A Step-by-Step Guide for a Tester to become a Business Analyst:
A testing professional is required to thoroughly test the software developed to ensure that the software meets the end requirements of the customer.
A Business Analyst is also responsible for verifying whether the software built and delivered meets the end customer requirements. This aspect of both roles makes it easier for a tester to switch to a business analyst role.
If BA and testers switch roles, then each of them can unleash their skill sets which can benefit the project itself. When it comes to testing the software system, both tester, and BA work as two sides of the same coin.
What You Will Learn:
Career Shift from Tester to Business Analyst
Why Business Analysis?
The testing professional has a thorough knowledge and understanding of software and its betterment along with the attention for minute details. This skill set opens the door for a tester into many roles in the IT industry today.
By having a good understanding of the development lifecycle and process, they can choose to become release manager, automation engineer, QA Strategist, solution architect, senior manager, and of course business analyst.
Having said that, a career switch in business analysis is a much more promising one in today’s scenario. Business Analysis is a much larger role when compared to testing or any other role mentioned above.
It’s a promising career avenue and a lucrative one too. A tester who loves to travel across the globe can really enjoy a challenging and satisfying BA role. A business analyst can further climb the ladder to become a Lead/Senior Business Analyst, Consultant, Product Owner or Product Manager which is quite glamorous.
I strongly recommend Business Analysis as a career switch option for testing professionals if they have excellent analytical, documentation, and communication skills, enjoy customer interaction, like a pinch of glamour in work profile, and of course, love being a globetrotter.
Recommended Read => Kick Start your Career as a Business Analyst
Chances of a Tester to become a Business Analyst
Why does a Tester have an extremely good chance to become a Business Analyst?
A testing professional has many reasons to think of a career switch that too into Business Analysis.
Here are a few:
- The tester gives attention to minute details and has an extremely deep understanding of how the software system is built.
- Tester strives for quality and excellence in the software and this becomes the USP.
- It’s natural for a great testing professional to keep the customer’s interests on topmost priority.
- A testing professional is required to read, analyze and review the required specification documents which gives them an added advantage further in pursuing the BA role.
- The analytical skills of a tester help the business analyst in pointing out the ambiguity in the requirement specifications if any.
- It’s natural for a tester to be a critic in testing the software vis-a-vis requirements. This tends to help the tester while collating the requirements from the customer. The tester is bound to visualize the working system during the required elicitation stage. Many undue and unreasonable requirements were ruled out during the initial phase itself.
- As testers always think critically, they are bound to think of a big holistic picture of the system. This is the biggest virtue that can help in business analysis, especially during the requirement elicitation.
- Testers are involved in projects and documenting defect reports. This helps the testers to enhance their documentation skills which are very much essential in the business analysis.
- If testers are working on an Agile Framework, then it is easier to switch to business analysis. This has been explained in detail in the next section.
Tester in an Agile Framework – Easier is the switch
(Note: Click on the image below for an enlarged view)
Agile falls in the ‘Iterative & Incremental’ category. The approach is different from that of Waterfall wherein the final product is released and is available for testing only at the end.
In Agile, the entire requirements are broken down into logical groups/chunks of requirements and instead of developing the entire system at one go, several chunks of requirements are developed, tested, and released to the customer one by one. The software released is potentially shippable to the customer.
The Agile Team is “Self-Organizing” with Product Owner (Business Analyst who defines and manages requirements), Master (Manages & controls the team) & Team Members (typically 5 to 9 cross-functional team members including developers and testers). Thus, it is all about team dynamics and extreme discipline.
Please refer to figure 1 shown above. Business analysts are involved at the beginning of the process right from maintaining the product backlog (requirements), sprint planning, assisting developers with requirements during software development, and also testing high-level requirements post-testing is complete.
Many a time business analysts only test the software built during the cycle.
Testers are also typically involved right from sprint planning, review meetings, closely interacting with developers, and thorough testing.
There is an overlapping of the responsibilities of the business analyst and testing professional here. When a tester becomes a business analyst i.e. a Tester BA, his involvement is in the whole process end to end and hence it becomes easy for a tester to switch to a BA profile in an Agile Framework.
From Testing to Business Analysis: A Step by Step Guide
If you are currently working as a testing or QA professional and planning for a switch into business analysis, then here is a perfect step-by-step guide for you.
It’s a positive move and the preparation must start while you are still a tester.
Observe and absorb a business analyst and his/her responsibilities like a sponge. This becomes easier when you are a part of the agile development process. If not agile, then make sincere extra efforts to work closely with the BA.
Share his/her workload and extend a helping hand. You can pick up small tasks while managing your own activities. Observe BA during offshore customer interactions or on client calls for the required elicitation process.
Read, analyze and review the required specification documents provided by the BA but with one more angle apart from the testing perspective. Read the requirements from the perspective of elicitation. Think of asking questions on the requirements as in “Why is it required?”.
Understand the business processes and think of their end to end. Try to map the process and requirements with the existing software, if any, for requirement gaps.
If it’s 100% customization, then think of a solution. The solution provided by you and the one provided by a business analyst is bound to differ. Your solution may be better.
If you are enjoying the above-mentioned activities then you may seriously think of moving on with concrete plans to become a business analyst.
The first and foremost area to work on is “Communication Skills”. If you think you are not good enough then quickly start working on the same. Excellent oral and written communication skills are a must. It is extremely important to have a good hold on English.
A business analyst is required to communicate with the customers and various stakeholders in the business for requirements elicitation. BA is also required to communicate the requirements to the development team.
BA needs to convert the requirements into specifications that can be easily understood by the developers. Poor communication skills can lead to errors in gathering and then transferring the requirements from a customer to the development team thereby resulting in an incorrect software system built.
Improvising English written and speaking skills is not rocket science at all. It can be achieved slowly and steadily by assisting a BA in written assignments and making sincere & continuous efforts to communicate in the English language with the team members. English speaking courses may help at times.
The best way is to communicate in English both in person as well as in a work environment with peers. Take feedback and corrections in the right spirit and keep improving steadily. It’s taxing for the brain and time-consuming too but it is absolutely possible.
The next step is to procure an MBA or an equivalent degree. Now that is COMPULSORY.
Success in a career as a business analyst with no management degree is incomplete. While there are BAs in a few industries with no management degree but no good and reputed IT organization always considers a BA with a management degree. This will keep acting as a hindrance to the career path, be it for growth or for a fat salary package.
And there is a reason for the same. The MBA makes a difference – 108%. MBA brings out the best in you. It helps to enhance your communication skills, problem-solving skills, personality development, leadership skills, decision-making skills, managerial skills, negotiation and persuasion skills, and last but not least it will help in procuring high salaries.
A tester can pursue a full-time MBA course which is more beneficial as the course design gets the best out of you.
However, one can also opt for a part-time MBA course. Be it a part-time or full-time one, it’s mandatory to get the degree from a good and reputed management institution. A degree without development in personality is less helpful in the long run.
For many top IT organizations, an MBA or equivalent degree is mandatory for the role of a Business Analyst. Salary brackets are also different for MBA and non-MBA candidates applying for the BA role. Thus, apart from personality development and enhancement of communication skills, MBA promises growth in terms of both compensation and grades.
To pursue a full-time MBA course, one will have to obviously leave his/her job. But it’s absolutely worth it. You will enjoy many more benefits while resuming work post completing the management course.
A tester may not have to resign if he decides to pursue a part-time MBA course. But many times it becomes taxing to study and work simultaneously. But again, the effort and pain taken is rewarding.
Complete your management course with sincerity and patience. The time period of most of the management courses is either one or two years.
The last step is the most crucial and challenging one, which is the switch to a business analyst profile. Post completing your management degree, one may try applying for a BA job role in the same organization. One can also try outside the organization.
But it is easier to switch to the same organization than outside. As management and your team members are aware of your skills and aspirations, you need not have to prove your mettle. Your involvement with BA and the related activities while being in the testing profile itself can prove to be very helpful to impress the hiring manager.
Working in the same organization and software will help you a lot as you are already aware of the business processes.
BAs should enhance their skills and hence try for industry-recognized certifications.
IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) offers prestigious CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) accreditation. Other certifications which can be considered are CABA – Certified Associate Business Analyst and CSBA – Certified Software Business Analyst.
These certifications are gaining importance globally as well.
There are several Business Analyst Training workshops and centers online as well as offline for enhancing BA skills. One may also consider certification in Agile Frameworks. Procuring certifications is always beneficial.
BAs are required to work heavily on documentation to create diagrams, flowcharts, and swim lane diagrams while eliciting requirements. One must consider learning tools like MS Visio, Pencil, Balsamiq to create wireframes, flowcharts, business process mapping documents, etc.
If you are thinking about switching from being a tester to a business analyst. Career growth is very fast for business analysts and they climb up the ladder of hierarchy more swiftly when compared with others.
A business analyst is a bridge or interface between the business and the development team. They are supposed to interact with various stakeholders as well.
Suggested reading =>> Business Analyst – Skills, Salary and more
Hence, it is crucial for them to think outside of the box. They have to work independently using their analytical and strategic skills, hence it is often said that a good tester has all the potential to become a successful business analyst.
Are you a business analyst who has come across all the above-mentioned steps? Please feel free to express your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.