You finally find a job as a business analyst! You start your new job with high energy. But then days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months. One day you wake up and realize that while you might have the business analyst title, this isn’t at all what you expected out of a business analyst job.
Two of our community members are dealing with this very issue.
I need help with a bit of an identity crisis. I was recently hired as an IT business analyst. After 6 months on the job I realize that what they really want is more like a project coordinator or admin assistant. My boss forbids me to write design documents or detailed requirements for our software projects. How can I turn this around, or is it likely to be a mistaken hire?
I recently made a big change; moved overseas and managed to get a Business Analyst position coming from a more Service Delivery in IT/Telecommunications background. However the job hasn’t been what I expected so far…I have been here for almost year and while I think I have done some good stuff here like writing training and other documentation as well as testing some pretty complex solutions, I haven’t really had the opportunity to do any of the core BA activities. What advice would you have for this sort of situation?
What’s going on here? There are a few reasons why this might happen.
The Job Title Was Wrong In the First Place
It may be that the manager or human resources professional in charge of putting together the job description simply titled it wrong. Take a second look at your job description. Do the responsibilities line up with the definition of a business analyst role?
If there isn’t a fair amount of overlap in responsibilities, you have the title but not the role. You’ll need to determine if you can turn this role into a business analysis role, move into another role in the organization that does have business analysis responsibilities, or if it’s time to move on by moving out.
Your Manager Doesn’t Understand Business Analysis
Perhaps you have the title and the job description is a fairly close match to a true business analysis role. Then what?
Well, if your job description says “analyze requirements” but your manager forbids you to write detailed requirements documentation, then it might be that your manager doesn’t truly understand what it means to be a business analyst. This is an opportunity to educate your manager. Use references from books and websites (like this one maybe!) to help communicate how you could be helping the organization.
But this conversation should not be one-way.
Take time to understand why your manager hired a business analyst in the first place. In that answer lies the value of employing a business analyst to your manager and the seeds of some real business analysis responsibilities. For example, if your manager wants “requirements analyzed” or “clarity for the dev team” but doesn’t want a “detailed requirements spec,” understand what they are expecting. Ask for work samples, templates, or a detailed explanation of what’s required.
It may be that you two are using different language to talk about the same deliverable or the same language to talk about different deliverables. Getting more specific can often clear up these misunderstandings. And this leads us to our next possible issue.
You’ve Made Some False Assumptions About Business Analysis
It is possible to be a business analyst without writing a detailed requirements specification.
- Perhaps you are on an agile team and you should be grooming a product backlog and writing user stories.
- Perhaps you are in a business-focused BA role where you can analyze business processes.
I’ve made my fair share of assumptions about what a business analyst should do (read this not-so-fun story as an example), but in the end I’m most successful when I focus less on specific deliverables and more on applying my BA skills to the benefit of the project.
More Pressing Matters Take Priority
If none of the above fits, it’s quite possible your manager hired you to do business analysis but organizational priorities have since shifted. Since the skill set of a business analyst tends to help us do well in a wide variety of roles, they reassigned you to more pressing tasks.
If this is the case, it’s time for a heart-to-heart conversation with your manager. You deserve to understand if this is a temporary sidetrack or a complete redefinition of your role. With this information in hand, you can make a good decision about staying put or pursuing other opportunities.
Choose Your Path
No matter where this analysis takes you, realize that you always have a choice and it’s your responsibility to choose.
- You can choose to stay and do the work in front of you to the best of your ability, letting go of the resentment and frustration.
- You can choose to gradually expand your role to higher-level responsibilities and inch your way into business analysis.
- You can choose to move into a new role in a new department or a new company, with more potential and opportunity.
Whatever you choose, we at Bridging the Gap are here to support you in expanding your skills and experiencing more confidence and success as a business analyst. Be sure to check out our online business analyst training and business analyst template toolkits. And don’t miss the book on getting started as a business analyst – How to Start a Business Analyst Career.