Career Pathing for the Business Architect and the Business Analyst

leaderteamBPL140Delineate a path for analysts and architects upward through your organization. Better yet, make a stint as an analyst or architect a favored stop for the ambitious.

Business architect and business analyst roles often sit as outliers or side paths within an organization’s career ladder. That’s a state of affairs that sells the organization short by wasting the tremendous volume of business knowledge and insight that these roles gain during their tenure. It also can frustrate and demoralize those architects and analysts who aspire to high-level roles within the organization.

Mark Clear Entry Points
Don’t just let analysts and architects happen. Instead, recruit for the roles. Look for people both inside and outside the organization who:

  1. Communicate well
  2. Do well with both quick thinking and deep thought
  3. Focus on driving to solutions
  4. Can both collaborate and keep themselves on task

Cultivate these people. Funnel them into business analyst and business architect roles, and give them a clear path upward.

Set Distinct But Interrelated Paths
There’s a natural progression for both of these roles that involves taking on more and more challenging and complex work and being able to speak to an ever-growing portion of the enterprise. In addition, as people progress within the role, they’ll improve their ability to synthesize and abstract and to understand the direction of the organization as a whole. However, you should resist the temptation to make business architect the capstone of the business analyst’s career progression within your organization.

You should expect a considerable amount of flow between the roles. However, it’s also the case that some business analysts will prefer to stay in roles where their hands remain consistently in the details, rather than rising to the more tactical and strategic analysis levels more common to business architects. That’s not only fine, but desirable—the enterprise needs skilled thinkers who enjoy the granular life.

The reverse of this is more problematic, however. While business architects don’t live in the details, they must be able to speak to them comprehensively when needed and to identify how small, granular items can have large, enterprise-wide consequences. As such, a stint as a business analyst and mastery of the business analyst’s toolset can go a long way toward helping a business architect build and maintain credibility. Make sure that your architects either have served as business analysts or can do a convincing impersonation of someone who has.

Make Clear That the Roles Are Suitable for Any Career Stage
Finally, make sure that people throughout the organization see these roles not only as important to the enterprise, but also as potentially valuable stopping points on their own career paths.

  1. Entry-level and young professional: The business analyst role is one of the best ways for starter employees to learn about a portion of the organization in depth and to gain an understanding of the organization’s broader functions. During this stage, involvement in business architecture activities can serve as a great introduction to strategic thinking and planning.
  2. Mid-career: People with several years of experience on their resumes can bring considerable perspective and knowledge to the business analyst role. It enables them to get a broader view of how the organization functions. The business architect role can enable mid-career employees who have strong analytical and soft skills to engage in the difficult work of departmental, divisional, and enterprise visioning, modeling, and planning.
  3. Experienced professional: Both roles are natural channels for the knowledge and experience that decades in the workplace can bring. In turn, the complexity and change that these roles must manage will continue to provide challenges and growth for your most seasoned employees.

This is an excerpt from the Global Knowledge white paper Getting the Most out of Your Business Analysts and Business Architects.

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About the Author
Adam McClellan has over a decade of experience as a project professional, including multiple stints as a business architect as well as business analyst experience. As a Project Management Professional, Certified ScrumMaster, and Six Sigma Greenbelt, he brings a combined focus on high-quality solutions and timely delivery to his work and has experienced first-hand the valuable knowledge and enlightening conversations to be had at all levels of an organization.

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