A business analysts career progression. Are you an innie or an outie…?

In the last 12 months it’s become very apparent about the changes law firms are having to make to streamline their processes. Whether that’s changes in the way they provide legal services to their clients or the changes in business support functions who provide support to facilitate the delivery of legal services. There’s no doubt things are changing.

So what’s your next job going to be and what options are available to you? My first post (ever) was about improving ones skills in this current climate. It got me thinking and I recalled a post by Kupe Kupersmith (Twitter @kupe) I read sometime ago on career progression and I thought I’d extend it and try to apply a legal perspective.

Kupe essentially talks about “in the box” and “out of the box” career progression. In the box describes jumps to things deemed natural progression. Perhaps along the lines of senior business analyst, project manager, programme manager, business systems architect or maybe something further up the food chain if you’re lucky. Out of the box describes going on to something more a little left-field. Perhaps using your skills beyond legal, perhaps within a vendor, consultancy or even beyond IT.

It got me thinking about what I do and whether/how it can be applied across different commercial verticals and even different areas (outside of IT) of my current firm.

In many law firms the BA role is surrounded by a large amount of grey area in its relationships and responsibilities with other roles regardless what the job description says. I’m a senior business analyst by title but I perform more a blended of role; part BA, part PM and part business change manager. This may be reflective of the size of firm I work for, the projects I have worked on or personal choice but my title doesn’t sum up my responsibilities. I think this situation is often, more common than not.

There is another post by Kupe that describes the 6 main characteristics of a senior BA. I think these are all sound and sensible objectives in becoming a better BA. In my mind in order to excel in these areas there is another important factor, which is having a large dose of core soft skills to underpin them. It seems like an obvious statement but an essential one to point out. I have known BA’s who have excelled at understanding and applying current methodologies and practices but have struggled in front of the customer therefore hindering progress on a project or relationship. In my opinion it’s all 7 that will influence your next career move depending on your natural alignment and interest. Some people may find their niche in line with more analysis based skills and others will align their soft skills with opportunities.

I suppose the answer in my opinion is that the skills we all have as BA’s form a solid platform which can be leveraged in many different ways and environments. The skills of a good BA are enablers, they are not limiting. It’s time like these that we are lucky in my opinion to have the options and whether that’s in or out of the box – it’s up to you.

Good luck

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