It depends. If you start the project with a well-defined idea and your efforts are focused on working through the details, you might work with a handful of business stakeholders and very closely with the implementation team on the functional requirements. Alternatively, there might be a fair amount of exploration to be done before the idea can even crystallize. In these cases you start further within the business by exploring the business processes and opportunities.
Depending on how the role is defined within your organization, you might take the project requirements to the last detail in each screen or you might finish the project with a high-level flow and set of features and someone else might work through the details. Some organizations split the role into two by employing a business analyst who focuses more on the business side of the process and delivers business requirements and a systems or requirements analyst who fleshes out the business requirements into functional specifications within a system or set of systems.
Will I have work-life balance?
Few people like to bring their job home. As far as career choices go, especially within technology, a fulltime BA position with a local company is probably one that least infringes on home life. (This answer is going to be very different for independent consultants or individuals working as business analysts for a consulting company.)
Because the bulk of your work is in the upfront stages of a project, your activities tend not to be quite as deadline driven. (There are many exceptions to this. I’ve also started on projects where the development team is ready to start 2-4 weeks down the road. This creates a lot of short-term pressure to get the scope right and get some details defined until you can get ahead of the development team.)
How will my work be defined?
Business analysts are typically given a fair amount of freedom in their work and how they accomplish their objectives. In an organization with a formal software development process, the outputs of your work may be fairly well defined and you may need to strictly adhere to some established templates and frameworks.
There might also be formal gates that each project goes through and a BA will have a critical role in bringing a project through the initial gates. In an organization with less formality or in a Copyright © 2010 by Laura Brandenburg 12 How to Start a Business Analyst Career situation where you are the first BA within an organization you might have the opportunity to create the requirements process.
Who will I report to?
In a matrix organization you will have both a project manager to report to for project-specific deliverables and a functional manager, who will oversee the overall process and your work as a business analyst. In some organizations, the project manager is also the BA’s supervisor.
Once I master the basics, will it continue to be a challenge?
The business analyst role involves one challenge after another. If you are not trying to identify a new business problem, then you are wrestling with a new communication situation. You’ll often have opportunities to stay abreast of technology trends and experiment with new tools and techniques. But as roles are blending more and more, understanding new applications for technology is becoming of increasing importance.