4 June 2008

Online Business Analyst Communities

Sixty five analysts completed the May 08 survey on this site about which online community sites are being used.

(Several respondents visit more than once site.)

Here are the results;

Modern Analyst 39 (60%)

BA Times 22 (33%)

MyCatalyze 15 (23%)

Requirements Networking Group 12 (18%)

Other 5 (7%)

None 2 (3%)

If you were one of the people who answered “Other” let me know in the comments which site you are visiting and I’ll take a look myself.

What are my thoughts on this?

Well, I have to say I have been pretty active at the MA forums for a while, but I stayed quiet there during May. I also went to all sites listed and peppered their forums with comments and questions so that there was a reasonable even spread during the survey period.

Overwhelmingly MA came out ahead.

It’s not surprising. When you have a look at the discussion forums you’ll see that there is an active community asking questions and sharing knowledge.

MyCatalyze and RQNG forums are sparse but live and BA Times was as quiet as a ghost town. RQNG and BATimes do have active discussions attached to their blogs and articles. My Catalyse also runs well attended webinars.

That’s not to say these other sites are not worth visiting.

For example RQNG has a very active series of discussions attached to their blogs, MyCatalyze runs a regular series of online events and BA times publishes regular articles. Each have their own style and strengths.

They also have their own niche in the BA community.

Modern Analyst has a wide range of participants, but is particular friendly for junior BAs seeking support and help in their roles. MA might also be seen as the more IT centric of these sites.

RQNG has serious discussions about what I would call advanced topics and is more targeted at the seasoned professional. RQNG is also biased towards agile style developments whereas the other sites are a bit more neutral, towards methodology.

MyCatalyze has a strong web and design element, as it also caters for usability professionals.

BA Times has some interesting stuff, but seems to suffer from a lack of focus on any particular niche.

All of these sites are built on off-the-shelf community platforms and include basic features like membership, newsletters, blogs for members, feature articles, libraries of many, many articles, and discussion forums. I personally gauge a site’s by the activity on the forums, and MA definitely beats out the others on this front. (I already said that, didn’t I?)

So, what to do? Don’t take my recommendation. Go look at them all. Subscribe to their RSS feeds for a while and see what comes through.

The one thing I think you should do is join at least one and “share, learn, network.” (Thanks for the tagline, Tom)

One last thing: Click on the picture for a larger version to read the sign.

Picture by Skip the Filler (CC) at Flickr


  1. RQNG appears to have an Agile bent, but that's because Scott Ambler visits regularly and he puts the agile view into most any discussion. Otherwise, I think you would find the membership as varied as any other site.

    Modern Analyst does have a lot of discussions, but you are right that it is mostly for more junior BAs. Thats good, but I would expect that more seasoned folks don't look at all the discussions until something of interest to them comes up.

    Both sites have good blog support, so I have one at both sites. The MA blog does have slightly friendlier editing and formatting functions for those of us still trying to avoid learning any HTML.

    One of the other sites, BATimes I think, is running articles by a guy who says the the BA and PM roles should be combined, with some expected comments resulting, check it out.

  2. Anonymous1:16 am

    ModernAnalyst.com has quickly become the premier on-line community for business analysts and related professionals: systems analysts, process analysts, etc.

    The community has a strong set of features such as:
    - Articles
    - Forums
    - Monthly eJournal
    - Career Resources
    - Interview Questions
    - Training Course Directory
    - Bookstore
    - Job Board
    - Directory of BA Sites
    - etc.

    For more information visit http://www.ModernAnalyst.com

  3. Anonymous4:43 am

    Of course I'll wade into this discussion.

    Here's why the Catalyze community is different (and better):

    Definition AND Design - we don't think you can separate the definition and design aspects of developing software or websites. For example, 45% of our members are business analysts and 27% are usability professionals with the rest scattered among product managers, project managers, software engineers and others. We believe that the interplay and different points of view are essential to developing a vibrant community to advance both the business analyst and usability professions.

    Community Openness - Catalyze also embraces more community openness than the other communities. For example, anyone can view content on Catalyze without registering or logging in. Registration or logging in is only required if you want to post to a discussion or blog, or upload content. Speaking of content, Catalyze is the only community that easily permits members to upload content. We are also very open on our statistics and share our growth numbers publicly on the site.

    Better content - We may be biased on this front, but we think we offer the best content of any business analyst site. We do host monthly webcasts that are well-attended, and we post recordings and slides back into the community to build the knowledgebase. And you can easily search for content via search terms or tags.

    Commercial free! - Finally, Catalyze is the only commercial-free business analyst community site. All of the other communities are pushing an agenda, whether it is conference participation, services, profit motive, etc.

    In any case, it's good to have competition because that pushes each community to do their best to deliver on their vision. And it's good to have different opinions, and I encourage people to check out each of the sites for themselves.

    BTW, the Catalyze Community is approaching our 1-year anniversary of going live and in that time we've grown from 100 members to nearly 3,800 members today.

    Tom Humbarger, Community Manager
    Catalyze Community

  4. Anonymous3:26 am

    Craig- I’d like to start off by saying thank you. I think your interest in reviewing the available BA community resources is commendable. As Tom from Catalyze pointed out- Competition is good, it only strengthens our products and community. However, I feel obligated to respond to a few of the BA Times points.

    BA Times’ Wide Industry Focus:
    BA Times actually focuses on the needs of the entire BA community. We do not limit access or perspective of those companies who sponsor ads or rely on specific methodologies. Our mission is to serve the needs of the global BA community. Our articles, forums, and discussion threads are developed based on subscriber requests and feedback. What you see as lacking focus is our attempt to support the needs of the greater community VS a narrow slice of that community.

    Non-Biased Community Support:
    Although we are owned by an event company, BA Times operates as its own entity and does not solely push our own events. Anyone has the opportunity and are encouraged to post events on our calendar.

    Discussion Forums:
    I think your use of “Ghost Town” is completely unacceptable. We continue to see an increase in forum discussions every month. Did you even notice the PM VS BA thread- this discussion has struck a serious nerve with the BA community and they have responded with a strong voice: http://www.batimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=211&Itemid=162
    Also, our commenting posts are very strong part of the community.

    Once again- I’d like to commend you on your effort to reflect the needs of the larger BA community. However, I find it interesting that you’ve got logos from all the BA portals, except BA Times. I’d be interested in knowing if those logos are a product of paid advertising? As your survey clearly shows, BA Times is ranked the second most utilized BA Portal. Why would we be ranked higher if our portal was in your words: “suffering from a lack of focus.” I think the community has spoken and will continue to reflect its passion and interest in BA Times.

    Best Regards!

  5. Adam

    Thanks for the comments.

    A couple of responses for you;

    1. No, there is no paid advertising/sponsorship on this site. I’d be happy to add a logo image and link for your site also. Send me the image and I’ll add it in the next few days.

    2. I do acknowledge that there is an active community at your site, but not so much in the forums. It is, as you say in the comments on the articles. I’ll note that in the body of my post to make it clearer.

    Congratulations to you all for providing valued services to the BA community.

    And as I said in the post, people should check them all out and decide on which ones they like and join in.

    There is no reason why you Analysts can only visit one site.

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