How important is domain knowledge for a Business Analyst?
How important is domain knowledge for a business analyst? This is an often asked question so I decided to dedicate a full post to this topic. I am going to look at the domain knowledge from at least two perspectives:
- What is the extent of expertise needed? Do you need to be an expert or should have a broad level understanding?
- Is it a pre-requisite to start as a business analyst?
What is domain knowledge?
Domain refers to a business sector like Banking, Insurance, Manufacturing etc. Domain knowledge refers to the understanding of the processes, workings and key aspects of the business. For example, If you would like to be good at understanding retail banking, you need to understand the following:
- The transactions at the retail banking web application (e.g. funds transfer etc)
- The back end processes e.g. what happens when NEFT transfer happens involving messaging from front end to the back end or the external system
Some of the important sectors from a business analyst perspective are as follows:
- Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI)
- Internet Services (Online apps for travel, cab booking etc)
Why it’s important for Business Analysts?
Let’s consider the scenario of working in BFSI domain as a business analyst or for that matter Telecom or healthcare? As a BA, you need to interact with the customer to understand the business needs. If you understand the business processes, you will able to achieve good results, because:
- You will be able to understand the stated needs but also the unstated ones as you understand the workings
- You will be able to value add by suggesting improvements, thereby improving your credibility
Domain expertise for business analysts
As an entry level business analyst, you are not expected to possess domain knowledge. Understanding of requirements capturing techniques, UML modelling, requirements analysis and SRS/FS understanding are more important as an entry level business analyst.
So if you are new to business analysis, you should not worry too much about the domain knowledge. But you must focus on gaining domain knowledge as you start working as a business analyst.
However, as a practicing business analyst, domain knowledge becomes important. Domain knowledge is a measure of your experience and that is not replaceable. An entry level business analyst cannot replace you as domain expertise comes with experience.
It cannot be earned as a certification.
A pertinent point is to consider specialization Vs generalization. Do you need to be an expert in one domain or you should be a generalist having broad level understanding of multiple domains. Well Jury is out on this one and it will purely depend on the business scenario. Specialization is good if the growth opportunities in that domain is substantial. One such example is Risk Management.
However, generalization is like Jack of all trades and it’s pretty useful in downturns as it improves your chances of being relevant always.
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