Do Business Analysts need a technical background?
People constantly arguing, is technical knowledge necessary for BAs? Do BAs need to know technical knowledge?
These questions are similar to those related to the Chef. Are ingredients necessary for Chefs? Do Chefs need to know all kinds of ingredients? I think the answer to those two questions is obvious. The role of the Chef is to bring out the best in the ingredients. Likewise, the ingredient itself also helps to bring out the best of the dishes.
For the BA role, the fundamental is the same. Before we dive deep into the answer, let’s first think about the value a BA adds to a team.
As I always hear people saying, BAs’ job is communication, they are like bridges, and they pass requirements from the Business to the Engineer. If this is the BA’s responsibility, I would say the BA role is a waste. The business people should talk to the Engineer directly, as passing message always involves more misunderstanding. That is to say that the BA role provides no value at all to the team.
What is the value that the BA role brings in a team?
There are gaps between a business idea and working software. And if the BAs can fill in these gaps, then the BAs are highly needed in the market. For example, in the understanding phase, drive the workshops to understand, gather and elicit business requirements. In the designing step, draw the business process, design the wireframes, design flow charts and UML diagrams. In the planning phase, work with the Product Manager and Engineer lead on the priorities and planning. In the implementing stage, work with the team to break down requirements into user stories and create acceptance criteria. Daily, work closely with the Engineer, QA and UX designers on the details about the design, user interaction, tech discussion and even testing.
From these values listed above, think about if you don’t know the basic technical knowledge of software, how can you analyze and design the software well? And how can you communicate to your Engineer team well?
It is also similar in the construction world. As an Architect designer, if you don’t know technical knowledge about how a building is built block by block and step by step, how can you design a stable and functional house?
In general, you may not need a technical background to be a Business Analyst. However, if you want to dive deep into this role and develop your career based on the BA role, technical knowledge is highly recommended.