Are you a Business Analyst who wants to move into a Product role? Well, Product Management is a great career so it is definitely worthwhile. If so, here is what you need to know!
Business Analysis is a great grounding for Product Management
Business Analysts are trained and experienced in getting the information they need from the right people. This is a key skill for Product Managers. Product roles require you to know about a lot of areas that influence your product. That means you need to be able to go and get that information quickly, succinctly, and in enough depth.
As a Business Analyst this should be something that comes naturally!
Further, Business Analysts who have worked with products and product people are already aware of a lot of the requirements of the role, and how effective Product Managers operate. As a BA, you have most likely worked directly with a Product Owner or Manager, so you have a unique perspective and insight into the role. You should already understand the product lifecycle and you'll be fully capable of writing user stories, acceptance criteria, and working with engineers and other delivery team members.
So as a BA, if you are aiming to transition into Product, you are in a great starting place. However, there are key differences.
Product Management is broader than Business Analysis
As a Product Manager you have to deal with more areas than as a Business Analyst. These include:
- Customers: it's unusual for BAs to spend much time talking to customers or looking at user and customer research, however these are essential inputs for a Product Manager
- Commercial: BAs may have exposure to the commercial side of Product when gathering and analysing requirements, but many Product roles involve a degree of commercial decision-making and understanding that doesn't exist for BAs
- Marketing: Product Management is highly tied to Product Marketing, in fact some Product Managers fulfil Marketing as part of their role. Generally, this is a side of Product that BAs don't have much involvement with
Business Analysis is deeper than Product Management
As a BA, your job is to get into the detail. Whatever you work on, you are expected to understand it at a deep level, and to be able to translate business and technical requirements. In a Product role, while understanding and translating requirements are often still a part of the role, you simply don't have the time or capacity to get to the same level of detail.
This means that moving from Business Analysis to Product Management requires you to extract yourself from that detail and work at a higher level - you can (and should) rely on Business Analysts, engineers, and user researches/UX to get into the detail and pass on relevant information to allow you to make informed decisions.
This is probably one of the biggest challenges of moving from Business Analysis to Product Management, especially if you are someone who likes getting into details or struggles with not knowing them. As a Product Manager you have to be comfortable with not knowing everything in-depth. You can't be effective otherwise.
Product Management is proactive, while Business Analysis is reactive
This statement is a bit sweeping but the point I'm making is that, as a Product Manager, you are responsible for setting the strategy, roadmap, etc. and as such your role is looking ahead and making things happen. You are the person the delivery team look to for defining their work and setting goals. You are the person who sets goals, defines and evaluates product-market-fit, and measures success.
On the other hand, as a Business Analyst, your job is to delve into the detail based on the priorities and requirements already set. It is a very different skill and mindset to set the agenda and lead (and I would argue that Product Management is a leadership role even if you have no line management responsibilities), than it is to follow the agenda.
I am not for a second suggesting that there are no proactive Business Analysts! Simply that the requirements of the role are far more reactive in nature than Product Management.
Product Management involves knowing *and* deciding
Another of the big shifts in mindset if you are moving from Business Analyst to Product Manager comes in the form of not simply *knowing* enough and understanding the inputs, but also making decisions (both tactical and strategic) based on that knowledge. Most Business Analysts will gather requirements, information, and details, and then move to the next piece of analysis. But the Product Manager will use these to plan/re-plan and to make decisions on value and priority.
This is a big difference between these roles. Product Managers are responsible for the end product in a way that BAs are not. Gathering information is a very different skill to using it to inform your decisions.
For Business Analysts looking to become Product Managers, the greater responsibility is often one of the drivers behind the decision - as I noted in my blog post on 7 Reasons Why Product Management is a Great Career Product Management provides autonomy and responsibility. These are not completely lacking in Business Analysis, but they are definitely more evident in Product roles.
Product Management has specialisms that Business Analysis does not
Product Management and Business Analysis are both similar in that they have some generalist requirements, and some specialist requirements. Learning the specialisms of Product Management and putting them into practice is a great first step in transitioning from BA to Product Manager. Things like defining value, prioritising, and creating product visions and strategies are key skills that you will need to make that leap. We cover them all in the Product Management Course, as well as helping you to hone and tweak existing skills that are common between Business Analysis and Product Management.
So if you're ready to start, I'll see you there!