Are you a developer looking to build your career as a business analyst?
When software is to be designed and developed as a panacea to business problems, BAs are expected to work with developers to ensure that developers understand the requirements to be implemented completely. This implies that developers spend considerable time working with business analysts to refine requirements. Developers are well-placed to question requirements, assess their feasibility and spot requirements that can potentially be difficult or time-consuming to implement. These capabilities are highly desired in BAs.
I’ve received several enquiries from software developers who want to move into the business analysis field. What are the challenges in accomplishing this and how can they be overcome? How can a software developer successfully become a business analyst without being drawn back to their former role whenever the company nears some big deadline and needs developers quickly? This article addresses key career transition questions that developers should have answers to.
The recommended strategy is simple: software developers must use their existing skill sets to prove to employers that they have the necessary skills to assume the business analyst role.
What Do Software Developers Bring To The Table?
Most software developers enjoy problem-solving, which is an important business analysis skill. Developers tend to excel at abstract thinking and find it easy to learn new things in a very short time. This attribute will be extremely useful when new terms associated with the business domain are encountered.
Since software developers understand how current IT technologies can be used to meet business needs, they can effortlessly come up with realistic designs and solutions that don’t seem alien to developers. They will also be able to relate technical ideas to programmers when discussing requirements.
Business analysts with technical skills can communicate much better with software developers. They can also write technical requirements, propose software solutions, specify system architectures, and much more.
What Do Software Developers Lack?
Developers are judged by their capacity to write and maintain software. On the other hand, business analysts talk to stakeholders to elicit requirements, apply their analytical skills to analyze requirements, and present requirements in the form of business analysis deliverables. Developers who are used to working at the computer with minimal distraction, will have to get used to interacting with stakeholders and analyzing requirements until they are clearly defined. Fortunately, this can be learned.
While most skills required to work as a business analyst can be acquired over time, a lack of the underlying social skills required to communicate with business people effectively is usually the biggest hurdle to overcome for software developers who are not people-oriented.
What Can a Software Developer Do to Become a Business Analyst?
Besides realizing where their core strengths and weaknesses lie, software developers who want to become business analysts should:
- Familiarize themselves with key business analysis techniques and concepts. The BABOK Guide is a great place to start.
- Talk to business analysts and involve themselves in the requirements elicitation process. This way, they can experience first-hand what business analysts do daily and even find a mentor.
- Learn about the problems facing the business, the trends in the industry, the business strategy and the kinds of projects the business is looking to initiate
- Understand the templates used and how to document requirements with them. This will help when preparing BA deliverables
- Get managerial support so that they can get involved in business analysis tasks, whenever the opportunities arise. This way, it’ll be easy to get a feel for what business analysis tasks are.
Software developers can make great business analysts because they already possess several key strengths needed for successful business analysis. Additional training might however be required before developers can work as business analysts, especially when on-the-job training is not possible and advanced business analysis skills are required.