This article details on the role as an offshore business analyst and the changing role of offshore business analysts.
With the boom in outsourcing and the focus of firms shifting to add efficiency at lesser cost, more BA roles are being created offshore. Not to say that all jobs are being shipped offshore, but we definitely see firms being more receptive to not restricting a business analyst role being only a client facing role. The world of outsourcing has now evolved to the hybrid model (on site / offshore model of outsourcing and in some cases near shore for strategic reasons). In fact I know a lot of firms that have as a mandate for deals a 40:60 rule when it comes to projects. 40% on site and 60% offshore to better leverage the capabilities offshore and of course manage the project margins better. Organizations, project managers and leads often struggle to increase the offshore numbers and reduce the on site number (70:30) or so in the interest of margins.
Traditionally in the IT and the ITES sector, the offshore roles were restricted to development. The growth of Offshore Development Center's (ODC) in India in the software export zones are a testimony to this fact.
How does it impact you as a business analyst?
If you are a developer or a programmer, then this could be your golden opportunity to scale up to a BA role. Today there is a big gap between the demand for BA and the supply of quality BA candidates in market. While organizations are looking for quality resources that can scale up from being mere programmers and software developers or testers to take up the roles of solution designers and solution providers. While requirement gathering may be one part of your role, BA roles are expanding to include more responsibilities in the name of optimization.
If you are a programmer or a developer looking to scale up to the role of a BA, keep in mind, the task is not simple. I have in the past had emails from readers, who just send me their profile and ask me to do a magic to get them into a BA role. People always tend to take the easy way out. With a business analyst role, this is a "no-no."
If you wish to be a business analyst, you need to be willing to put in the efforts to scale up from your current role and expand your area of responsibilities with limited to no supervision. You will need to think out of the box (Think outside the bun as it says in Taco Bell ads) and look at adding value to the project and organization. These are sure shot ways to success. I would rather stick to these time-tested methods than trying my feet on short cuts.
What can you do to position yourself better as a business analyst?
Simple – Scale up. Take on more responsibilities in your offshore role. I know it is easier said that done. But that is your only solution to move up the chain to be a business analyst. Please also keep in mind that a business analyst role comes with its own challenges, responsibilities and of course rewards. If you are looking to be an offshore business analyst or are currently in an offshore business analyst role, then a few pointers below might help you.
- Communication Challenges – An offshore business analyst often gets struck in the web of communication. Being offshore is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is an advantage because you are more affordable translating to more options and opportunities. It is a dis-advantage because you never truly know what the client is thinking, how he / she is reacting to your comments and what is lost in translation and interpretation over the phone.
So you as an offshore business analyst will need to put in twice the amount of effort to manage client perception than an onshore business analyst. Make no mistake – Onsite business analyst roles are equally hard if not much harder at times. I could be a perfect example. As someone who has been the face of the project for the client, being chewed and crushed in managing perceptions yet swimming through to save face, I had the privilege of being an on site and an offshore business analyst / management consultant. Listening and communication is your core to be great at an offshore role. Work on it.
The effectiveness of the process is always in question depending on the complexity of the business requirement but with time and effort we could evolve to be better in the offshore business analyst role.
- Standardization of processes – Traditionally it is only the development and testing phase of the projects that were typically done offshore. But things are changing progressively. Now clients require that even the requirement gathering be done offshore through phone and other modes of virtual communication. Though a big challenge, it is well adapted by the industry.If you are an offshore business analyst, look at standardizing your requirement gathering process. Based on your industry and past project experience, come up with effective questionnaire's that could help the client answer as many questions as possible to provide clarity on scope and requirements. If you do not understand an answer, ensure you do what is needed to get clarity from the client on the question. Never assume an answer irrespective of how logical the answer might seem.
- If you wish to be truly pro-active, I would in fact, go one step ahead and start circulating questionnaires to industry leaders and to your past clients in your respective industry seeking their inputs on the current challenges in a specific area. This would turn out to be great inputs to help launch your product or service to the client. I'm also certain that the client appreciates the fact that you still think about them and their problems though you are not working on their project at the moment.
Organizations are now looking to bridge the demand / supply gap of business analyst by promoting senior programmers and solution designers to the take up business analyst responsibilities. Are you up for it?
Your resume, experience and expertise could make all the difference between you being a BA or remaining a programmer. Do visit the services page on our website – "The Smart Consultant" to understand what we could do to help you with your resume and transition to your dream business analyst role.
As always, I wish there was a perfect black book to help you. But there never is.
For those of us who believe a BA role is to necessarily only meet with clients and gathering requirements, I hope this article is a wake up call. Welcome to the changing world of business analyst.
For more information on business analyst certification, please refer to the IIBA website.
If you are an offshore developer or a BA or a BA working onsite then, please share your thoughts and experiences through the comments section of my blog.