Moving from a Business Analyst to a Product Manager role

Business analysts often look for the logical career paths for their role. A lot of Product Managers come from the BA ranks. The biggest things aspiring PMs need to learn are becoming more strategic in their thinking and behaviour. They tend to think more in terms of product features, the technology and execution - project milestones and release dates. While these are always very important, the shift has to be in terms of thinking in terms of the business model and value, zealous focus on the customer - their needs, how to solve, the end-user experience - being more strategic in their approach, and how they manage their own priorities and time, and learning how to effectively sell their ideas (IOW, communication skills). Needless to say that “Behind every great product manager is a great business analyst” Whether they carry the title or not, (Product owner, technical product manager and subject matter expert/SME are synonymous with business analyst.). If we look at the JD for Product Managers, one can understand that product managers focus on the “what & why” elements of defining solutions. If we look at the JD for Business Analysts, it's inferred that they do the heavy lifting to figure out “how” the solutions work from a functional user perspective.

The similarities: Business Analyst & Product Manager

The major similarity between these two roles is the focus on requirements. • Product Managers and Business Analysts need to develop a deep understanding of a market, users, and/or a business problem/opportunity. • Both are responsible for communicating their understanding of the requirements to their teams.

The Differences: Business Analyst VS Product Manager

Below are two main differences between Product Management and Business Analysis. Product Managers are focused on developing Products; Business Analysts are focused on developing Capabilities. For Product Managers, the ultimate goal is the Product. While it’s critical for the Product Manager to understand why and how people use the product, the Product Manager generally does not define how people use it, while Business Analysts are responsible for defining the requirements for a business capability.

Product Managers are responsible for the Product Roadmap, Business Analysts are not. The Product Roadmap is one of the core responsibilities of the Product Manager. This means the Product Manager is answering the question: what’s next? What’s on the horizon? What direction are we taking this product? The Business Analyst is working within a project, and taking the direction and scope as a given (or possibly making scope recommendations). There’s more in common between Product Managers and BAs than there are differences and the transformation from a Business Analyst to a Product Manager is quite easy and smooth so if you are thinking of taking a plunge into product management role, look no further, dive in and enjoy the transition.

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