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Exploring the Four Core Roles of Business Analysis  

By Maureen McVey, CBAP, Head of Learning and Development IIBA  

imageTo be successful as a business analyst, you must have the skills, knowledge and experience that align to this role. In addition, I would say you must be curious, a problem solver and someone who enjoys working with people to be happy in your work as a BA. These are foundational skills and competencies that will support you as you navigate your career.
 
There are four primary business analysis roles that serve as the foundation for all other BA roles within an organization. These roles are like the trunk of a tree supporting the branches or other BA roles within an organization. The IIBA® Business Analysis Competency Model (v3.0) describes these as “generalist profiles and include; Entry Level Business Analyst, Junior Business Analyst, Intermediate Business Analyst and a Senior Business Analyst.” Here is a description of each.
 
Entry Level BA 
 
This person will be new to the BA role, and has an academic understanding of the tasks and techniques used in business analysis. He or she has little practical experience and should work under close supervision. 
 
Often, this person brings to the role the experience and competencies necessary to be successful as a BA. He/she could have been in customer service, applying the communication and problem solving skills learned to his/her new role as a BA. If he/she comes from software testing, this detail oriented person will have experience reading requirements and creating test cases—which in essence are well-written testable requirements. A sales person coming into the role will have applied verbal and written skills to understand the customer’s need and propose a solution. 
 
A graduate from a university or college program focused on business analysis will be ready to apply that knowledge in small projects while working with more Senior BAs, thus obtaining the much needed experience to move to the next level.
 
Junior Business Analyst
 
After a year or two of experience, defining business needs, gathering and analyzing information and validating the business solution, the entry level BA is ready to take on small initiatives with some supervision from more senior business analysts. Most of the work this person performs should be reviewed by a mentor or coach. This BA will be an asset on any large project acting as a scribe in requirements sessions, organizing and modeling requirements for analysis, and reviewing requirements to ensure they are clear and unambiguous. Once he/she demonstrates proficiency in identifying gaps in requirements this person will be ready to write requirements for complex initiatives under the supervision of a more senior team member.
 
Intermediate Business Analyst
 
This BA is ready to work independently on complex projects and is confident working on smaller projects without supervision. He/she has a good working knowledge of most, if not all, areas of business analysis. At this point, the BA has the qualifications for the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA®) designation, and can gain senior level experience working with Entry Level and Junior BA resources. Building his/her skills in creating business cases, defining metrics and key performance indicators, and managing business analysis performance are just a few activities and techniques that will prepare them for more senior roles within the organization. 
 
Senior Business Analyst
 
This BA has years of deep practical experience in the role and applies their skills and various techniques to complex initiatives. He/she will work independently, as well as plan and lead large projects. The person is well-versed in most of the business analysis knowledge areas in A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) and is qualified for the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) designation. 
 
Can you identify yourself in one of these generalist roles? This is the first step in determining the best planning for your career. The next step will be to educate others in your organization, such as HR and business departments of the value of the business analyst, the skills, knowledge—the competencies—that help the business to identify and choose the issues that need to be solved. No matter the job level, the BA collaborates with stakeholders to define the best solution, thus ensuring the contributions of all parties paint a complete picture. The BA is an advocate of the business ensuring the resulting solution will align with organizational strategy and the needs of the customer.
 
Metaphorically, the roles described above represent the trunk of the tree. Throughout 2013, IIBA will be defining the roles that represent the branches of the tree. The four core roles are the foundation of good business analysis, giving us what we need to further define our expertise in areas such as process, technology, data and information analytics and architecture. 2013 is the Year of the Business Analyst Career, and IIBA is working diligently on your behalf to educate and promote professional development opportunities for you. 
 
©iStockphoto.com/Kerstin Waurick