While it would be natural to assume that an IT Business Analyst works on technology systems, the IT Business Analyst job description is necessarily expanding beyond the “IT” component and into the “Business” component, and that means great things for the career prospects of analysts in this space.
In this article, we’ll look at a concept I call the Business-Technology Balance and then discuss 4 ways that the IT Business Analyst job is expanding as the balance shifts.
The IT Business Analyst Job Description is Impacted by the Business-Technology Balance
One concept I write about in How to Start a Business Analyst Career is the Business-Technology Balance.
While our profession is called business analysis, the vast majority of business analyst roles as they exist today deal specifically with software projects. Business change and software implementations tend to go hand-in-hand. Even so, some roles focus more on aligning the business team around the scope of a solution, and some focus more on detailed requirements for the technical team to implement.
In a business-focused role, you might have the following responsibilities:
- Understanding the needs of multiple stakeholders.
- Facilitating the negotiation of requirements amongst multiple stakeholders.
- Identifying the current- and future-state business processes.
- Helping the business stakeholders envision the future and how their work will need to change to support the future.
In a technology-focused role, you might have the following responsibilities:
- Creating, analyzing, and validating detailed functional specifications.
- Facilitating design sessions with the implementation team to define the solution.
- Delivering elements of systems design, including data migration rules, business rules, wireframes, or other detailed deliverables.
Source: How to Start a Business Analyst Career, Second Edition. Laura Brandenburg, pages 124-125.
A traditional IT Business Analyst job description was more technology-focused and the role was often defined around a system or small set of systems, commonly proprietary systems in use by only one organization. This kind of job description still exists today, but it is both career-limiting and offering decreased value to the organization.
More and more, we’re seeing expanding IT Business Analyst job descriptions that offer professionals the opportunity to shift more towards a business-focus and/or work at a more strategic level in the technology aspect of their roles. These jobs provide IT Business Analysts the opportunity to grow their skills, expand their value, and become more marketable.
Let’s take a deeper look inside the ways the IT Business Analyst job description is expanding and what this means for your opportunities in a business analysis career.
Expansion #1 – IT Business Analysts Work on More than One System
Historically, companies built and maintained single, monolithic systems or small collections of large systems to run their businesses. With the expansion of Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) systems available to meet almost any business or feature need, organizations are investing in and supporting an increasing quantity of systems. What’s more, in order for these systems to deliver the value business stakeholders expect, they need to talk to one another.
One way that IT Business Analysts’ job descriptions are growing is that they are focused on several systems and integrating those systems to deliver maximum efficiency and business value. When working on multiple systems it becomes more important to consider information flow and data requirements, as well as make strategic decisions about what functionality belongs inside what system.
However, even when working on multiple systems, an IT Business Analyst job description is still focused more on the technology side and less on the business side. There are other ways their role can expand to align more towards the business. Let’s look at that next.
Expansion #2 – IT Business Analysts Evaluate the Business Process
A second way the IT Business Analyst job description can expand is by looking into the business process. Traditionally, requirements discussions might be focused around the features and functions needed by any of the systems under the analyst’s domain. This is still important work.
But again with the introduction of new tools and software, meeting business requirements is becoming easier and easier. This can free up the IT Business Analyst’s time to focus more on the business processes driving the software requirements or helping modifying the business process once the software changes have been made.
This means that even as an IT Business Analyst you can play a role in clarifying, updating, and improving the business processes impacted by the technology changes that are part of your projects. This role requires you to partner more deeply with various members of the business community.
Expansion #3 – IT Business Analysts Support Multiple Stakeholder Groups
One of the recurring themes here is that systems are becoming more complex and technology implementations are able to offer an increased number of features. A corollary to this is that stakeholders from more departments tend to use any given system, meaning that more stakeholders get involved in any given project. For example, a seemingly simple update to the sales system could impact marketing, fulfillment, customer service and accounting.
This means that the IT Business Analyst gets more involved in the elicitation process, navigating the competing needs of multiple stakeholder groups, defining an end-to-end business process that is accepted by all groups, and finally mapping out the requirements for one or more systems to support these needs and the process. This type of job requires stronger communication skills, along with facilitation, prioritization, and scope management.
Expansion #4 – IT Business Analysts Look Beyond One Project
A fourth way that IT Business Analyst roles are expanding is by working on more than one project at a time. Historically, projects were larger in scope and fragile systems required full-time focus on analyzing and specifying requirements for one system inside one project. With the introduction of more fully-featured out-of-the-box systems, scope can be handled in different ways. And with the introduction of more agile processes, more organizations are breaking down big projects so that they can be delivered incrementally.
For the IT Business Analyst, this means you might work on many projects at one time or have the opportunity to participate in pre-project analysis work that helps enable informed decision-making about what investments to make in technology. In this way, you are involved in a more strategic role in addition to your tactical role on projects.
The IT Business Analyst Job is Great Place to Be!
If you find yourself in an IT Business Analyst job or are considering a business analyst career path, the IT Business Analyst role is a great place to start and can provide a launching point for a business analyst career. As you can see, an IT Business Analyst role is necessarily expanding beyond the technology component and into the business component, and that means great things for the career prospects of analysts in this space.
>>Learn More About Becoming an IT Business Analyst
In How to Start a Business Analyst Career, we discuss all types of IT Business Analyst roles in greater depth and look at the wide variety of roles in the IT Business Analyst space.
This book will help you find your best path forward into a business analyst career. More than that, you will know exactly what to do next to expand your business analysis opportunities.