I was a project manager for 25 years, but for the past 4 years I have been involved in software QA and Process Improvement as a consultant for CMMI and other standards. I’ve been giving serious thought to moving towards a BA emphasis in my career, returning to earlier roots as a systems analyst. However, I’m no longer a ‘spring chicken’ and am wondering if makes sense for a post-60’s skilled/experienced individual to begin contemplating a career in BA? Be honest!
Pondering a career change at any stage in life is a hefty undertaking, and while I cannot speak directly to the complexities of those past my own age, I can make the attempt to give some general advice. What I see in the poster’s question is a great degree of experience that does not jump right out and say “business analysis”. However, everything this person has done involves a large degree of analysis technique and skill in order to be successful in the above respective roles.
As a PM, this person would have encountered organizational skills and potentially the rigor involved in CMMI-based methodology that typically requires detailed check points and documentation, as well as phase gate approvals. If this person has been in an industry that is under regulation and has the potential for audits, there is even greater emphasis on knowing what must be accomplished besides the actual project work. This brings a high degree of discipline.
As a Process Improvement consultant, this person would have been involved in many efforts that involve changes to organizational structure. This must include a large analysis effort revolving around business unit impact, application impact, infrastructure assets, resource requirements, and even simulated exercises to test potential new processes. Many of the analysis techniques described in the BABOK are used in this area of expertise, such as root cause analysis, decision analysis, interviewing, observation, etc. So, the poster would have gained exceptional experience as an analyst even if that is not what his or her title indicated.
So, to the question then. To me, it would make more sense to not necessarily switch careers but to re-brand your capabilities in a different way that emphasizes your ability to analyze…because that is what this person has been doing essentially. A career switch can be a huge, lengthy and often frustrating undertaking if positions are not forthcoming for the job seeker. My sense is that this poster has a ton of capability to bring to bear and would be better recognized and utilized as a senior consultant that has expertise in guiding analysis efforts for many types of projects. I also think that the job search results might be better than if he/she is marketing himself/herself as a fledgling, yet elder analyst. I don’t believe in job discrimination based on age, but the reality is that it occurs. I would offer the advice that this person should be presented as an experienced mentor who is brought in to resolve issues, so that should be the focus of self-marketing efforts.
Then how does one really get one’s head around how to make that happen, especially if there is no recognition that perhaps analyst skills are already present? Start reading and taking some classes. Read through the IIBA BABOK to recognize skills you already have. Read business analysis articles, blogs and books to recognize how analysts perform their duties formally, in order to understand that much of the current skills really do translate into formal analysis skills.
Finally, you’ll want to sign-up for Laura’s free step-by-step BA career planning course, download Laura’s eBook on How to Start a Business Analyst Career and keep your eyes posted for enrollment into future business analyst training courses.