How to Start Business Analysis After a Career in Computer Programming

How To Start A Business Analyst Career
How To Start A Business Analyst Career

Identifying your transferable skills is the first step towards successfully transitioning, changing or starting a new business analysis career.

Though this article is written for those starting a business analysis career after having worked as a computer programmer, the principles presented here are helpful to anyone interested in starting any new career.

The first step in starting a new career is building self-confidence by recognizing that the career you are transitioning to has some relationship or similarity to the jobs you have performed in the past.

It is important to take this first step of identifying your transferable skills because it instills self-confidence, reduces anxiety and helps you bridge the gap to a new career.

We like what we are familiar with and we feel more tense, anxious or uncertain about unfamiliar or new environments because we are not sure that we can cope or succeed in them.

So, taking this first step of identifying your transferable skills will do wonders for your self-confidence and career success.

Identify Your Transferable Skills

Did you realize that the skills you develop as a computer programmer go beyond purely coding skills?

As a computer programmer, you perform a number of tasks or roles at different points in your career which will assist you in starting a new business analysis career.

Start by making an inventory of your current skills and then identify those that will assist you in bridging the gap between your computer programming and business analyst career.

Some of these transferable skills may include:

  • Networking
  • Requirements gathering
  • Requirements documentation
  • Technical writing
  • Oral and written communication
  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills

Here are additional pointers to the role of transferable skills in starting a new business analysis career.

Transition your Leadership Skills

The typical software developer is a heads-down coder who focuses on specific tasks and does not think in terms of the big picture or pay attention to it (not a big picture thinker).

However, if you have been a technical or team lead, then you are comfortable with thinking and working on the big picture and at the same time, managing all the smaller details that accompany developing software such as:

  1. Estimating, planning or assigning tasks with project managers
  2. Gathering or validating requirements for the developers with business analysts
  3. Planning iterations, releases or builds with release managers
  4. Hiring new team members with IT Management
  5. Validating high-level business cases, user stories, vision and scope documents with the business team (directors, senior management, power users, customers and business analysts).

In this leadership and big-picture role, you would have learned how to delegate tasks, solve human problems as opposed to purely coding issues and worked with all sorts of professionals: customers, IT / project managers, business team etc.

This ability to work with, relate or communicate with different types of corporate users is a skill that you will transfer to your new business analysis career.

Transition your Technical Writing Skills

Technical writing is a skill that is frequently practiced or exercised by senior software developers and technical or team leads.

This is because from time to time you are asked to write software manuals, create help files or document the internal workings of software systems with Use Cases or UML.

Even in companies where there is a full-time technical writer, you may be asked to assist with documenting the procedures, business processes, architecture or business requirements because the technical writers cannot keep up with the volume of work!

So, you have probably practiced or exercised written communication skills which are transferable to your new career in business analysis!

Transition your Software Requirements Gathering Skills

Many developers have had to gather, analyze, validate and document software requirements at some time in their careers because their team lacked enough dedicated business analysis resources.

In this role, you would have had to identify the critical stakeholders or customers, elicit and analyze their requirements, document and validate the requirements with your software development or management team.

In this role you would also have practiced critical thinking and analytical skills, developed or managed professional relationships and exercised vital oral communication and networking skills.

Here is the main takeaway from this post for you

  1. Take an inventory of your skills
  2. Identify your transferable skills
  3. Bridge the gap to your business analyst career using your transferable skills

This post discusses how to start a new business analyst career. Follow the steps outline in this post to instill self-confidence in your abilities or bridge the gap between your current occupation and your desired career in business analysis.

15 Responses to "How to Start Business Analysis After a Career in Computer Programming"

  1. Jan H   January 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    I am sure I’m not alone when I report that I have spent more than 15 years as a Software Engineer for one of the largest IT corporations in the world, yet find myself at a disadvantage because of the internal trappings of job descriptions.

    While I was more of an “associate project manager” in several positions, I was also responsible for component code. I was a team lead responsible for deliverables, requirements planning, several re-engineering projects, (technical, and internal processes)

    The scope of my responsibilities never seemed to lend enough time for professional certification, and the lack of certification prevented me from assuming the title officially elsewhere in the company.

    This dead end is why I left in November. Now I am learning that while I thought I was most interested in pursuing process and knowledge management, the more appropriate field is business analyst, a position I had always equated with
    our software group and its business clients, spread sheets and financials.

    It is very frustrating to see “perfect” job descriptions online, knowing that I will need to invest significant time into reinventing myself on paper to pass through a recruiter filter, when I want to pick up the phone, call the hiring
    manager and say “THAT is what I DO BEST! Give me 5 minutes and I promise you will want a full interview!!!” If only it could be that easy!

    If I were to sum my top accomplishments, and my passions during my career I would say:
    I gather requirements, assess current processes, methods of support, dependencies and risks, and design ways to
    streamline and create sustainable solutions:

    *Help line item owners accurately assess the resource demands
    *Ensure that the final product is supportable, servicable, and adaptable.
    *Enable and promote shared knowledge to:
    -Reduce overhead for the next iteration/generation
    -Allow self-training and portability for the technical team
    -Design product support structure which allow the most efficient and affordable self help for users

    What do YOU think? Should I start crossing the bridge to BA?

  2. Sooraj   September 14, 2010 at 5:23 am

    I have around 5 yrs of IT experience. I’m involved in all phases of software development.

    Currently, I am little disillusioned as I am not too much active in development for past 2 years and my current profile is more on managing team of 3-4 people like looking their development work, helping them in analyzing requirements(though not working fully as business analyst), acting as interface between different modules(i.e because of my experience in my project, I can understand which module should be working on the requirements etc.

    Problem is, I’m not clear about my role. Its like Jack of all trades, master of none.

    I want to move on to a career of Business analyst but not sure of my skills and capabilities as in current project,not much emphasis is put to follow proper “standards” & “procedures” so have not got chance to develop the level of skills required outside in the job market.

    Please help me now how I can go and proceed towards the career in Business analysis.

    Also note, I’m working in Knowledge management domain and not finding job opportunities outside as business analyst in this domain.

    I want to move to finance/banking domain at this stage but not sure if this will be a wise move or not.and if it is, what are options in front of me.

    • IT Career Coach   September 14, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      Start a business analysis career by arranging your current work around your career aspiratins and goals.

      In other words, instead of seeing this as a problem, take it as an opportunity to build your resume.

      1.) Start by Learning Business Analysis

      2.) After you Learn Business aanlysis, coach your team on the usefulness or value of good business analysis practices. Believe me, you will run into the same issues when you leave … you will find that not everyone is sold on the value of “Good Requirements Management Practices” for example, so better start practicing that.

      3.) Look out for opportunities to practice your newly found business analysis skills at the current job and then build your resume.

      4.) Get a full-time business analysis job somewhere else after you’ve built your resume up.

  3. Jonathan   September 14, 2010 at 5:19 am

    The current challenge will be finding the right process to re-orient my career from Web Producer to an introductory Junior position as Business Analyst.

    I don’t hold any qualification in Business neither as Business Analyst but I am fully dedicated to becoming one.

    I have just started reading books and doing research about this position and the responsibilities it entails.

    I have studied Communication Studies and handle Web Producer responsibilities for 2 years.

    I would very appreciated any information or tips on how to get into that field of work.

    I am looking to do a MBA in Business in a few years in order to increase my knowledge and facilitate the job chances.

    • IT Career Coach   September 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm

      1. Taking an MBA is an indirect way to become a Business Analyst.
      Here is what you need to do:

      2.) Learn Business Analysis: invest the time, money or resources to learn business analysis … note that this is not the same thing as going back to school, getting more educational qualifictions or getting a masters.

      3.) Practice what you know. Why you are still at your current job, volunteer to take on business analysis tasks that will help your team. or example, as a web Producer, you can volunteer to gather, analyze and document the Requirements for each website that you produce for your clients.

      4.) Build your resume up and then get a full-time business analysis job with the combination of learning, practical skills and hands-on experience gathered at your current employer as well as good working references.

      Click here to start by taking the first step to learning business analysis:

  4. Eri   September 14, 2010 at 5:15 am

    I am currently working as a sr software developer and want to change job to a business analyst.

    How should i start searching and what would my CV look like?

    • IT Career Coach   September 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

      You can’t start searching for a business analyst job or change your CV t look like that of a business analyst.

      1. Changing your CV to look like that of a business analyst will not make you a business analyst. Because you still don’t know how to do a business analysts job and you don’t have any busness analysis skills.

      2. Searching for a business analyst job won’t help you either until you learn business analysis. You are putting the cart before the horse. Your question should be, “How Do I Learn Business Analysis” or “What Should I Learn About Business Analysis” 🙂

  5. Raymond   August 18, 2010 at 3:11 am

    I have been working in programming role for 4 years and I wanna change my job nature as a business analyst.

    What shall I need to prepare ?

    Would you give me advice for details ?

    • IT Career Coach   August 21, 2010 at 11:14 pm
      1. Identify your transferable skills and your skills gap.
      2. Based on the results of analyzing your transferanle skills and skills gap, bridge the gaps you’ve identified through private studies, coaching, training and supplementing your hands-on experience at your current employer or job.
      3. Volunteer for as many jobs as it takes to help you create a portfolio of business analyst roles and jobs that you’ve performed.
      4. Based on all these, look for a full-time business analyst job!

      Notice that I said that you should supplement your hands-on experience at your current employer. So many folks start out worrying about finding volunteer jobs when they can get additional hands-on experience at their current place of employment just by being more creative!

      • raymond   August 22, 2010 at 9:02 pm

        I get your meaning as you mention that I should supplement my hands-on experience. But i have difficulties to find the opportunities. So could I take any courses or training that I can earn the experience ?

        • ITCareerCoach   April 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

          Don’t put the cart before the horse. Start by taking the time to learn business analysis before you start working on opportunities for handson experience.

          The reason why I say this is that: “Without Learning Business Analysis”, you will not be qualified for an Internship position … because you won’t be able to perform the tasks assigned to you … Does That Make Sense? It is sort of the adage .. when the student is ready, the teacher will appear!

    • IT Career Coach   August 22, 2010 at 10:21 pm

      Start Your Business Analyst Career With your Current Employer.

      Don’t focus on external opportunities for hands-on experience because it is harder to priove yourself to someone who you’ve never worked for.

      Make frioends with the business analysts in your team or with their managers and volunteer to do perform some work for them … technical writing, documentation, etc.

      Many of the firms that I’ve consulted for do not have enough business analysts to handle the volume of work that comes their way and your firm is probably hard up for BA skills too!

      Put one foot in front of the other: take a step by step approach towards getting hands-on experience and starting a new business analysis career. Don’t be like those who refuse to take small steps (getting trained, volunteering for BA tasks at their current firm) because they feel that it takes a full-time BA job to get experience.

      This doesn’t work a lot of the times because no-one would like to trust you with a full-time job when you haven’t gotten even the tiniest, weeny bit of experience!

      If you can’t convince your current employer to give you some tasks, what makes you think that a total stranger will pay you a full-time salary?

      Think of movie stars … they build up their resume by working their way up from the bottom through accepting any role that allows them to develop or showcase their talents until … they get that big role.

      The Business Analyst Boot Camp follow this principle in that it offers you a chance to perform specific hands-on business analysis tasks and assignments.

      You can get more information on the business analyst boot camp by clicking here …

      • raymond   August 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

        Would you give me a chance to preform specific hands-on business analysts tasks and assignments by voluntary aspect ?

        • IT Career Coach   August 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm

          Before you qualify for volunteer assignments, you need to spend at least 1 month in business analyst training.

          This guarantees us that you can do a minimally good job.

          You also have to do your work remotely … because our training is online.

          You will be working in a volunteer capacity, so you will not be paid or compensated monetarily.

          You will have to show a lot of personal initiative and leadership because we won;t be able to babysit you. This again means that you will have to pay detailed attention to the training before you start volunteering … so that you are productive.

          You will not be able to insist on the type of work that you will do … some want to insist that they work in a pharma or telco or financial industry … but we can only offer you tasks that make sense to our business …


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