Re: What is a Business Analyst?

Subject: Re: What is a Business Analyst?
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2012 13:59:12 -0700

On 11/2/2012 1:39 PM, Steve Janoff (non-Celgene) wrote:

Lauren and others,

Those of you who have had experience either doing business analysis as part of your work or under the formal title, "Business Analyst," how would you describe this work?

Analyze business.

Business analysis for me is a matter of getting facts about various aspects of business that companies and employees often take for granted or do not document. There are different types of analysis for processes, procedures, organization, business rules, compliance, interpersonal relations, business relations, technology, systems, and management of any of these things, along with many other types of business analysis. Business process re-engineering is a form of business analysis that is very important in a changing economy when a business must change how it handles itself or it must find ways to cut costs.

Reason I ask: a former tech pubs manager of mine took a Business Analyst job a few years ago and fell in love with it, swore he'd never come back to tech writing. A layoff forced him back, but he bounced back and got another Business Analyst job. Now he's going after a formal certificate in B.A. and swears he will never come back to tech writing. (He's passionate about it, what can I say.)

Business analysis is a logical progression from technical writing and technical writing is a necessary component of successful business analysis. Technical writers must do *some* business analysis as part of the job. Technical writing often requires documenting the work of others and it can get dull for thinky types, but very exciting for people who enjoy writing. Business analysis requires finding out what others are actually doing so it can be documented or at least communicated in some way. This type of work can be challenging for people who enjoy calm predictability but enjoyable for people who enjoy bringing calm to chaos.

It sounds like an interesting Plan B for our field and, based on the little we've talked about it (I'll hit him up for more but he's on deadline right now), sounds like it's deep in the IT trenches and may border on business intelligence but not necessarily.

This list has had a few discussions searchable in the archives about the career ladder for technical writers and many discussions about business analysis that may be helpful for learning more or for discussion points.

(Also sounds like you might have to take a salary hit at first to get a foot in the door but then it comes back up to better than tech pubs.

A "hit"? There is no accurate comparison. A very good technical writer can earn more than many professionals, while an entry level technical writer may barely break more than minimum wage for typical salaried employees in some markets.

And, there are more than twice as many of these jobs listed as tech writing jobs, certainly locally. A few different titles including also Business Systems Analyst and Data Analyst.)

I'm grasping at straws right now, don't know what I'm talking about, but I thought some of you guys might have some insight into this job function. I'll be researching it, but nothing like first-person experience to set your mind right about a field! (Currently looking for my next gig -- current contract ends at the end of this month and no sign of an extension in sight.)

You have done business analysis, Steve. Take a look at job descriptions and see how your past experience lines up. Understanding what companies are looking for can help you see those skills within yourself. While your job title may be Technical Writer, some of your job functions included various facets of problem solving, communication, learning as-is processes, presentations, deriving or at least documenting business requirements, and many aspects of communication with people in different parts of the business.


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References:
What is a Business Analyst?: From: Steve Janoff (non-Celgene)

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