Transition from a Developer to a Business Analyst
Experienced insights to help you make your way up
If you are here, I assume you are convinced about engaging in this changeover and there is no looking back.
Here are some basic steps to follow to get acquainted with your new world order:
Start thinking like a business analyst. A developer has a completely different mindset from a Business Analyst’s. A typical software developer will simply write code instead of digging deep into the crux of the business purpose.
What will go in the specs – is what a BA has to figure out when he goes onset. While a developer’s role is more grounded “in the smokes”, a BA on the other hand, undertakes a well-rounded thought process on client’s business and on ways to best meet their needs. A BA strives to comfortably translate the project requirements for the developer to simply begin writing the code by interpreting those requirements.
For a smoother transition, think and answer questions that a BA would typically ask – like:
- What business problem will the software solve?
- What is the client doing at present to alleviate or solve the issue? What has been tried in the past?
- What inside resources will this project be utilizing? What outside resources will be needed?
- What according to you is the vision of the project?
- What risks to you foresee. Which calculated risks are you willing to take?
- Is there a time constraint?
- Who are your end users? What support will they have?
- How can the software be leveraged and scaled for future business capabilities?
Eat up the BABOK. Get a copy of “Business Analysis Body of Knowledge”. It is your holy book. Become familiar as this will serve as your go-to book for guidelines and best practices for business analysis.
Learn Business Process Modeling. Two core competencies of a business analyst are complete and proper documentation of the project deliverables and re-engineering of business processes. Some software developers are fortunate to have a similar experience in developing system requirement documents which include workflows, business data flows, activities and sequence diagrams, etc. – so this could be a small and easy shift.
Get interwoven with this business domain. Start sitting in meetings where business strategy is defined and business needs are analyzed. Get to know the expert business analysts in your company and ask to participate in their requirement gathering sessions. It’s important to learn the workings of a business and what it seeks to accomplish. In doing so, you may also find people willing to mentor you and ease your transition to a business analyst.
See the bigger picture. Being a developer, you are more concerned about owning the software part. However, on this side of the table, it is critical to understand how all bits and pieces of one software become part of an assimilation - user experience of a single software and other modular components, integration with other applications and systems, and the business potential supported by applications and systems.
Power of technical exposure. A business analyst with hands-on experience in software design and development is a big plus. This gives you an edge in being a perfect communication channel between the business and technical teams – considering you are fortunate enough to speak the technical language with IT pros. Another big blessing is your meticulous insight into design and code, and cognizing how various systems and applications can be transformed to scale the business for further growth.
Befriend user experience and design. I will not expect business analysts to be experts in UX design, however, I will emphasize that they be fairly knowledgeable of it. The future business analyst should start learning about the problems, challenges, and possibilities in user interface design. A good BA will dive deep into the interface flows and application responses to users’ input and behavior. (We’ll get into detail in a later post on this topic.)
Having a mentor around you. I have seen many thriving BAs get ahead simply by leaping onto an opportunity of talking to a mentor present either within or outside your organization. Key value additions of seeking mentors’ guidance are limitless, but here are a few important ones:
- Insights and tips from an experienced professional
- Valuable leaning of what really works to get ahead in the field
- Treasured network base
Good luck with your transition and happy business analyzing! ☺
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Systems Limited, or any other entity related to Systems Limited.