From Quality Assurance to Business Analysis (GR)

Today we meet GR, who has graciously shared the story of how she transitioned from quality assurance to business analysis. Be sure to keep reading through to the end, as she also talks about how her first business analyst role didn’t start out exactly how she expected it to, and what she did to get her confidence back.

Laura: Why did you decide to pursue a business analyst career?

GR: The company I work at values Quality Assurance (QA) input. So while in QA, I had the opportunity to get involved early in the software development lifecycle. I participated in many working design sessions with the project team.

As such, I had the chance to not only see what goes on behind the scenes before a Functional Specifications Document was delivered to QA, but I also had the chance to provide input on the design itself. I found this to be very exciting and exhilarating because I was contributing to what the software was going to look like and how it was going to function for our clients.

What is even more fun is when the product is deployed to Production and it is in use by your clients – then your Line of Business partner reports back that clients are happy with the new functionality – you can take pride in knowing that you played a part in creating that happiness!

Laura: What were you doing before you started a career as a business analyst? 

GR: I started in QA and I think it gave me a great foundation to start my BA career. I did very well in my QA role and never thought of myself as “just a tester.” I was always invited to attend the design sessions for any new project because I knew the functionality of the application well. I was able to provide insight or help identify gaps that maybe other folks did not think of.

I would also do other tasks that were not necessarily in my job description, but if it was going to help the project be successful, then I would do it.

Often times I wore a Project Manager hat or a Release Manager hat – which I actually enjoyed. Because of my hard work in QA, that is how I was offered a job as a BA working for my former QA manager (who is now the BA Manager with a different application).

Laura: What has your new business analyst role been like so far? 

GR: I have been in the BA role for about 5 weeks now.  When I joined this group, a project had already been kicked off and it was in the middle of the design phase. The project has a Lead BA assigned already but I am currently assisting that BA with conducting research, leading elicitation sessions and writing requirements documentation – all while also trying to learn about the application as much as I can. The project is meant to correct and enhance current functionality and is expected to take about a year to complete.

Laura: Have there been any unexpected challenges? How did you deal with them?

GR: There have been some initial challenges.  I admit I was actually starting to doubt my career change because of some of the resistance that I was seeing from some of the project team members.

I have prided myself on being able to work with just about anyone and having good communication skills. While in QA, I had quite a bit interaction with the entire project team (including the Line of Business) from the very early stages of the project up until it was implemented.  I can truly say that I enjoyed working with my team; I had a lot of respect for them and I felt that respect was mutual! But I felt like I was struggling to gain the respect of my new team and so I was thinking that maybe I was the issue.

I was not quite ready to throw in the towel and call it quits. So in order to deal with the challenge, I decided to confide in a fellow BA (who had worked with the team for some time now) to get their input on what kinds of things I could do to help improve the situation.

After speaking with the BA, I learned that the resistance I was feeling had nothing to do with me personally. But I also realized that I still need to be the one to build up that trust and earn the team’s respect in order to build a better working relationship (and to be successful in my new role).

Laura: What recommendations would you make to others looking to follow a path like yours?

GR: If you are interested in becoming a BA, then I would recommend that you look for opportunities in your current role whereby you can put on a “BA” hat. I happened to be in QA so I think it was a bit easier for me to do this. But you do have to put yourself out there; step outside your job description and be willing to actively participate in other areas where you can make a positive contribution. Of course, as you do this, be sure to respect other people’s position and not cross the line when decisions are being made.

I also recommend that you keep a log of times when you used business analysis skills in your current role and how those skills impacted the outcome (positive and negative outcomes – for the negative ones, consider any lessons learned and how you may do it differently next time!).

Lastly, no matter what role you are in now (whether it’s QA or a cashier at McDonald’s) give it a 110% of your effort. Not only will you build up a strong network of future recommendations, you will also learn invaluable skills that can easily be applied to being a BA. For example, I think some of my best customer service skills came from working at the local pizzeria!

Laura: Thank you so much GR for sharing your story. I know many new business analysts are disappointed when their first role doesn’t work out perfectly and I know they will be inspired to learn how you overcame this challenge to move forward with your business analysis career!

>>Read More Success Stories

GR’s story is one of many BA career transition success stories here at Bridging the Gap. We’re honored to have had many readers tell us more about how they leveraged their professional experience to get started in business analyst job roles.

Click here to find more BA career success stories

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