Many on the path to starting business analyst careers find themselves in organizations with no business analyst role. In this situation, the question becomes, do I need to seek a new BA job outside my organization or can I create a BA role right here?
On the Business Analyst Career Roadmap, one of the many paths into your first BA role is proposing a new business analyst role in your current organization. In this article, we’ll do a deeper dive into what that process looks like.
Step 1: Understand Your Organization’s Current State
There are 3 primary criteria that need to be in place within your organization for a new BA role to be created:
- There needs to be a clear benefit or problem to be solved by adding business analysis competencies to your organization.
- There needs to be enough project or process work to fill the plate of a full-time business analyst.
- There needs to be management support for the new role.
While it’s relatively rare for #1 not to be true within an organization, because nearly all organizations are dealing with some level of change, it’s not uncommon for individuals in other roles to pick up the key business analyst responsibilities. For example, the product manager may work on the high-level business requirements and the technical lead may turn these into detailed system specifications. If this approach works for your projects, a formal BA role may not fill a needed gap in the short term and it will be difficult to make a case for a new role.
The second criteria is often not fulfilled in small organizations or organizations with very little to invest in upgraded systems and processes. In this scenario, you could instead propose a part-time BA role or a BA role that’s combined with other responsibilities, such as project management, quality assurance, or even business operations.
And, finally, all too often an organization meets #1 and #2, but not #3, meaning that there is an opportunity and enough work, but management doesn’t realize it. In this scenario, you must educate your management team about what kinds of problems a BA could solve and what kinds of projects a BA could work on.
The rest of this article assumes that your organization meets the first two criteria and that you need to help management buy in to creating a new role. (If this isn’t the case, you can continue to expand your business analysis experience while staying on the lookout for golden BA opportunities, which we’ll talk about at the end of the article.)
Step 2: Identify a Valuable BA Role
Now that you understand the context in which a business analyst role would fit, take some time to identify the core role to be filled by a business analyst in your organization. Identify the key responsibilities and skill sets needed, and even consider what types of projects the business analyst would contribute to.
Essentially, you want to write your own business analyst job description.
Business analyst roles vary widely across the industry. When putting together an ideal BA role for your organization, it’s more important that the skills and responsibilities be perceived as immediately valuable to the organization than they fit into an idea vision of a business analyst role you might find proposed elsewhere. Leverage the knowledge areas from the BABOK Guide for ideas, but limit the initial set of responsibilities to those of immediate value internally.
Once in a business analyst role, you can always take on more senior BA responsibilities.
Step 3: Propose the Role to Management
Proposed job description in hand, sit down with your manager or a manager you think would be receptive to creating such a role on his or her team and walk through your ideas. Discuss the problems or opportunities you’ve seen. Detail how the person filling the BA role could help solve these problems. Speak to tangible examples of where business analysis activities have already helped create value in your organization.
Your actions in this step will be better received if you’ve already begun to incorporate business analyst activities into your work. One of the reasons our virtual, instructor-led courses focus on applying BA practices regardless of your job title, is that actions speak louder than words. If your stakeholders can see the impact of business analysis in action, they’ll be more likely to embrace the idea of someone filling this role on an ongoing basis.
As an outcome from this step, you are looking for the manager to create a new job role on their team. In some less formal organizations, you might begin doing the work before the role is “official.” (This is something that happened to Wendy S on her path to BA.) In other organizations, the role will be officially created and open to both internal and external candidates, in which case you’ll need to apply for it like any other job applicant. Let’s talk about that step next.
Step 4: Apply For the Role
Just because you succeed in getting a new role created doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be the one chosen to fill it. You may need to apply and you may be up against well-qualified internal and external candidates.
Update your resume, prepare for the job interview, and be prepared to position yourself as qualified and ready to fill these new job responsibilities. In particular, speak to your experience doing similar business analysis activities in the past for this organization, your knowledge of and relationship with internal stakeholders, and the value of your organizational knowledge and expertise. This is also a good time to share any professional development you’ve done to grow your own business analysis skills and your intentions for continuing to expand your skill set.
Along the Way: Watch Out For Golden Opportunities
These 4 steps don’t always work in the short term. Even if your organization will benefit greatly from increased business analysis competencies, there can be external factors such as a lack of budget, overwhelm of work for your current job, or management resistance that impact your ability to propose and be positioned in a new internal business analyst role. If you hear “no” the first time, don’t give up, but do keep your eyes open for opportunities to make your case a second, third, or fourth time.
Golden opportunities that can break down the barriers to creating a new business analyst role include:
- Your organization starts a new project, bigger than your organization has taken on recently, such as a new software system, integration of a newly acquired product or company, or the re-engineering of a critical business process. Volunteer to help on the new project and look specifically for assignments related to business analysis.
- A key individual filling many BA responsibilities (but without the BA job title) decides to leave the company or take an extended leave. Volunteer to fill in for the gap left by this individual in the short term, especially the BA responsibilities. If the same position is reopened, consider applying for the open vacancy.
- Your organization begins growing unexpectedly and needs to quickly deal with “issues” related to increased customers, sales, or channels. Volunteer to sit on tasks forces, SWAT teams, or any new projects started to deal with the issues. Take on as many BA responsibilities as you can.
By demonstrating the value of business analysis activities to meet short-term needs, you’ll often be able to create long-term needs within your organization that eventually lead to a more formal business analyst role.
And while you are waiting for the golden opportunity to fill a business analyst role, be sure to continue to fill new business analyst responsibilities and practice using new skills wherever you can. You’ll be both solidifying your expertise in business analysis and demonstrating how these capabilities and skill sets will add value to your organization.
>> Learn More About Working Your Way Into a Business Analyst Role
Many now senior and experienced business analysts feel that their first role happened to them. In reality, they were taking unconscious steps to work their way towards a business analyst role. If becoming a business analyst is your career goal, you can accelerate your path and how quickly this “happens” to you by taking conscious steps forward.
Click on any one of the articles below to learn more about this process.
And, of course, if you are interested in learning about your best path forward into a business analyst career, check out my book How to Start a Business Analyst Career.