The traditional role of a Business Analysts in product development typically comes with responsibilities of liaising and communicating with product teams, engineering teams, end users and business stakeholders. The business analysts have domain knowledge in their respective field (insurance, banking, retail, healthcare etc.) needed to translate the requirement of end users/business stakeholders to the engineering teams. The role of business analysts exists in cases where the client owns the product (or product owner is from client organization). In such cases, the business analysts play a role of proxy-product owner.
Let us see what gaps business analysts need to bridge to take on a role of a product manager.
Skills of Business Analysts
The business analysts play an important role in any project as he/she converts all discussions, workshops, brainstorming sessions from end users and business stakeholders to requirements for the engineering team. The business analysts also analyse the existing and new requirements for positive or negative impact to project schedule, timeline. A great business analyst has an extensive analytical skill to analyse the data, workflow, documentation from users and create outputs (requirement doc/user stories) for engineering teams to consume. The business analyst is also a great communicator who can help directing the team, solving problems and forecasting. The business analyst uses data modelling practices to analyse findings and make recommendations for strategic and operational improvements.
Business Analysts have expertise in creating use cases, functional specs, business process modelling, rules, requirements documentation, and end user training documentation. In today’s world where there are many starts ups then ever before and the roles of business analysts are non-existent almost. In such organizations, product managers create the vision and product strategy. There is also a confusion about distribution of roles and responsibilities between business analysts and product owner. There are some roles which business analyst can also play instead of a product manager like story boarding, backlog refinement, acceptance testing, story writing, cost benefit analyst and tactical focus. If you need to move from a business analyst to product manager role, then creating business strategy, competition analysis, market analysis, defining product/feature priorities, strong focus on customer is some of the key skills that you need to develop. Identifying and bridging the gaps (mostly skills) can help you take on the product manager career path.
Product manager is a custodian or CEO of product in an organization. He/she identifies the customer needs and defines the larger goals that the product will fulfil and effectively articulate how the product will fulfil the goals. Product managers manages the product across multiple disciples like user experience, engineering, and business. It is the responsibility of the product managers to manage or make trade-off between the three disciplines for creating a successful product. Product managers set goals, envision success and motivate the team by defining outcomes. In a smaller organization, product manager role would be hands on like defining vision, set objectives when compared to larger organization where the product manger work with team of specialists, research analysts, marketing analysts to help in charting goals and objectives.
Indeed.com lists 2200+ jobs as product managers across the world. If you are playing a role of business analysts, have solid understanding and representing user needs, develop competitive, market analysis, help in prioritize product features and capabilities, then it becomes easy for you to transition yourself to a product manager in any domain. Even if you are a business analyst, develop the skills of knowing the product landscape, prioritization techniques, influencing without authority, facilitation techniques. These skills will come a long way in propelling yourself to a product manager role in your current or future organization.