How do you build up on domain skills required for a business analyst?

Im looking for a career change and want to be a business analyst.

I have 3 years technical exp. On going through requirements of a bus analyst, I belierve I have all other skills like knowledge of tools, documentation skills, good language and communication skills, experience in liasoning wiht clients etc..

But one area where I lack is th edomain knowledge… how do I build up on it?

I am not very choosy about the domain im looking for…. could be anything, but I need a clear path as to how I can build my domain skills [my current proj is purely tech and offers no scope to gather domain knowledge].

Does a business analyst need domain knowledge to be hired?

Business domain knowledge is the knowledge of a specific industry, a specialized business operation in that industry, the business’s competition or imminent challenges and the client/company’s culture and business processes.

An important responsibility of the business analyst is to help business stakeholders identify problems and define objectives.

Having business domain knowledge can only make the business analyst more competent and resourceful in carrying out this responsibility.

So must a business analyst have domain knowledge to be hired? Not necessarily, an analyst with good analysis skills will be able to do an adequate job without deep business domain knowledge but it’s understandable to accept that an analyst with strong business sense of the operation will more quickly identify the right questions and the right solutions for the problem.

Domain knowledge is very important to the recruiter who is trying to fill a job opportunity that involves complex changes to business processes or complex data analysis related to domain specific operation.

These recruiters will include a domain specific terms in filtering their search for resumes. If your resume does not include that domain, it won’t make the shortlist, even if you have great business analysis skills.

So how can you build up domain knowledge and expertise?

1. By acquiring hands-on experience over a period of time. Only by actually doing the ‘business’ can a business analyst gain domain knowledge.

If you are changing careers, the industry and operation you are already trained in will be of great advantage to you.

2. By testing business applications, working with the business users and developing thought patterns like that of a business user.

3. By getting certified in your chosen domain field. E.g. AICPCU/IIA and LOMA offer domain certification in insurance and financial services respectively.

Keep in mind you only need to worry about acquiring domain knowledge if you are applying to domain specific business analyst job postings such as those for finance, marketing or customer relationship management (CRM) domains.

If on the other hand you are looking for generalist business analyst opportunities for which IT business analyst training is the usual requirement, you need not worry about acquiring domain knowledge for now.

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One Response to "How do you build up on domain skills required for a business analyst?"

  1. ccallahansanto   November 30, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Generally, the best business analysts are domain experts such as accountants, CPAs, for many years and then they “cross over” to their respective IT departments.

    They communicate the business requirements in IT-speak to the factory workers in the IT department. They communicate the IT limitations to the business units in normal-business-speak (without all that technical jargon).

    You may want to look at the various domains and consider whether or not you have the educational experience to apply for an entry level position in that domain. You may take a step backward in pay, but over time you will build domain knowledge and be able to leverage both your technical and domain experience in a business analyst position.

    Another job title you may want to consider is that of “Product Analyst” or “Product Manager”. While the definition of these positions vary significantly from company to company, there generally is a path for aspiring technical folks to move into these types of positions. Experience a job such as this may position you for some types of business analyst work.

    The Product Analyst/Manager positions in software companies spend time gathering customer requirements and documenting them for the development team. They are usually involved heavily during the software release cycle, sometimes even leading the QA efforts.

    Best wishes and good luck to you.


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