This article is a controversial topic today on whether business analysts make good management consultants. It may be considered controversial because there does not exist a perfect answer to the question.
How do business analysts and management consultants differ?
While there is no perfect definition of a difference between the two roles, it is important for us to understand that roles and jobs don’t necessarily run by definitions. Both, business analysts and management consultants work towards solving a business problem for the client with a specific aim in mind.
Personally I don’t believe there is a clear distinction between the two roles. As a consultant I have in the past performed requirement planning, gathering and documentation (some of the core functions of business analysts) but have also worked on project management, change management, stake holder meetings beyond requirements gathering, building assets, performing GAP analysis etc. So in essence, I would be placed anywhere between a business analyst or a project manager icon
Do business analysts make good management consultants?
In the strict context of a role definition, a BA deals more often with IT in one way or the other. Consultants on the other hands, I feel could potentially be in a non IT related area of consulting too. This though disputable could potentially be considered as an area of difference between the two roles.
Again before we jump to fire the gun, I would like to note that this is not always the case. I know that my consulting experience involves solving client problems with the use of technology and IT. According to CBAP handbook, experience in the following areas would not be considered for CBAP experience criteria.
– Creating Project Plans and Identifying project risks, Weekly project status reporting, leading design workshops, creating project charter or system architecture, testing execution etc.
Personally, I think that sucks. I think learning beyond the role is an amazing tool for career success. But I guess CBAP excludes these work experience for a reason justified from their end. One major reason could be to differentiate the CBAP certification from PMP certification or any other certifications.
Fortunately, industry and firms are always on the look out for people who can extend beyond their role. We all know in life the roles of business analysts or consultants are never restrictive. At least I haven’t seen a firm that would say NO when a BA wishes to take up more project management responsibility
So do business analysts make good management consultants then?
I my opinion, BA’s make exceptional consultants. In certain areas, BA’s may need to extend beyond their role to support areas not covered under the scope of business analysts such as business processes or project management, change management etc. But I believe that is the trick for a great consultant. So if you seek to be an outstanding consultant, starting off as a BA could be your first step to success.
So while from a pure context perspective BA’s and Consultants may differ, I feel in reality we are the same in a lot of areas sharing our responsibilities. While management consultants could range from strategy, process, operations or other functional areas of consulting, business analysts may be restricting their area of ability if they wish to strictly proceed per the handbook guidelines.
Let us keep in mind – CMC or CBAP, certifications are only credentials that are enablers. The real world experience could be quite different. So keeping an open mind would certainly help.
CBAP® is a registered trademark owned by International Institute of Business Analysis
CMC® is a registered trademark owned by The International Council of Management Consulting Institutes
by Bharath Balakrishnan