Ten steps to transition from tech writer to business analyst

Are you a tech writer? Do you want to move up in your career or earn at least $20K per year?

Results from the Salary.com survey reports that the average salary for Technical Writers in the United States is $57,173, while the global average salary for Business Analysts, according to the 2019 IIBA Salary Survey, is $78,424.

Image Courtesy IIBA

While already possessing many skills, the next best step for you as a Tech Writer would be to launch your career as a Business analyst

A Tech Writer with five years’ experience said – although her career has been remarkable, she felt burnt out and wanted to do more, something beyond her current role. She was looking for a job that would allow her to use her tech writing skills and knowledge to step up from her existing profile and attain a better package and benefits.

Another Tech Writer, with over ten years of experience, was seeking out more opportunities to further excel in his career. His career as a tech writer was at an end, and he was desperate to find growth and career advancement.

My advice to both of them was to consider changing from Technical writer to Business Analyst due to the variety of the BA role, job prospects associated with the position, and a higher salary.

Today, a significant number of companies are hiring BAs. According to industry reports, business analysis will be the fastest-growing IT profession and the most sought-after skill for tech workers, with an annual growth rate of 14% from 2014 to 2024.

LinkedIn recently released the report “The Skills Companies Most Need in 2020 – and How to Learn them”. The report indicated that the skill of Business Analysis had seen the most significant growth among all popular hard skills during 2020. According to the report, business analysis is a skill that every professional should possess because most jobs require some level of business analysis to make informed decisions.

While a business analyst analyses the organization’s functions and creates solutions to improve them, a technical writer (also known as a technical communicator) writes about the products and innovations in the company. They also create technical documentation and use their writing skills to simplify complex information.

Tech writers are skilled in writing and communication. Therefore, they can easily transition to BA roles provided they build on their experience and transferable skills, acquire new BA skills and undergo business analysis training.

Technical writers are often part of multiple project teams to manage the inflow of information. They can therefore understand and discuss complex information with people from diverse occupations. Furthermore, they have a transitional advantage because business analysis isn’t limited to one field. Technical writers are therefore able to transfer to this domain with ease. 

Business analysts are the link between technology architects and business stakeholders. Understanding the diversity of the audience helps the technical writer transition from one role to another.

Technical writers are also better equipped to understand technology, which is advantageous when becoming a BA.

This blog outlines ten essential steps to help tech writers transition to a BA role.

Listed below are skills that a tech writer already possesses. These are transferrable skills and need to be honed to become a successful BA.

  • Communication Skills

Business analysts spend a lot of time communicating with clients, managers, users, developers, and other co-workers. As a result, they are skilled at sharing ideas and have excellent communication skills.

Due to their job, tech writers often have excellent writing skills and a good understanding of certain aspects of business analysis, such as visual modeling and requirements documentation.

To be a successful BA, you must also have excellent verbal skills. It is important to remember that nothing is more important than clear communication. You need to be expressive, an effective listener and communicate clearly with your audience as you become a Business analyst.

  • Product Knowledge

Technical writing skills depend on the subject matter, product, or service requiring documentation. This helps tech writers grasp the necessary knowledge of the product.

A business analyst is required to have a good knowledge of products. As the name suggests, a business analyst analyses a business and recommends necessary changes to make the business profitable. Therefore, being well versed in product knowledge is essential.

  • Domain Knowledge

Domains are specific work areas such as insurance, banking, infrastructure, and healthcare. Therefore, every project belongs to a particular domain.

Technical writers must possess a solid understanding of the industry and relevant knowledge of the domains to write simple how-to guides and detailed manual documentation.

Domain Knowledge is one of many skills that matter to BAs and gives them an advantage. Business analysts use their domain knowledge to understand the business case and analyze the situation effectively, allowing them to understand better the project’s business case, its background, and how its purpose is to solve domain-specific problems. 

  • Technical Diagramming Skill

Tech writers use graphics, diagrams, and images to make technical documentation easier to grasp and readable. Therefore, they are familiar with the Technical diagramming tools.

Business analysts create use cases, user stories, Business Requirement Papers (BRD), class diagrams, Entity-Relationship diagrams (ER), and sequence diagrams to document business analysis requirements.

Hence, technical diagramming skills will make a Tech writer’s transition to a BA easier.

  • Documentation Skill

Writing and documenting skills are essential skills possessed by technical writers. They can communicate information clearly and concisely for various audiences through these skills.

These are key skills for business analysts too. Both roles require you to clearly and precisely document your thoughts. Indeed, a tech writer’s step-by-step help manual requires the same creativity as a BA’s use case diagram.

Even though Tech writers have the skills mentioned above that make their transition to a BA role easier, new skills need to be learnt to succeed as a business analyst.

Business Analysis follows a process, just like any other business role. The IIBA Business Analysis Core Standard is the best and most cost-free resource available. It is a 50-page document that is highly informative and will give you an idea of performing business analysis. 

  • Elicitation Skills

Elicitation is the act of ‘drawing out information. Therefore, BAs must collect, distill, or extract information from stakeholders. These requirements form the foundation of any project, and therefore, BAs should be able to facilitate a discussion.

BA can use a variety of effective methods to obtain requirements. The BABoK lists nine techniques- Document Analysis, Brainstorming, Interviews, Focus Groups, Prototyping, Interface Analysis, Observation, Requirements Workshops, and surveys/Questionnaire.

These techniques can identify functional, technical, or non-functional requirements and ask the right questions to ensure accurate information. BA must be able to recognize when and how to use each technique.

  • Learn the Requirements Analysis Skill

Requirements analysis is the process of identifying, analyzing, defining, and documenting requirements. This is how you define the scope of your project to determine the resources and time required to complete it.

This 5-step guide will help you to conduct a business requirement analysis. 

  1. Identify key stakeholders
  2. Capture stakeholder requirements
  3. Categorize stakeholder requirements
  4. Interpret and record requirements
  5. Sign off

There are multiple ways to gather and analyze requirements clearly and concisely. Understanding the requirements gathering process is key to resolving conflicting requirements early. 

  • Use to learn about requirements modeling tools and management techniques.

Business analysts need to be tech-savvy. However, like most professionals, business analysts also use various tools. Hence, it is essential to be familiar with tools for state modeling, business process modeling, and use case modeling. For example, Microsoft Visio is a top-rated tool with a downloadable free trial. In addition, there are many free tools, such as BizAgi Business modeler and Lucid chart, etc.

  • Get trained and certified 

Earning a business analysis certification will help you be a top-rated BA and increase your chances of success. Certification can improve your overall performance, eliminate uncertainty, and open up new market opportunities. Organizations recognize candidates for their hard work and dedication in studying and passing the certification exam.

ECBA certification from IIBA is an excellent choice for those looking to get into business analysis. ECBA provides a solid foundation for entry into the BA profession and provides global certification. In addition, the ECBA certification doesn’t require any education requirements and covers all aspects of requirements elicitation and analysis, management, stakeholder management, and techniques used by BAs.

It is recommended to undergo proper training from a qualified BA coach to boost your chances of clearing the exam on the first attempt. This would show potential employers that you are serious about the BA profession and have demonstrated your dedication to acquiring BA skills.

  • Get started within your company.

After completing the training and obtaining certification, you can use your newly acquired knowledge and begin looking for new opportunities within your organization.

To gain experience, the first thing you should do is search for opportunities for smaller internal analyst projects within your company. Next, speak to your manager about your career goals and look for opportunities to learn BA skills.

It is essential to have industry knowledge when applying for any job. This is especially true in business analysis, where details are the key. You’ll be able to move into an analyst position in an industry that you are already familiar with, and you will be ahead of the curve.

Be interested, learn, and be active in documenting and gathering requirements. You can practice what you’ve learned by shadowing the business analyst on a specific project within your company.

You can update your resume to highlight the skills you have that will help you get a job as an analyst when the opportunity is available. For example, highlight your previous experience as a tech-writer and your qualifications for business analysis positions and enhance your profile by filling in your ECBA training details.

These skills are essential for any professional interested in business analysis as a career. Soft skills are incredibly crucial. Business analysis is an ever-changing role and requires professionals to stay updated with all developments in the field.

To prepare for the future, you should seize every opportunity to advance in your current job if you decide that a business analyst is what you want. You’ll find that the transition from tech writer to business analyst is easy for you.