How to Move from Developer to Business Analyst

Are you currently in a software developer or programmer role, and looking to become a business analyst? I’ve done this with my career, and have also seen others do it as well. I’ve listed out some tips in this article that should help.

1. Work On Your Communication Skills

The main skill that business analysts can benefit from is communication skills.

This includes listening to what other people have to say, explaining concepts and ideas, asking questions that you need to know the answers to, writing effective emails, and learning how to communicate better overall.

The hard part about improving your communication skills is learning how to communicate with non-technical people. You might be able to explain the advantages of object inheritance to other programmers, but if you need to explain that to a non-technical person, an entirely different approach is needed.

Learning how to explain technical terms to other people in the company is a useful still to have. I’ve worked with technical BAs before, and non-technical BAs, and the advantage of coming from a technical background is being able to understand and communicate technical areas with people.

2. Find Out More About The Company

Something that will help your move into a business analysis role is finding out more about the company. Working in IT as a developer, you may only be exposed to the IT systems and the technical requirements for the project. Getting a big picture view can help, and this is where learning about the company comes in.

If you learn more about the company that you’re working for, it can help you understand why certain things are done and what the projects are about. You can learn about:

  • Major problems facing the business
  • Trends in the industry
  • The direction the company is going
  • The kinds of projects they have done in the past

This kind of information can help you when speaking to other people and learning what you need to do for any future projects.

3. Improve Your Documentation Skills

Another important tasks for business analysts is documentation. Depending on the method the company uses to deliver projects, your documentation will be different. However, you’ll still need somewhere to write down what the project needs to accomplish and how it’s going to do it.

Documentation is important and the more you do it, the better you’ll get. I was pretty bad at it when I started my career, but I’ve noticed it’s something that has gotten better (and I still have plenty of room for improvement). Improving your documentation skills includes:

  • Learning the language and style that is used for documenting
  • Understanding the templates and formatting of the document
  • Learning all the tricks for your word processor program (such as Microsoft Word).

I’ll go into detail on each of these in a future post, but learning to improve your documentation is a good step in moving from a developer to business analyst.

4. Read Project Documents

Something that I’ve found useful in learning about the role of a BA is reading project documents. As the developer on the project, there will have been a lot of documentation created before the project gets to where it is.

Reading this can be helpful to learn about the purpose of the project, the language and style of the document, and what is included in the document.

Speak to your project manager or team leader to see if you can get access to the documents. If they ask, explain that you’d like to further your knowledge in the area. They should be happy with that – anything that improves your knowledge as a worker should be good for them too!

5. Speak to Other Business Analysts

Seek out other business analysts in your company, or that you know, that have come from a technical background. If they’ve worked as a developer before, then they know first hand what is needed to move into a business analyst role. I’ve shared some tips in this article based on my experience, but of course there will be others with more tips and better advice out there.

Your situation and experience may vary, so if you’re able to speak to someone who’s done it before, then it can benefit you and your move into this BA role.

6. Speak to Your Manager

A great way to move into a business analyst role from a developer role, and from any role really, is to speak to your manager or team leader. Let them know that you have an interest in moving into a BA role or getting more experience, and see what they say.

They should be able to help you out with information, or telling you who you can speak to (which may be other BAs). If they are concerned about your time or dedication to the role, you can work out some kind of plan with them, to make sure there is minimal impact on the team.

7. Start Doing Business Analyst Tasks

Getting some minor experience as a business analyst can help. If you’ve spoken to your manager, ask them if there are any business analyst tasks that you can assist with.

This might involve sitting with another business analyst in your team, or another team, and helping them. They might also give you some work to do, or documents to read. Any little bit helps – learning about what a BA does and getting some experience is the main thing here.

You can do these kinds of activities over time. Getting more and more BA work from other team members will improve your knowledge and give you the experience you might need to move from a developer role into a business analyst role.

Well, hopefully these tips have helped you if you’re considering moving from a programmer to a business analyst. If you have any questions, share them in the comments section below.

Career Action Tip

Choose one of these points and take the next step for it. For example, speak to your manager about what you can do, or find some project documents to improve your knowledge.