As is tradition, we begin the New Year with a look ahead to the top trend in business analysis, as well as project management – as identified by our senior executives and subject matter experts.
The practise of business analysis is gaining recognition and attention, with BAs continuing to show value for money to their organisations.
The picture for the year ahead shows career paths emerging for BAs, as the discipline matures and they take on new skills to meet a broader job scope.
1) Business Analysts and Systems Analysts need interchangeable skills
More and more BAs are being asked to perform Systems Analysts functions, and vice-versa.
The implications of having interchangeable skill sets means that System Analysts will need to develop better soft skills to be effective in gathering requirements, while BAs will need to develop better technical competencies in order to liaise successfully between the business side and IT.
2) Agile will be seen as a competency not a methodology
More BAs are embracing Agile as a different and better approach to managing a project, as well as analysing, gathering, validating and communicating requirements.
But as Agile is about a mind-set and a framework, rather than a checklist and template, the successful Agile BA needs to understand Agile is about the culture, rather than just the methods.
3) BA and PM roles continue to overlap in small to medium sized organisations
Small and medium-sized organisations will need to broaden their BA and PM employees’ skill sets.
In environments where resources are scarce, BAs need to gather requirements and deliver them through the project, and likewise, PMs need to adopt a more proactive approach.
4) BAs will get in on the action earlier and more often
Bringing a BA in early on projects can yield significant benefits, especially because BAs are able to provide context to the project and become core members of the project team, not just an extension of it.
Projects will benefit from having more continuity, and from the opportunities to influence, persuade and lead stakeholders that this will bring from the very beginning.
This is particularly true of Integrated Project Teams (IPTs) who are proving their worth more and more, with a BA involved early on to help ensure projects get off to the best start.
5) Requirements management gets sophisticated
Organisations are moving away from the creation of huge business requirements documents. Technology means documents are now being managed and shared through web-based portals that allow for easier access, review and feedback.
These portals allow requirements to be collected and managed iteratively for better traceability and quality control, something which small and medium-sized companies will benefit from as well.
6) Business analysis continues to emerge as a profession with a career path in large organisations
In the same way that project management wasn’t a unique job 10-15 years ago, BAs face similar struggles. But a growing number of organisations are recognising business analysis as a career path with defined tracks – junior, senior, BA, Enterprise Analyst, Enterprise Architect, etc.
Perhaps more importantly, BAs are finding new trajectories within the management ranks because they are finally being recognised and rewarded for their knowledge of the business.
7) More and more project sponsors will learn about BA
According to ESI’s research, senior stakeholders such as sponsors, decision-makers and executives are more likely than ever to take a BA course.
We think this is because they are realising that solid requirements are the foundation for a successful project.
This is great news for BAs because a more educated sponsor can only result in a higher level of support and a deeper level of compassion for the requirements process.
8) There’s never been a better time to be a BA
As organisations and systems become more complex and more highly integrated, the need to get the requirements right first time becomes more important.
Trends in mobile computing, big data and security are all putting BAs in the front row.
9) Enterprise Architecture roles are being revived
Hiring highly paid Enterprise Architects didn’t sit well with management during the global recession. They cost too much money and their focus was too long-term. Consequently, many of them were shown the door as the business turned to more tactical concerns.
But in many cases, we are seeing that this short-sighted strategy has come back to roost. Now more than ever, organisations need people who know big data analytics, data architecture and data management.
BAs looking for advancement may well find this in the Enterprise Architecture role.
10) Cloud apps are forecast to stay
Cloud computing is here to stay, and with an increasing number of cloud-based applications, the BAs who understand how to do the tough job of requirements analysis for native cloud applications are going to see their careers sore.
The above trends for 2014 all show signs that BAs are carving out distinctive roles, providing critical competencies and earning the recognition they merit in an organisation.
While these trends indicate a number of challenges, they also demonstrate that BAs have clearly earned their place.
ESI International’s VP of Marketing and Strategic Intelligence , Mark Bashrun, discusses the trends further on the ESI You Tube channel.