Business Analyst’s Top Guide to Changing Domains

Who are business analysts?
Business analysts play one of the most important roles in an organization. A business analyst is like the intermediary between the project team and the stakeholder to ensure a fluid communication of the project plan and execution. A business analyst plays an important role in analysing and providing a solution to certain areas in a business’s development. Organizations and corporations often see business analysts as a valuable investment in a company by offering lucrative source of income (an annual payment amounting to $60,000 according to Glassdoor.com). However with that in mind, business analysts become increasingly valuable to an organization provided that they have expert domain knowledge.

What is meant by domain knowledge?
Domain refers to a particular area of expertise. However this definition depends on your profession. Should you ask business analyst about their domain, they will surely respond with examples such as finance, e-commerce, private banking and many more? In comparison to quality assurance analysts who will respond that their understanding of domain refers to php, Java and flash.
How can you get domain knowledge?
Truth be told not many colleges and learning institutions offer a crash course regarding domain understanding to the extent that even employers understand if a fresh graduate has no domain knowledge.
Domain knowledge at most times is a transferable skill which you could obtain from your past working or learning experiences. For working professionals with years of working experience in the private banking industry or the e-commerce industry would be equipped with domain knowledge in the private banking or e-commerce industry. This will serve as an advantage for them when they apply for roles as business analysts in these fields. Employers are constantly seeking out talented individuals who are not only equipped with both business analyst skills and software knowledge but also with domain knowledge.
Another way to obtain domain knowledge is by making searches on the internet regarding the topic. Search engines can show various answers and information to help assist you in understanding further about the domain.
Talk to the industry experts if you need further clarification. You do not necessarily need to enrol in a training course or get a certification. By simply catching up with a couple of friends and having a chat about the domains, you will help yourself increase and develop your knowledge of the subject matter.
However the next question might arise, what should you ask with regards to domain knowledge so as not to look silly at any time?
First and far most, cover the basics at the first instance such as the business’s objective. If you do not understand the business objective in line with the domain, it is difficult for you to deliver the client’s expectations.
Take a look at the business’ corporate page online and understand the mission and vision of the company as well as take the time to read up about the company itself such as history and major competitors which challenge the company’s business. Take a deeper understanding of the nature of the business and the steps in history which have benefited the company and what has not.
How do you collect domain knowledge?

There are several ways which you can apply to collect domain knowledge such as by conducting inventory and auditing site reviews, interviews with the users, conducting a background research, interviews with the stakeholders as well as reading more books and articles written by industry experts.
When you are researching articles by industry experts, always seek out industry association websites for higher quality content which provides free information. Unless you know for sure that you wish to specialise in a particular domain for long term, then it is perfectly fine for you to invest in paid websites.
Also take a look at business related media such as Wall Street Journal and Forbes for more industry related news. Even during job interviews, it cannot be less emphasised how important it is for candidates to read up on industry related news and stay current with the development of today’s market. Sources of information in the form of business related media share more of what is currently ongoing in the domain.
You can also observe the SEC filings of the organization which you are working on, particularly if such organization is publicly traded. From there on you will understand their financial strategy and position.
Of course the best way to collect domain knowledge and to understand domain knowledge is by asking loads of questions. However always consider and evaluate your questions beforehand. You do not want to end up asking the wrong questions.
You should not fear your stakeholder or client just because they are engaging your expertise. Instead make full use of your stakeholder and client in asking questions about the domain and industry to understand better and help you devise a better plan. Even stakeholders and clients are not ridiculous as they understand the fact if your knowledge in the domain is improved, this will garner better results and be a much cost effective project.
Should a business analyst be an expert in one domain or multiple domains?
For different projects will be handed by different clients and stakeholders with various domains. Hence the popular question which arises should business analysts be masters of multiple domains or stick to experts in one specific domain?

Truth be told this honestly depends on the scope of your responsibility. As a business analyst, look carefully at the scope of your job be it business strategy analysis, product management or business technology analysis.
As a business strategy analyst, you need to understand the domain from multiple perspectives and with an in depth study as compared to a product manager who does not required such crucial understanding of the domain. On the other hand, business technology analysis should have a moderate knowledge of the domain provided that your work closely with an information and technology team. However this can be supported with a strong business analysis knowledge and technology fundamentals.

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