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Nancy Feig
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The Rise of the Business Analyst and Other Emerging IT Roles

Emerging roles at FSIs put business and IT on the same page.

There is "help wanted" all across the financial services industry. A simple Google search for "business analyst" reveals that these professionals are in high demand. There are openings at global banks, investment banks, even community banks for business analysts, those who bridge the gap at banks between IT and the business. According to Monster.com, business analysts are the "ultimate facilitators" -- they are trained to understand how technology can serve business goals.

Along with project managers and other emerging IT roles, business analysts are shaping the future of IT. "People have really struggled with IT going in one direction and the business going in the other," relates Adam Honoré, senior analyst with Boston-based Aite Group, who notes that the business analyst fosters stronger IT-business alignment.

According to Kathleen Barret, president of Toronto-based International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and senior business consultant with Bank of Montreal Financial Group (Toronto; $298 billion in assets), business analysts (BAs) and project managers have evolved together as the need for more-streamlined processes has caught steam in financial services. In her role at BMO, Barret is responsible for training and coaching the business analysts. A typical project, she explains, is comprised of two components: "the actual piece of work -- the project itself; and then the content of that work -- the product. Project management is responsible for delivering the framework and the BA is responsible for ensuring the content of that piece of work."

A project manager typically handles administration and governance, time lines and budgets, while the business analyst is the translator who keeps IT and the business on the same page, Barret continues. Business analysts are not subject-matter experts in anything; rather, they are generalists, she explains, adding, "They need to understand the language in all areas."

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