitioners continue to debate what constitutes the core responsibilities of a ‘BA’. In addition to this, there are a host of alternative job titles for what essentially is a business analyst role. These, to name a just a few, include Business Process Analyst, Functional Analyst, Product Owner, Business Systems Analyst, Usability Analyst, User Experience Designer or simply Analyst (as chosen by PDMS).  

The profession is broad and typically, practitioners will encounter different facets of this breadth, dependent on the context in which they are practicing and their career level. 

The BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT) defines a BA as:

An advisory role which has the responsibility for investigating and analysing business situations, identifying and evaluating options for improving business systems, elaborating and defining requirements, and ensuring the effective implementation and use of information systems in line with the needs of the business.

However, Kathryn has a slightly different take on this definition:

Over the years, I have seen the role of the Analyst advance and grow.  It’s no longer just about sourcing and baselining ‘solution agnostic’ business requirements, rather it has expanded to be far more appealing, exciting, and rewarding. In a world of ubiquitous technology, digitisation, agile and user experience the analyst may ‘wear a particular hat’, or take on a different role, depending on the project methodology, stakeholders, problem, technology, immediacy, or problem domain. As the role deviates from the textbooks, it is becoming increasingly difficult for organisations, PDMS included, to agree on a concise job description to fully illustrate the great features of the career.

Here are seven reasons for pursuing a career as a Business Analyst: 

1. Variety and new challenges

Speak to any analyst at PDMS, and they will describe experience of working on projects across various industry sectors for a range of our clients.  PDMS’ varied client portfolio, coupled with our continuous improvement model, makes each project unique with interesting fresh challenges to overcome. 

Technology is increasing our ability to build at an exponentially rapid rate, and companies purchasing this tech expect leaner, faster, and more agile solutions.  In response, analysts must continue to develop to keep up with the demand and competition. There is no repetitive ‘doing the same old things and expecting different results’ in our field.

The role requires you to wear ‘many hats’: you must be able to visualise both the big picture and the minutiae, to move between both the technical and business side of a solution, to be self-sufficient and facilitate groups.  You will work with lots of different people at all levels of an organisation and two days are very rarely the same.    

2. Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow

Projects are occasions to gain new skills, I will often draw more from one project than I will from any course or textbook. This is because we learn and execute in a tight performance cycle, collaborating and solving a range of problems with colleagues and partners from diverse disciplines, backgrounds, and with an array of business and technical experience. 

Projects involve many types of learning. There is the past learning that the team members bring in, present learning which occurs within the project, and future learning which happens from the growth that each team member will take with them to their new projects.

Every fresh problem, domain, client, technology, and solution requires the analyst to ‘drink from the firehose of information’ or to learn a lot in a short amount of time.  The understanding required of the analyst allows you to sit at a unique vantage point and often you are likely to act as a ‘trusted advisor’, which is very rewarding. 

3. It is fascinating and fun

The analyst helps organisations to identify what must be changed and how best to change it - a challenging yet fascinating environment to operate in. 

Designing solutions to customer problems and making an impact is fun and satisfying. In order to meet all of the user, business, and technology needs, we adopt a ‘Human Centred’ approach focused on empathising with users and understanding how they will react to and interact with the design of services and products. 

In ‘Design Thinking’, we use lots of fun collaborative tools to open our creative minds including game-storming, problem reframing, user journey mapping, blueprinting, and prototyping.  Sometimes having the free mind of a child, being playful and telling stories allows for more design freedom and a more enjoyable and memorable experience for all! 

4. Career prospects

We are in a period of rapid reformation of business landscape. Economic, technical, and now logistical challenges, identified during lockdown, have accelerated the need for digital innovation over traditional business solutions.  No doubt this presents bright possibilities in the future of the analyst. 

Even if the BA profession dried up tomorrow (it won’t), the competencies developed by working as an analyst are sought after in progressively inter-connected and fast-changing organisations.

If you care about your prospects, this market is opening, you can become a member of a supportive global community and be well rewarded too. 

5. You are a personality fit

In personality terms, I would describe myself as an empath who, aside from crying at folk’s stories, loves that my role involves improving people’s working lives. I am extrovert and like to communicate clearly. I am a thinker who likes to be challenged and being able to excel. I’m naturally very curious and always have just “one more question”.  

If this sounds like you, then this career might be for you too. 

6. You will enjoy independence, flexibility and trust

An experienced analyst will be self-organised, flexible and trustworthy.  At PDMS, workplace flexibility is cultivated for employees: this provides colleagues latitude about how goals are accomplished and promotes job satisfaction. 

7. We make a difference

We may not be finding a cure for cancer or a vaccine for Covid-19, but we do help change and improve people’s daily experiences, which is rewarding. 

An analyst can add value from the inception of a project; helping the business to look at things in new ways, establishing strong collaborative relationships and identifying points of failure early.  

The ultimate goal is to delight our customers through innovation and transformation. The demo of a solution you know is going to be a game changer, or when you receive that all-important customer kudos is what we analysts live for. 

There are many more reasons I love my career, but I’ll leave it at seven for now. We're always keen to hear from talented Analysts.

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