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I am seasoned analyst/developer who has grown from a senior dev to lead a small team working on line of business applications for a large company.

In a last ten years I have been working within the same business domain area and have gained quite a bit of domain knowledge and experience working directly with end (business) users.

Because of my business domain knowledge I have been offered the interview for a business analyst (BA) position.

It is not to say that I got bored with the software development as such, not at all, in fact in a last two of years I have re-discovered it again and have learned more technologies than in a previous eight years, but I rather see that move (from analyst/dev to ba) as a career progression.

I will have a chance to learn new things, but more importantly I will be able to make a bigger impact on the development process, which should result, well, in a better software. The pay is slightly better too. This is what motivates me … to go to the interview.

However:

Should I realize, couple of years down the road, that I am not cut out to be a good BA, would I be able to go back and start programming again, given that I would not be programming at all while performing a BA job? This is what worries me in a near term.

In a longer term I think being a BA makes a job knowledge less (or non) transferable. Not sure though if this really is the case, so if you can share your thoughts – please do.

As an software developer, if the things are to go really badly job-wise, and I can always change a job and start programming something what have a huge demand for e.g. mobile applications for today.

But I think BAs are different, in a way, that their experience/knowledge is so tied to a particular industry, which only make them valuable for small number of companies within the same business/industry.

My another concern is that being a BA will make me a lone-rider, in between person of all other teams/departments (business, IT, management), which would be a difficult position to be in ... daily.

Lastly, many times I saw BAs been demoted to do technical writing / testing / support job, rather than extracting the requirements from the business/users and reasoning with IT on what could be done and how (which is what I think a “true BA” should be doing).

My question is – should I try and move to BA or my assumptions (which you can infer from what I have written above) about a BA's role in the development process are wrong and I’d better stay where I am now?

Thank you.

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closed as off topic by Walter, gnat, GrandmasterB, Jim G., Matthieu Aug 21 '12 at 12:28

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What are the career prospects down the line? in the long run, an outstanding programer will have better demand over an outstanding BA because the developer skill is transferrable. Which means the employer needs to pay a premium to hold on to his knowledge. For BA, because his knowledge is not that much portable, his demand outside the company is less. And why do you say being a BA gives you a chance to make a bigger impact? It may seem like a career progression because it has the word 'business' in it, but take it with a grain of salt man. –  Kaushik Aug 8 '12 at 22:25
    
Why "bigger impact"? Well, the BA represents the "business" as in business/management talks to BA first. Thus BA will have more chances to steer some business initiative into the right direction. Having said that the way business usually "tells" analyst/developer "what to do", while in a BA's case - business would normally "ask" "what does it want to achieve and what are the options available". –  PeterT Aug 9 '12 at 2:41
    
Well, the BA represents the "business" as in business/management talks to BA first, before it talks (if it all) to developer. –  PeterT Aug 9 '12 at 2:55
    
That may be for very large corporations...for smaller companies, developers get more respect. –  Kaushik Aug 9 '12 at 15:25
    
in a smaller shops I doubt there is a need for a BA positions at all. –  PeterT Aug 9 '12 at 23:25

3 Answers 3

Go for it !

As far as you have passion and interest to learn, improve your skills and tooling to be a 5 star BA - you will be successful.

Becoming a Business Analyst would also mean that you should switch your focus from in depth technical details of project TO detecting pieces of business process, data flow within the processes, and be an advocate for customer to suggest improvements their business needs to be competitive!

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Business Analyst at a large firm here (although more recently moving into development).

I think that you should go for it. The work can be very rewarding and you will be gain insight into the software life cycle that you wouldn't have had as a developer.

I also think your concerns about your career are somewhat unfounded. I've been a business analyst in the property industry for three years but in that time I've had offers from varied industries. Businesses care a lot more about finding analysts that are able to think well with strong technical and client skills and many will be prepared to upskill you on the job if you have these in spades. It is not uncommon (at least at my place of work) for a business analyst to not have a strong domain knowledge when hired but to have a very strong technical / customer skills base to work from.

I would also take a look at this thread as there's some great links / information to be found there to help better understand what you would be doing in your new role and what you could focus on to be great at it.

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2  
thanks for the link –  PeterT Aug 6 '12 at 7:05
    
@PeterT Not a problem :) –  ElvisLikeBear Aug 6 '12 at 7:59
    
just curious - why are you moving from being a BA to do the development work? –  PeterT Aug 8 '12 at 4:52
1  
@PeterT I've reached a bit of a salary cap on what I can do as a BA with my current knowledge here. I got offered a good raise to bring what I know into the development team (similar to your situation but in reverse). I look at it as an opportunity to learn more about "the other side of the fence" which will also benefit me if I then ever return to BA work. That, and I also wouldn't mind the change for a while :) –  ElvisLikeBear Aug 8 '12 at 4:59

There is no reason that being a BA involves less portable skills. Knowing a lot about one particualr domain just makes you a Subject Matter Expert (SME), while being a BA is more about working with SMEs to tease out business processes, rules, etc.

As far as what exactly a "BA" does day to day, its likely the same situation as "developer" or "programmer": the title is very broad and every job has to be evaluated for what the employer really expects you to do.

As a consultant, I use BA like skills pretty often. Done correctly, I think you will be able to find positions down the road that allow you to use your new found capabilities in a development job, if you end up deciding you want to go back.

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