The Future of Business Analysis

Business analysis is consistently showing up on lists of top careers for today and the future. But the future of business analysis looks a lot different than the past.

The Future

Of Business Analysis is Bright!

Key changes in the evolution of great business analysis practices of today and the future include:

  • The business analysis role as a requirements note taker is a thing of the past. (In my opinion, this never was the role of a great BA!)
  • The days of long requirements specification documents are over.
  • The idea that a BA has a dedicated series of weeks or even months to “complete” a requirements package and get sign off is now an ancient practice.
  • The concept that a BA reports to a PM and that PM is the next career milestone for a BA has long expired.

Business analysis in agile and digital is here! And, it’s impacting all organizations!

The high-performing business analysts of today and the future are curious, strategic, experiential, constantly learning, facilitative, extremely collaborative, explorative with hypotheses and amazing communicators (visually, verbally, and written). They foster strong relationships, have the courage to stand up for value and the end customer, keep up on the latest technology trends, and understand the value they can provide to teams.

The traditional business analyst of the past must leave behind the ghosts of BA past. To be successful today and in the future, BAs must change their mindsets and behaviors, and learn new, modern skills.

Many traditional skills are still important, but it’s how they are used and incorporated into the team that changes. It’s important that BAs learn these new ways of working to stay relevant and continue to add value to teams. Without changing, BAs will simply become dead weight for teams and be left behind.

Old Practices

Scope the whole project out at the beginning.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Create a solution or product vision to guide the team.

Create/define impact metric. Work with the team on understanding how to know if the solution is making the intended difference we wanted and needed.

Use some scoping tools and techniques like user story mapping, journey mapping, and scope diagrams to foster the conversations that are critical to a shared understanding of the problem, opportunity and vision.

Define requirements and deliver small chunks, folding these small pieces into existing systems, or developing a new system to deploy the slimmest version of something. Learn, analyze, deploy, repeat!

Old Practices

Schedule a bunch of elicitation sessions with stakeholders for weeks or months to gather requirements.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Work collaboratively with the team and stakeholders to discover the user needs as you peel back layers, only digging into the details of the most important slices.

Meet with the team and stakeholders weekly to discuss the upcoming priorities, user feedback and backlog refinements.

Observe users and use data insights to better understand the user’s changing needs in their own context.

Hypothesize and experiment with unknowns and assumptions about the user, the data, the process, the system, etc…. identify and drive these hypothesis and experiments.

Old Practices

Take direction from a project manager on how to do BA work.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

BAs are leaders too! Know your craft and do it well. There are many roles BAs work with who have BA experience. Use them as mentors, but ultimately own your practice and self-manage.

Old Practices

Develop a specification document with incredible detail, including functional design and elaborate on every possible thing a feature can do.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Refine a backlog and use analysis assets to inspire analysis and conversation among the team and stakeholders.

Let the development team design with your involvement and others to truly get the best possible design. Work in layers, broad brush, test out assumptions, learn, then add more detail.

Old Practices

Focus on the system, data flow, and capabilities and features as a base for requirements.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Focus on the user goals, user context and journey and impact metrics as a basis for analysis.

The system, data, features and capabilities are important, but only within the context of the user and desired results.

Old Practices

Schedule a review meeting when the requirements package is ready for review to seek sign off.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Meet weekly with the team and stakeholders to discuss the next upcoming requirements.

Meet monthly to plan releases (or more often if you can release more often!).

Meet every 2 months to discuss and update the roadmap based on learnings, feedback, and other changes internal and external to the team.

Old Practices

Walk the stakeholders through the requirements package line by line and ask for questions and feedback as part of approval.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Focus on dialog and conversation to get a shared understanding rather than reviewing text line by line.

Old Practices

Rewrite the requirements document many times based on all feedback.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Use visual models and powerful user context-based conversations to elicit and analyze. It’s faster than reviewing and rewriting requirements.

Old Practices

Create a spreadsheet to prioritize the requirements.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Use your backlog to show priorities and make it transparent and changeable.

Old Practices

Guess at what solution design will be the most effective.

Take what the architect or tech lead brings you as the final design.

Whatever the stakeholder asked for they get, they asked for a specific design.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Meet as a team to discuss the user need, user context.
Explore many options and alternatives to solve for the user need. Together discuss the options that will get the best result.

Get feedback as quick as possible along the way to avoid rework. Learn quickly! Then adjust and adapt.

Old Practices

Spend 30-50% percent of your time manually testing the solution.

New and Future Direction Of Practice

Help others analyze and develop automation test cases.

Being a BA today is exciting! It will continue to be a great career that is complex, challenging and rewarding! With the right mindset, skills, and commitment to continuous learning, the BA career can take you in many directions.

The BA-Squared Approach
At BA-Squared, we are passionate about keeping BAs learning and improving as practices change and evolve. We help organizations, teams and individuals upskill and modernize their business analysis practices.

Our training is relevant and modern, while being practical and actionable!

Our onsite courses are top rated by clients, conference producers and attendees. They are known for being highly interactive and full of insights that inspire new thought patterns. Every course provides practice opportunities that motivate teams to change their practices for the betterment of their customers and stakeholders. Having Angela teach onsite provides the spark teams need to be inspired to do great analysis!

Our new online platform, BA-Cube.com, provides a multi-dimensional learning environment for professionals with business analysis responsibilities.

BA-Cube combines live virtual events and on-demand resources to challenge, motivate and continuously upskill BAs. BA-Cube members enjoy exploring topics relevant to their immediate needs, on their own time, at the level of depth they desire. They also choose how they learn—independently, with BA experts during live events or with peers in discussion forums. From a quick-tip video, to an in-depth 2-hour live interactive course, or an hour-long mentoring panel, BA-Cube is there for you and your team!

Angela Wick, BA-Squared’s principal trainer and BA-Cube.com founder, is a globally recognized expert in business analysis.