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I have years of experience in the IT (I started as an IT developer and made my path up to the Business Analysis).

Now, after 6 years of BA, I'd like to take my career to the next level. I was wondering if Project Management is the only option that I have or there is something else I could aim at (perhaps more suitable for a BA background).

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closed as off topic by CodeGnome, Mark C. Wallace, jmort253 Jan 20 '13 at 8:22

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Today I had exact questions (I searched Google) as you did my friend probly 2 years ago. Most of the comments people have made do make sense. Thanks again. Cheers Nish –  user5406 Jan 18 '13 at 4:52
    
This question is really about career growth as a business analyst, and not career growth within project management. Voting to close as off-topic, although the OP is welcome to have it re-opened if the question is eventually re-framed. –  CodeGnome Jan 18 '13 at 6:56
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3 Answers 3

It's hard to answer such question concretely without knowing your specific context. The first thing you should start with is asking yourself what you would like to do. I mean, if it happens that the next role on the ladder is something you're going to hate would you really pursue the promotion?

Think about your strengths, which you may exploit, and weaknesses, which would make the transition harder. Think about your potential to grow, which means you can become good in a new role.

As you've already worn different hats (you mention developer and BA) you know what kind of different roles you can think of - which of them suit you fine?

Then, there is also a context of your organization. However, in this case you shouldn't limit yourself to your organization only. Actually focusing on hierarchy of your organization only would be a mistake, as there are different companies pursuing different values out there.

Start with considering what kind of organization you'd like to be a part of. If you like your current employer, that's perfect. But be aware that different firms bring different cultures, different responsibilities and different roles. I personally know people who switched from senior management position to software engineering and their main driver was organizational culture.

Once you know what you would like to do and what kind of organization you'd like to work for you may try to think about specific roles. Unfortunately, at this point it is so heavily dependent on a specific context that it is hard to come up with details as they may differ vastly.

Remember though that the same role, say project management, in different companies can mean very different jobs.

Definitely on a list of roles you may want to consider, there are:

  • Project management. You mention this one. Actually I would say that this is one of pretty common paths in big, formalized organizations.
  • Product management/product ownership. Focus on product which, with your experience as a BA, you should have pretty good background for.
  • People management. Leading a software development team or one of teams supporting software development process might be another idea.
  • Sales. Actually best salespeople I know in software industry have roots in technical departments. Their biggest advantage: they know how things they're selling are built.

Remember that most of these roles look differently at vendor's side and at client's side and this is also an important variable in this equation.

And one more thing: sometimes an answer to a second question (where would you like to work at?) will make above definitions irrelevant. If you decide to run a startup you will be fulfilling a number of different roles simultaneously.

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A really good answer for not such a great question. –  Paul Wagland Dec 27 '11 at 21:45
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Look at your chain of command in your organization. What are those people of higher rank doing and how did they get there?

There are roles that a few folks obtain where they essentially act as deep subject matter experts, but most of the higher ranking roles, IMO, are in management, managing organizations and capability. It does not have to be a PM, but leading something is likely your next evolution.

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I would suggest that Project Management is not the only option open to you - and in some respects, it is arguably not the best option.

A business analyst / senior business analyst will have many attributes in common with a PM: organisational ability, influencing skills, some technical knowledge, and a really good understanding of how business works.

Certainly, in the banking sector in the UK, there are many roles for Change Managers (as well as PMs), and I wonder whether a business change role would be a more suitable career route? Although fundamentally very similar to a PM role, such a role is often located within the business or user community rather than in the technical community, and it could potentially lead to senior business-side positions to permit further career development.

Good luck!

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