Over 50% of Business Analysts can’t cut the mustard as a Process Analyst

Before I get flamed for this read on, this came from a statement out of the PegaWorld BPM event through surveys by Forrester Research. It seems that the main reasons company’s interviewed stated were that the Business Analysts;

    • had little to no technical background,


  • came from a business major in University with little technical interest,



  • couldn’t get their head around process thinking, and are seen as “wannabe” Process Analysts



When digging a little deeper I found something rather interesting. It seems the definition of Business Analyst varies as greatly as Process Analyst and BPM does across sectors and job titles. However if you do a search through the job boards you’ll find the definition of a BA is a generalist kind of person, criteria varies from requirements gathering and management, process mapping, UML, Use Case design, even data modelling. I’ve seen very few adverts that require very little technical knowledge, at some point you’re going to have to face-off to IT and understand what they’re twittering on about. There are two things which spring to mind about this:

    • there is a geographical divide in what a BA actually does across countries


  • the level of maturity of the organisations that were interviewed in the survey



And is this the fault of the BA ? – No. If an organisation doesn’t know how to apply it’s resources properly then you can’t blame the person in the role if they’re unaware of what their role really should entail. There’s enough information on the web about it, many associations like the IIBA willing to help. Ignorance is no excuse here.

Traditional BAs that I’ve met fulfil hybrid roles, someone who can sit comfortably between the business and IT ranks and translate both languages, which encompasses requirements gathering and process mapping…..

Hang on, did I say mapping ? Or Modelling ? Because it seems there’s a bit of confusion over these terms here too. A Process Analyst where I come from doesn’t necessary sit in a BA function and has no interest in requirements gathering, so is firmly a business related discipline. To my mind Six Sigmatites are not interested in setting up of the automation of processes with a BPMS and yet the definition of a Process Analyst according to the messages I heard coming from PegaWorld were exactly the opposite; that a Process Analyst should be someone capable of modelling and creating automated workflows with a BPM tool and have a technical background.

So, now we’re back to how role definitions segregate responsibilities and skills unnecessarily and that, in reality, definition seems to be an inherent problem no matter what market you’re in.

Plus the BPM sector is now hell bent on pushing the “Business Technologist” title into the mix and talk of “blended roles”…something which actually describes what a real BA would do….sit in the middle of both business and IT and walk the walk in both.


6 responses to “Over 50% of Business Analysts can’t cut the mustard as a Process Analyst

  1. Thiery,Another defintion of Business Analyst is someone who gathers, analyses and reports MIS. You are spot on.. Afterall whats in a name.. Its the responsibilities and activities that matter which define a role. Experience also shows that companies do not invest much in building capabilities around Business Analysis.. On the other hand every employee of the organisation atsome point or other wears a BA hat. For a Business Analyst required on a BPM project, expertise( not knowledge) in Business and Technology alike is absolutely essential.

  2. I’d say You have BAs who definite business level artefacts and stakeholder needs; System Analysts (SAs) can then translate those further; this role might be shared as a technical BA or a business-facing developer.The difference with a process analyst (PA?) I feel is that we are required to encompass the project in a greater way if going beyond just process workshops and modelling; this maybe because the BA didn’t understand process; or perhaps because we are lucky enough to have a process-geared brain. I’ve been involved in some very big projects with bright analysts and architects who expected me to just knock up a process – but on pushing them key elements were missing and they’d missed key stakeholder perspectives in their work. Maybe they just need to learn the right questions to ask however…

  3. I’ll respond to this in more detail when I have time, but I had to remark on this:A Process Analyst where I come from doesn’t necessary sit in a BA function and has no interest in requirements gathering…Seriously? How is it possible to do any kind of process analysis without gathering requirements? I can only assume here that you’re equating "requirements gathering" with software requirements, but that’s not what the word means. A process has requirements just as surely as a software application does.

    • I agree with Kevin..how can you be a process analyst without being interested in requirements? There must be a requirement lurking that is causing the BPM. I agree not all BAs have a lot of BPM experience, but it is a BA function.

  4. Theo – I totally agree with you. Funnily enough I wrote an article on this very topic a few months ago: http://www.theprocessninja.com/process/2009/06/building-sandcastles-why-the-world-needs-process-analysts-not-business-analysts.htmlKevin – I agree with Theo – if someone asks me to write business requirements I tell them to go and find themselves a BA. I don’t do business requirements – however the gap between as-is and to-be state is closed by a BA articulating business requirements (in one form or another).Cheers,TPN

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