A Technical Background for a BA?
Preferably!…there are, without doubt, lots of skilled Business Analysts (BA) working in software development right now who have no technical background. However, my understanding is that it is better to have at least a minimum technical knowledge and experience.
Of course I’m biased! I am a Computer Systems Engineer and I have been working as a Business Analyst for the last 2 and a half years. Before that, I worked as a SAP consultant and developer. This means that I have a strong technical background, based on my degree and on my professional career.
Why it Helps to Have Some Technical Know-How Under Your Belt
My years working on the technical side of numerous projects helps me understand the technical solutions and decisions which are made in the projects. I am able to discuss with the developers about that. It is a big advantage in comparison to a Business Analyst who does not have technical skills.
“I’m able to understand the technical solutions which are made in the projects and discuss with the developers about that. It’s a big advantage .”
Sebastian Grimberg, Business Analyst at Making Sense
For example, I am able to read and fully understand source code based on my knowledge. A person (Business Analyst or not) without the technical knowledge will not be able to read source code. It’s like me trying to read Chinese (I don’t know one word of this language).
Business Analysts are Not Quite Like Waiters
I’ve heard people liken the role of BA to that of a waiter. It’s the waiter’s job to take your order and bring you the food. He should also know a little about what goes on in the kitchen so he can serve as the connection between the chef and the patrons. However, he doesn’t have to know how to cook the food himself.
As part of my role as BA, I serve as the contact point between the Product Owners and the development team. It’s definitely a client-facing position. I really enjoy this part of my job, and I’m confident that my technical background helps in this area, too.
But unlike a waiter, who doesn’t necessarily have to know how to cook, I do my job much better if I can “cook” the code myself. For me, I couldn’t imagine helping my clients arrive at ideal solutions unless I had a strong technical background.
Technical Experience Proves Useful Each Day
When I meet with clients, my technical experience helps out a lot. Case in point: when we discuss new functionalities or modifications of existcing functionalities, I am actually able to pre-think possible ways to implement what we’re discussing. That means I can be realistic about what can be done and what cannot be done under the scope of the project.
I also work closely with the developers on any given project, very often assisting in the design of our client applications. That, plus my role in helping formulate design requirements, calls for a strong technical background, in my opinion.
From Technical Roles to BA
In conclusion, my transition to the Business Analyst role coming from technical roles was very natural. It was a career change that I, like many other developers, wanted and needed in order to keep growing and remaining inspired. And the best part of it is that I am able to continue working on the same type of projects as before but now from a whole new point of view!