I have always been asked why I wanted to be a Business Analyst (and not a Project Manager, a developer or…say, a worm-picker). While the answer to that is fairly straightforward, not many people would subscribe to the rationale. There are only certain professions in this world that are worth pursuing and only one from the list above belongs to that category. And it’s not the worm-picker.
History suggests that in order to civilize, Man wanted the thinkers, the planners, the builders, and the rich to further the cause of evolution. And then He invented the Business Analyst – to ensure that the plans based themselves on the best of the thoughts, to ensure what was built was indeed what was planned and finally, to ensure the rich got back every penny spent and much more. Perhaps the BA was not called that then, but nevertheless the footprints he left behind in the sands of time are fairly evident. Take for instance the everlasting pyramids, the commercial viability of science, the venture to Moon, Mars and beyond, and…ok, you get the point. Oh, the leaning tower of Pisa? That’s when man hired a PM.
Just when evolution could have been a peaceful and completely meaningful process, Man bites the forbidden fruit. And with that is paradise lost. He invented the PMs, to manage the BAs. Anything overwhelming and overpowering ought to be managed. Or so He thought. The invention proved counter-productive and Mankind has been left licking the wounds ever since. The real trouble was not just the PMs. With the PMs came a whole lot of unwarranted slack. Methodologies, bodies on knowledge, self-proclaimed certifying authorities – you name it. Whilst the BAs only needed outcomes to justify their existence, the PMs needed all the slack they could get. Despite these, their relevance is widely debated. Well, at least within BA circles. The fact that a BA could double up as a PM and never vice-versa, tells one the story.
Ever since the advent of the unsolicited PM, the quintessential BA had to ensure that the trust placed on him was well served. Just so his tower leans not. He had to think, devise, do and get things done – a unique mix of responsibilities not known to other professions. At times, the BA even had to apologize; for mistakes committed by the lesser mortals. History, again, is resplendent with such examples. But this time, ask a BA you know of. Any half-cooked BA (still far worthier than a seasoned PM) would tell you they have said this in their careers more than just once – ‘I am sorry (you are stupid)’. The inability of the PM to own up their mistakes and the impending need to diffuse an awkward situation often results in the BA stepping up and uttering these words. While apologizing for a mistake is not such a bad thing, apologizing for other’s mistakes is certainly a virtue. As Dr Sheldon Cooper would say, “Being stupid is no reason to cry. One cries because one is sad. For example, I cry because others are stupid, and that makes me sad”. Yes, you inferred right. The PMs have no reason to cry, and the BAs are sad because of that. But yet, the BAs and the PMs subsist.
As evolution trudges on, taking important notes along the way, there will be a time when Man wakes up to reality. There will be a time when PMs are valued for what they are. There will be a time when common sense gets its comeuppance. Is analysis everyone’s cup of tea? Isn’t management mere common sense?
With all this in my mind (and much more), tell me how could I be anything but a BA?
[P.S: While I have taken care to remove any content that could potentially hurt the sentiments of the temperamental PMs and other lesser professionals, any vestigial pun is sincerely intended]