Business Analysts. If You’re Not Learning, You Risk Being Replaced


The only thing that is constant, they say, is change. This is unlikely to surprise anyone reading this blog – after all, business analysts are typically ‘front-and-centre’ of projects and change initiatives.

BAs assess the business situation, form a holistic view then propose a future state. With so much change, organisations typically exist in a constant state of flux, with projects and change initiatives implemented regularly. If they do not adapt to stay competitive and meet the evolving needs of their customers, then they fall behind and, eventually, fade away.  The only way to survive is to adapt and change.

What is not recognised so often is that this applies equally to the practitioners working within those projects. As a business analysis practitioner, it’s important to continually learn and adapt, or there is a significant risk of falling behind. Fall too far behind and there is a risk of being marginalised, relegated to the most uninteresting projects, or even replaced.

Look Outwards: A Personal PESTLE

Given these risks, carrying out a PESTLE analysis for the BA role is beneficial to highlight a number of factors that need to be considered, including:

  • Virtual and Hybrid working: BAs are less constrained by physical location. This is an opportunity for growth and working on geographically dispersed projects. However, it also means that practitioners aren’t just competing with other BAs down the road… a BA could live and work further afield, perhaps only coming ‘on-site’ occasionally for key meetings and workshops.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Although AI is unlikely to remove or threaten the BA role entirely, it may automate some of the more mundane work. Taking the notes from meetings and formulating potential requirements or user stories could be a task that is accelerated with AI. Of course, the AI tool will not offer an answer that is complete or entirely accurate but it is likely to provide a helpful starting point. With some of the ‘administrative’ elements of the BA role removed, there’s the opportunity to focus on analytical and strategic thinking. And for those BAs that predominantly focus on the administrative and repetitive elements of the role? AI may be a direct threat…
  • Increasing Expectations: Sponsors rarely say “we are happy for you to deliver this more slowly”. There is an increasing need for speed, for things to be ‘good enough’ and for analysis and development to take place in a way that elicits early customer feedback. This is nothing new, but it is a trend that is unlikely to go away. There are plenty of tools in the BA toolkit that enable this way of working, and it’s likely that more will emerge.

These are just three examples, in a personal PESTLE you’ll probably come up with a different, longer set of relevant factors. A key point to note is that each of the factors listed above could be an opportunity or a threat, depending on the action that is taken. If no action is taken, then they will likely be threats and over time this inaction could lead to weaknesses developing. For example, a BA who makes no effort to learn and adapt to virtual and hybrid working will find it near to impossible to undertake their work in a distributed team. This will be a severely limiting factor for them.

Take the Opportunities: Lead by Learning

The flip side to this is that for practitioners who are prepared to invest in development, there are countless opportunities. By deliberately building learning into daily practice, it is possible to accelerate past those who have remained static. This doesn’t have to be a huge commitment: the fact that you are reading this blog shows that you are interested in your professional development! There are so many blogs, podcasts, courses, conferences and other resources out there to choose from. The key is to be consistent and consider learning regularly, rather than waiting for quarterly (or annual) development plans.

Two questions that might help are:

  • What can I learn this week, and how will I do so?
  • What have I learned this week?

The end-of-week reflection helps consolidate new knowledge too.

Happy learning!

For your own learning journey, be sure to check out the Assist KD Learning Zone as well as our wide choice of service design and business analysis courses.

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