5 Things You Must Know About A Senior Business Systems Analyst

Hello there! Are you interested in a business analyst career? Many of my friends who are in the IT industry or are just fresh out of school are usually curious about what a business analyst (BA) does.

I’ve discussed quite a bit about the roles of a BA here and also touched on their potential salary ranges here.

In this article, I want to expand on this and let you know 5 things you must know about a senior business systems analyst.

You may ask, why the focus on a senior business analyst?

Well, the truth is, a lot of people may understand what a BA does – but most are not familiar with a senior BA.

A senior BA track is in fact a very common career path both in banks, insurance companies and consulting firms. However, I don’t think this career path has been given enough focus, as compared to say, that of a project manager.

5 things you must know about a senior business systems analyst 1 The senior business analyst is a common career path in many companies

That’s why I think organizations like the Institute of Business Analysts and sites like The Requirements Networking Group are great – they promote the business analyst career as a very decent one - in a world where many professionals look only at project managers.

1. Overview

The first thing I want to do, before goin into details is to give you an overview of the senior business systems analyst role. In my eyes, there are five key things about a senior business systems analyst that should be understood:

  • Job Scope
  • Average Salary Range
  • Day-to-Day Work
  • Who Should Be A BA
  • Career Path

Let’s go through each of these in turn.

2. Job Scope

First, let’s discuss the job scope of a senior business system analyst. Now, in the context of systems implementation, a senior BA is first and foremost, a “requirements person”.

That means that he or she goes to business users, asks them what they want to see in an IT system, then documents those requirements very accurately and completely.

Sometimes, the BA may also do modeling, i.e. write up use case diagrams or entity-relationship diagrams to clarify system functions and data relationships.

The next role a senior BA plays is that of project manager. You’d be surprised - many senior BAs are actually playing project manager roles. And they don’t play junior PM roles - many of them behave and act just like senior PMs.

The reason is that they usually have intimate knowledge of the users’ requirements and hence have a lot of trust and credibility in front of business stakeholders. As a result, if they’re doing PM work as an extension to their BA role, it’s quite easy to get into.

There are other roles that a senior BA plays - such as a test manager and domain / solution expert which we won’t delve into.

Suffice to say that a BA’s job scope is usually even more diverse than other project team members (e.g. the PM, system architect or developer)

3. Salary Range

The second thing we should know about that a senior business systems analyst is his salary range.

I’ve discussed BA salary ranges here and you know that someone with more than 8 years’ experience in Singapore can expect to get an estimated $100,000 to $180,000 a year. That’s quite a lot of money!

And usually, if you’re a senior BA in the hot industries like banking or insurance, you get a premium in pay.

I’ve seen many applicants from Europe applying to come to places in Asia (e.g. Singapore and Hong Kong) because the roles are plum and the packages are good.

However, with the global financial crisis, etc. pay packages may not be as sky high as they used to be, and recruiters are also more selective.

4. Day-to-Day Work

The next thing to understand is a senior BA’s day-to-day work. What does a senior BA do everyday? Well, here’s a sample:

Day 1

  • Early morning - Meet up with business users and run workshop to gather requirements for equity trading system
  • Late morning - Discuss with business users from credit risk department on changes to their requirements
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon - Meet up with project manager to plan for next phase of project
  • Evening - interview a potential new team member who has expressed an interest in the project

Day 2

  • Early morning - Catch up with emails and complete review of requirements documentation and minutes of yesterday’s meeting
  • Late morning - Run another workshop on single customer view across the bank
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon - Attend weekly project status meeting
  • Evening - Complete presentation slides for workshop on fixed income trade processing the following day.

That’s just a sample of what a senior BA does. For a senior BA, most of the work will be reviewing and doing higher level slides, as opposed to junior BAs who do detailed data analysis and ground work.

5. Who Should Be A BA

That’s an interesting question and one I’d love to answer. Ideally, in my mind, a good BA is a person who is very analytical and loves to learn. He or she also loves to solve problems and is a great communicator.

If you’ve read my introductory article on project management, you’ll realize that a PM shares many of these characteristics too!

However, the difference between a BA and a PM is that the BA more of a business problem solver.

The PM solves problems for the ENTIRE project - including change management, technical and IT issues, etc.

6. Career Path

The final thing you need to know about a senior business systems analyst is his or her career path.

A senior BA’s career path can take many trajectories. I’ve seen BAs become project managers (a very natural choice), teachers, software business consultants, and even CIO or COOs.

It’s entirely possible because the skill set of a BA is simply so wide.

And there are so many transferable skills. So if you’re worried that becoming a BA will limit your career choices - fret not!

I’d say a BA has many career paths and choices, perhaps even more than that of a project manager (which I’ve discussed here).

Wrapping Up ...

I hope the above has explained to you 5 things you must know about a senior business systems analyst.

I note that I’ve not explained the term “systems” in “senior business systems analyst”. When you speak of a BA, usually it’s just “business analyst”.

Why do we use “business systems analyst” here?

Well, the reason is that we’re specifically talking about a BA who is involved in system implementation projects. We’re not talking so much about BAs in, say, strategic consulting houses like Bain and Company, where they usually do not touch system requirements at all.

Ok, that's all I have for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and until next time, have fun being a BA!

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