Reader: I had a question for you and would really appreciate your insight into this. I have 5 years of experience in IT and a very good balance of development (.NET framework) and core BA work. I was looking for BA position but I recently accepted a Technical Analyst role.
The job is in mortgage industry and I will be working with a top leader in mortgage solutions for some of major banks like BofA and Chase. I am concerned about what kind of portable skills am I going to acquire. My role currently is creating technical designs wherein I would be basically working on a document laying out what changes that need to be done to which places in code. The document is meant for developers and I create that based on the Business Requirements gathered by our company BAs. I am afraid that I will learn too much about the tool but not grow as much as I should, if just in case I was to leave this company after 2 years for example. I would ultimately like to see myself as a BA and then PM.
What do you have to say about this?
Laura’s answer: You raise a great question and just the fact that you raise it tells me that you are taking your career in your own hands. So first of all, well done on looking at the long-term potential of this position and how it meshes with your career goals!
I think you are correct to acknowledge the limitations of your current role to qualify you for future business analyst roles. As a Technical Analyst you will become a systems expert over time and it sounds like your current role is leveraging your programming competencies more than your business analyst skills.
All is not lost. First off, there are BA competencies that you will expand upon in this position. You will become very good at communicating with developers and understanding what makes them successful. And you will do this without actually doing the development work, which is an important layer of abstraction. You will also become an excellent consumer of business requirements as provided by your BAs. You will learn what kind of input makes you successful as a technical analyst and you will have a deep understanding of the process between business requirements and technical specifications.
Because you know the limitations of your role going in and you have a clear set of career goals, you can keep your eyes open for other opportunities that might surface to build transferable skills. Can you build business analyst experiences through new assignments?
- Maybe your team needs to improve it’s processes?
- Maybe you could shadow the business analysts through requirements gathering?
- Maybe a business analyst will go on an extended vacation and you’ll be able to step up and assume some of the responsibilities? (I actually qualified myself for a QA role when a senior person on my team spent 3 weeks in Japan — don’t count on it but it does happen!)
- Maybe a business analyst position will open up while you are working as a technical analyst and you’ll be able to apply. Your system knowledge could be viewed as a strong asset for a BA position in the same company and thereby help you to build more marketable competencies.
I wish you the best in your new role. I hope you enjoy it and are able to make the most of it.
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