How to specialize your Business Analysis career to succeed?
You have probably heard a lot of people say that a truly successful Business Analyst is one who can be placed on any project within any industry and still add value as a Business Analyst. Although this statement is true in a certain context, in reality this is only one type of successful Business Analyst that exists. The profession of Business Analysis is very wide and diverse and it is important for people to understand some key dimensions when it comes to ways you can specialize in your career as a Business Analyst.
This blog article outlines three different ways that a Business Analyst can specialize their careers to become a very successful Business Analysis professional regardless of the chosen speciality.
Specialism #1: The Business Analyst with a diverse skill set
The term comprehensive skill set or even generalist is certainly a contradiction in terms when talking about a specialism but just take a moment to digest what this specialism is all about. The Business Analyst with a comprehensive skill set is that type of Business Analyst that specializes in being an expert in the Business Analysis methodologies, processes, tools and techniques. The experienced or more senior Business Analyst of this type is familiar with the project environment and has worked in many different types of projects and different industries. This type of Business Analyst takes pride in being subject matter agnostic and sells being a Business Analyst based on their comprehensive understanding, experience and practical application of the profession as their major professional skill set and service they offer.
The majority of Business Analysts in the market today will either be Business Analysts with a comprehensive skill set as described here or aspire to become a highly proficient Business Analysts with this speciality within the next 2-5 years.
The advantages of being a Business Analyst with this type of speciality are that they can move between projects and organisations with relative ease. This type of Business Analyst always gets a brand new subject matter area or new type of project to operate within and they are therefore always challenged and highly useful individuals in a variety of situations.
The major disadvantage of this type of speciality is that although you will gain immense skills and experience as you progress and develop in your career, it can take a few years for you to add in-depth value in any environment you are placed into. This can lead to these types of less experienced Business Analysts to feel under valued and as if they are not making a huge contribution in the early parts of their careers.
Specialism #2: The Business Analyst with a focussed skill set
This type of speciality involves a Business Analyst who chooses a particular area within Business Analysis to specialize in. They choose a focus area such as Enterprise Analysis, Business Process Management, Business Intelligence or Agile Projects, to name a few and only work within these types of environments or projects. They therefore become very experienced within a particular methodology, technique or process and can apply themselves with a high level of efficiency in a short period of time. They develop a ‘knack’ for their area of expertise within the profession of Business Analysis and can almost start adding value right from the start when taking on a new project or piece of work.
The advantages of developing a major skill set like this is that you become an expert within a particular field of Business Analysis and start to see results in your career achievements earlier than what you may have if you specialized in a diverse skill set. People recognise you for your speciality and can see the value you can add to them much easier than some of the other speciality Business Analysis roles.
The main disadvantage of this speciality would be that you limit your ability to move between different organisations or projects in that you are restricted to working within the type of environments who are in need of your specific Business Analysis speciality. Another risk of specialising your Business Analysis career like this is that if your speciality falls out of favour in the market or perhaps you loose touch with the latest developments in your area, you may be stuck with expertise that no one wants anymore. This is fairly unlikely providing you choose a focus area that is reasonably widely practiced and you stay in touch with the industry by continuously updating your skills.
Specialism #3: The Business Analyst within a specific industry
This type of Business Analyst decided to develop their Business Analysis skills, techniques and tools within a specific industry or subject matter area for large parts of their careers. The main purpose of doing this is to blend your professional Business Analysis skills with a particular industry’s subject matter expertise. This way the Business Analyst can contribute beyond the realm of Business Analysis by adding a subject matter layer to the outputs they produced in their work. Examples of this would be Business Analysts that only work within the Banking sector and potentially specialize even further in an area such as Payment Systems or Home loans.
The major advantage of a Business Analyst with this type of speciality is that they can typically add a deeper level of value on a project or within an operational environment because of that subject matter expertise they have gained. They will be favoured by recruiters who are looking for Business Analysts for a particular industry or subject matter expertise.
The main disadvantages would be that as with the second Business Analysis speciality type covered in this article, the work opportunities would be limited to a particular sector or subject matter area. It can be said these types of Business Analysts also runs the risk of diluting their Professional Business Analysis skills and experience by blending it with a specific subject matter area. The boundaries between Business Analysis and the Subject Matter area become less obvious to the untrained or inexperienced professional.
Generally the market is moving towards speciality #2 and speciality #3 and Business Analysts should consider these two specialities with a view to enhance their future Business Analysis careers. In future, being a Professional Business Analyst will be important and because our profession is widening its coverage more and more, it will be highly recommended that you add one of the suggested specialities to your career to ensure success.
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