Can a Developer Make a Good Business Analyst?

Computer Programmers Learning Business Analysis
Computer Programmers Learning Business Analysis

I have been talking to a number of software developers, interested in changing roles to business analysis. If you are one of those software developers, then this post is written to show you how to switch careers from software development 🙂

There seems to be some bias against switching roles to business analysis from software development. It’s a subtle form of discrimination from folks who stereotype all software developers as nerds with poor presentation and communication skills!

But is that really true? Are you poorly suited for a business analysis role just because you’re a software developer?

On the contrary, software developers can make good business analysts and I will dedicate the rest of this post to debunking this myth … just as I have done with several urban legends on this blog 🙂

There are several reasons why a software developer like you would be interested in changing careers to business analysis and some of these could be:

  1. The Junior Programmer: you are new to computer programming and you are not enjoying it. Hence you wonder if you will be better suited for business analysis

  2. The Experienced Software Developer: you have learned all you can about software development and would like to start a new, challenging career in business analysis.

  3. The Accidental Business Analyst: you take on the roles of a business analyst at your company and you want to get formal recognition as a business analyst for your efforts.

  4. The Soft Skilled Developer: based on your communication, presentation or analysis skills, you feel that you will make a good business analyst.

  5. The Competent Developer: you are seen as being highly competent or responsible by your manager and because of that, you have been tasked with additional business analysis responsibilities..

Whatever the reasons for changing roles to business analysis, you are in for some good news … you are wanted by the job market!

Contrary to what you may think, having a formal software development background can actually prove to be a bonus or an advantage and here are some of the reasons why:

  • Right Background: IT business analysts are required to have a good understanding of the software development life cycle.

    Your background in software development can be used to fulfill that requirement easily.

  • Better Fit: IT managers need business analysts who can understand developers and talk with them at the system level.

    That means having enough technical knowledge to create UML diagrams or entity relationship models or even help translate business requirements into technical specifications.

  • Reduce Risk: IT shops need business analysts with a technical or systems background so that they won’t be at a lost in a challenging or complex software development project.

    When managers undertake a complex software development process, they want to reduce risk by hiring business analysts who can bridge the gap between the software development team and business because of their software developer background.

So, having a software development background puts you at an advantage in such situations.

Can you Market Yourself: The good news is that your software developer background does not have to count against you at the job interview and that is where this article becomes quite helpful!

First, you have to be sure of the value you will bring to your job if you are hired as a business analyst. Next, you have to convey that value clearly to the hiring manager!

So, using this article as reference, elicit all the reasons why hiring you will be helpful and then work on how to convey that to your hiring manager.

Now you’ve learnt how to switch from a traditional software developer role to a business analyst role … it is time to take action!

7 Responses to "Can a Developer Make a Good Business Analyst?"

  1. Santosh   May 4, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I am currently a BA. Off late I have realised that coding interests me a lot. So can I make the transition into the role of a developer. To develop the application for which i have gathered the requirement or consulted for should be quite satisfying.

    • Jamie   May 5, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      Of course you can, developing is a bit like learning a new language. Choose the language you’d like to learn (C#, VB, C++, Java are the common ones).

      Just like using a travelers dictionary, google or buy a book for examples and tutorial on the language and get started.

      When you think you’ve learnt enough words to speak a few sentences, put them into action (start coding). There are hundreds of web sites with tutorials and syntax examples.

      You will need some sort of compiler to cut and test your code depending on the language you’ve chosen.

      Try building something simple first. Your BA background should help you understand the logic and mapping to get you started.

      The more you can speak (code) the better you will be. You will need to gain reasonable experience before you are employable for this job.

  2. Tejas Mehta   February 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I’m a propective Business Analyst (BA) and have some doubts to be cleared.
    Is it necessary that BA, need to be a good developer and should have excellence in any coding language?
    Thanks in advance for your understanding and reponse.

    • Jamie   March 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      I’ve been developing software for over 15 years now and have decided to become a BA in software development.

      As far as your question goes, in my opinion the answer is no. However, as a software developer I have worked hand in hand with BA’s, PM’s and everyone else involved in the SDLC.

      Also I know where to expect “brick walls” and other challenges within a project from a developers point of view.

      Knowing the correct questions to ask, alternative procedures,functions and data gathering concepts can put you a step ahead.

      This is only valid when SDLC is important in the project.

      • IT Career Coach   April 11, 2011 at 10:32 am


        I agree with your answers to Tejas Mehta … however even when SDLC is not involved, the Business Analys (BA) should endeavor to learn the terms / terminologies relevant to that Software Development process, won’t you agree?

        • Jamie   April 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm

          I agree. By understanding the SDLC process, you will already be on right track at the very beginning. Knowing what to look for and how you will or can’t manipulate the data is a big head start already.

    • IT Career Coach   April 11, 2011 at 10:30 am

      I agree with Jamie … a Business Analyst does not have to be a developer (good or bad) in other to be a Business Analyst … however like Jamie pointed out, learning the SDLC process and having a strong understanding of the phases, activities, challenges, terms and terminologies involved in constructing Software will help you

      Best Wishes


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