1. Business analysts and systems analysts will need to develop interchangeable skill sets.
With the baby-boomer retirement in full swing, the need to load-balance between business analysts and systems analysts is increasing. More and more, we see BAs being asked to perform systems analysts functions and vice-versa. The implication is two-fold: systems analysts need to develop better soft skills to be effective in eliciting requirements, and BAs need to develop better technical competencies in order to be a successful “liaison” between business and IT.
2. Many will realize that being agile is a competency, not a methodology.
Having an Agile skill set means being effective and efficient in getting the “right” requirements in quantity, quality, and representation. More BAs are embracing “Agile” as a different and often better approach to managing a project as well as analyzing, gathering, validating, and communicating requirements. But Agile is a mindset and a framework, not a bunch of checklists and templates. The successful “Agile” BA will understand it’s all about the culture of Agile, not the methods.
3. The role of the BA and PM will continue to overlap in small to medium-size organizations.
The cold, hard reality is that small and medium-size organizations need to load balance, especially as it relates to BAs and project managers (PMs). In these environments, where resources are scarce, BAs need to gather requirements and put them into production. Likewise, PMs need to adopt a “just do it” approach, sharpening their skills on elicitation techniques and developing SMART requirements — those that are specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, and time-bound.
4. BAs will get in on the action early and often.
Bringing in BAs early can yield significant benefits, particularly for mission-critical projects. This is because BAs are able to provide context to the project and because they become more vested and “take the journey” as core members of the project team, not an extension to it. Projects will benefit from more continuity and from more opportunities to influence, persuade, and lead stakeholders from the very beginning. This is particularly true when using an Integrated Project Team (IPT) approach. More and more, IPTs are proving their worth, and getting the BA in early can help ensure that the project gets off on the right foot.
5. Requirements management gets sophisticated.
Organizations are moving away from creating huge, monolithic business requirements documents — you know, the kind that make a THUD when they hit the conference table. It’s bad news for contractors, because the louder the THUD the higher the price! But technology is changing all that. Documents are being managed and shared through Web-based portals like SharePoint that allow for easier access, review and feedback. More importantly, these Web-based portals allow requirements to be collected and managed iteratively for better traceability and quality control. And because the technology is scalable, small and medium-size companies can enjoy the benefits as well.
6. Business analysis continues to emerge as a profession with a career path in larger organizations.
In much the same way that project management wasn’t a unique job 10 or 15 years ago, BAs face similar struggles today. However, a growing number of organizations are recognizing business analysis as a career path with defined tracks — junior, senior BA, enterprise analyst, enterprise architect, etc. Perhaps more importantly, BAs are finding other trajectories within the business management ranks because they are finally being recognized and rewarded for their knowledge of the business.
7. More and more, project sponsors will learn about BA.
According to our research, senior stakeholders such as sponsors, decision-makers, and executives are more likely than ever to take a BA course. Why? We think it is because they realize 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. BAs become cool.
As organizations and systems become more complex and more highly integrated, the need to get the requirements right the first time becomes more important. Trends in mobile computing, big data, and security all put the BAs front and center — there’s never been a better time to be a BA!
9. Enterprise architecture comes back to life.
Was it ever really dead? Having highly paid enterprise architects on staff didn’t sit well with management in the global recession. They made 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. In many cases, though, that short-sighted strategy has come back to roost. Now more than ever, organizations need people who know big data analytics, data architecture, and data management. BAs looking for advancement may well find their payday in the enterprise architecture role.
10. There are plenty of cloudy days ahead, and those clouds are filled with apps.
Cloud computing is here to stay, and with an increasing number of cloud-based applications so are BAs who understand how to do the tough job of requirements analysis for native cloud applications. The naysayers were wrong, so climb aboard and watch your career float to the stratosphere.