Why Develop Your Business Analysis Skills?

business_analysis_This is part 1 of a 3 part series exploring the relationship between business analysis and project management – and most important what that means to you.  In this part, you’ll take a look at why, as a project manager, you might want to expand your business analysis knowledge and credentials.  In part 2, you’ll explore the basics of business analysis, and in part 3 you’ll examine the possible benefits of becoming certified in business analysis.

It can be argued that business analysis is a subset of project management.  However, usually the project manager of a large project has a business analyst on the team to do that work.  But on small projects, the project manager actually does the business analysis work.  Thinking more broadly, business analysis skills are effectively used even by upper management executives who need to understand the business architecture, know in detail how to implement change, deal with all stakeholders, and ensure that a return is earned on whatever projects are implemented.

What is driving what seems be an accelerating interest in business analysis?  One reason is that the landscape of business processes is changing, and technology is making business problems more complex than ever. As such, the role of business analysts to identify problems and suggest solutions is likewise not getting any easier.  Much is written about the enormous growth in analytical data, the ability to customize products and the customer experience, and the ability to manage operating details in the business to a highly granular level.  Increasing the number of data points exponentially increases the complexity of the business architecture, and that’s where business analysts come in.  This complexity requires business analysts to bridge the disconnect between technologies and the business itself.

Another driver behind the growth of the business analysis discipline, and the corresponding certifications, is that COOs are “risk-proofing” their business processes by resorting to globally recognized competencies which are set against a stringent and universally accepted standards.  Hiring certified professionals is a risk reduction strategy, and COOs are looking to reduce risk wherever they can.

Personally, as a professional, having demonstrable business analysis skills represents one more “feather in your cap”…and one more thing to give you an extra edge.  The job market is highly competitive today.  Jobs are unstable, and the need to shift companies and even industries is real.  The need to demonstrate business value clearly to employers or clients is also real.  Business analysis skills transcend any and all of these situations.

Many professions are somewhat like a trade – like a plumber, or carpenter…or engineer, lawyer, or doctor.  It is a continuing debate whether project management is a profession – a true specialty – or if it is a skill that is more typically attached to something else.  Business analysis has that in common with project management – that it is debatable whether it is a true profession versus a well-defined skill set that is applied broadly.  I don’t think there is a single right or wrong answer to this, but the point is that business analysis skills can be part of a whole skill set, or they can be a core skill set and specialty.  It’s up to the individual, and also is influenced by the situation that demands one or the other.

Given that there are many situations that a business analyst can encounter, and many types of roles that you can play, the IIBA® has specifically outlined some areas where bueinss analysis certification can be especially relevant and impactful.  Here are the areas, also termed IIBA market domains, outlined by the IIBA®:

  • Consulting
  • Process management
  • Requirements analysis or management
  • Systems analysis
  • Business analysis

The IIBA reports that members hold a number of roles across different industries such as management consultant, business architect, business analyst, IT analyst, systems analyst and requirements analyst – in alignment with the list above – just to name a few.

In conclusion, business analysis skills are valuable!  In the next article, Part 2 of this series, you will explore the basics of business analysis skills, with a special look at the commonalities between business analysis and project management knowledge areas.  In the third and final article of this series, you will get some information about the benefits and requirements for business analysis certification.

John Reiling

John Reiling

John Reiling, PMP, MBA is a practicing Project/Program Manager with a wide range of industry and functional experience over more than 25 years. John provides business analysis training through his site PMTrainingOnline.com. John's blog is PMcrunch.com.

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