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Developing a Business Analysis Career Model   

By Angela Wick Garay, CBAP, PMP   
Organizations all over the globe are taking notice of Business Analysts and their careers. One of the key steps in attracting, retaining and developing Business Analyst talent is creating a solid Business Analyst Career Model. 
Where to start?
Look at the current job descriptions for BAs. I find that many organizations have outdated job descriptions.  They describe the BA's role and responsibilities as a mix of project management, systems analysis, developer, tester and administrator.
While many BA job titles require and demand that BAs play multiple roles, their job descriptions do not emphasize what BAs should be focused on—understanding context, identifying needs, defining the value a solution or change will bring, and ensuring maximum value through the project cycle.
Job descriptions drive so many pieces in organizations.
  • The recruiting process, what potential candidates see as their potential role, and what recruiters look for in résumés.
  • The onboarding process—expectation setting of BAs on day one.
  • The compensation management process—what BAs are paid for their job role and level.  What Human Resources uses to determine pay ranges for the job description based on market data for the job responsibilities.
  • How others in the organization view the BA Role.
  • Criteria for performance and promotions—what BAs need to demonstrate to get promoted or receive performance based compensation.
  • What development plan options and training are mapped to the job role.
Once job descriptions are in place and they accurately reflect the role your organization desires for BAs, you can focus on career ladder and competency development.
Career ladder considerations:
  • What are the entry points (internal and external) on the BA role ladder for your organization? This is critical. You need to plan how to incorporate new BA talent into your organization as it grows.
  • What career options are there for BAs to exit the career ladder if the BA role is not a good fit?
  • What career options are there for BAs once they have mastered the most senior role on the career ladder? In order to retain your ambitious senior BAs, it is critical to provide career options above and beyond the BA career ladder.
Each ladder in the BA career model should have corresponding competencies. The competencies should align to the job requirements for each step on the career ladder. The competencies should include criteria describing behaviors and skills required to meet the requirements for each step.
Tying job descriptions, career ladder and competencies together is a strong and necessary approach for many organizations looking to attract, retain, and foster great business analysis. Done well,  this approach makes salary and promotions align to skill level and performance (instead of tenure). It also lays the groundwork for a BA training program needed to build competencies and foster skills.
Developing a BA career model is an important investment in your organization. It shows current and prospective BAs that your organization values BA talent and contributions. 
Developing and implementing a career model can be done in stages, over time. The process requires collaboration between HR and leaders of teams that work with BAs, directly or indirectly. It is a rewarding experience that sets the foundation for a happy and growing BA practice!   
Tools for Developing a BA Career Model: 
About the Author

Angela is an author of the Developing Business Analysis Career Models chapter of the Managing Business Analysts book from IIBA®. She is also the chair of the IIBA Competency Model Committee and on the Core Committee for the BABOK® Guide v3 leading the Techniques and Underlying Competencies Chapters.  Angela is CEO of BA-Squared, LLC providing consulting and training services for BACoEs, BA Competency Development, BA Best Practices, and Innovation and Creativity for BAs.  Meet her and hear her speak at BBC 2013 in Las Vegas.