was stopped in the hallway on the way back from a meeting and asked by a senior BA to apply for a position that would be opening soon.At the time it seemed like luck, after talking with other BAs I realized I had really been approaching my role as someone destined to become a business analyst.In my QA role, I had built a new process. coordinated a UAT process with subject matter experts and communicated the issues they found back to BA and developmentSat in on requirements review meetings.Developed deep expertise in how the system was built and worked. This was invaluable in the systems analyst part of my BA role.There is no one path. This is my story and it’s highly customized based on the career experience I had had coming into BA. Your story will be different because it will be based on your career background and your natural talents.Now we’ll hear from our panelists about their path.
These steps are designed to help you build your roadmap. Your career history and current knowledge will be the biggest factor in how you become a BA. When Kimberley Heath initially reviewed an outline of this presentation, she pointed out that I was missing the networking piece. After playing around with this as a 6th step, I realized that building your network is really an underlying aspect of each step of your professional development. So we’ll be touching on how to cultivate and leverage your network throughout each of the 5 steps.
You might be anywhere along this path.The first step is often the hardest. Once you start taking forward steps, they build on top of one other…And, this might sound mystical, but I’ve found every time I’ve taken steps in the direction of a goal, new opportunities turn up that I didn’t think were there.We’re going to take a few steps today, right here.And at the end of the workshop, I’m going to ask you to plan your next step and find some time on your calendar to take it this week.
Difference between business analysis and business analyst roles. You’ll be armed with the knowledge of how to discover your most relevant experiences.Don’t get stuck here…all too often professionals spend all their time and money here and never get out of step 1. I’ve worked with professionals who invested tens of thousands in MBA programs and then can’t find a BA job. Learning business analysis or getting a degree can be very valuable, but it’s only the first step to finding your first opportunity.
The BABOK is our guide to what business analysis is – it’s the set of activities and tasks that business analysts do. All about solving business problems – could be a new opportunity, could be an inefficiency in the business, could be to scale toward growth.I have a whole 20 minute lesson as part of the new course I am developing where I break this definition apart into pieces. We don’t have that much time today. I’m going to highlight 2 key parts.Liaison – bridging between business and IT or bridging between different stakeholders in the business.Not necessarily “in IT”
The BABOK is not a process. It’s a set of activities. Each activity falls into one of these knowledge areas.
A professional who performs business analysis activities.A generalist…use a variety of techniques in initiatives varying in scopeA specialist…limited set of techniques or single methodology.New breed of senior BAs doing enterprise analysis is a specialist.A hybrid…combine with BA and another professionProject manager with BA responsibilitiesPage 6 and 7 in BA Competency Model.Lists alternate titles for each of theseOn top of any of these roles, special qualifications may be required.New version of the competency model lists out specific job titles and role descriptions for many specialists.
Speak here to why experience is important from a manager’s perspective – they are looking at a host of well-qualified candidates and a BA gets “dropped into the fire” so to speak. Direct stakeholder contact – internal and external customers. Deal with ambiguity, reconcile that ambiguity, deal with the unexpected. Hiring managers are looking for candidates with the proven capacity to succeed in the work environments business analysts face.
Kernels of your experienceNavigating change is a big part of what BAs do – when have you helped create a change in a process or in an organization?Business analysts solve problems. How often have you been involved in solving problems? Provide an example of solving a problem.When have you created documentation – written specifications, meeting notes, etc.Informal experience can count. The question to ask is do they show a successful pattern of successful business analysis?Example:Created some written work flow documents for a new project. I wrote out the expected behavior. Common one for people I work with on their resumes.Learn a bit about use cases or process models. Realize that what they were doing intuitively, was very close to one of these models.Then go about practicing with a new model.Informal experience can count. The question to ask is do they show a successful pattern of successful business analysis?
Example:Created some written work flow documents for a new project. I wrote out the expected behavior. Common one for people I work with on their resumes.Learn a bit about use cases or process models. Realize that what they were doing intuitively, was very close to one of these models.Then go about practicing with a new model.
Most new BAs underestimate the value of their “soft skills”Strong communication skills are critical to successful business analysis. We are aligning stakeholders and creating a common understanding of the scope of the project. This is what it means to be a “liaison”. Problem solving and analytical skills show a natural aptitude to be a business analyst.Application expertise – this was my path. I had a lot of application expertise as a QA engineer. I knew the system inside and out.Organizational expertise – don’t underestimate the value of what you know about your own organization – stakeholders, business model, and operations. Industry domain expertise – relevant experience and knowledge of an industry can be a gateway to your first role.
Identify the breadth of activities you have knowledge of and experience in.You may be a BA or be a partial BA.Story: Aaron Whittenberger did this and discovered he was already a BA. He was about to go for his PMP and he learned about IIBA. He realized he had enough experience to qualify for the CBAP. He’s now in a leadership position in IIBA Cincinnati and helped craft the CCBA exam.Formal trainingStudy groups are another way to plug knowledge gaps and build your network with local BAs.Look for opportunities to conduct informational interviews with BAs in your organization (or BAs in your chapter). I lay this technique out in detail in the book you received. This can open up opportunities and help you better understand the knowledge that is most important within your organization.
Because of the relationship between business analysis and being a business analyst, you don’t necessarily have to be in a BA role to build experience.Use Rick’s experience – breweryFound a job at a small business.Saw a future pain point – if they continued to grow at the current rate their systems and processes would not scale. Helped envision some more streamlined processes and robust systems.Build an experience scoping a project.OpportunitiesPain points within your organization are opportunities to expand your role to fill in your experience gaps.Small independent projects can give you the flexibility to apply business analysis practices in your project approach.Volunteer work, for IIBA or for another organization, can provide opportunities to build skills.How to do it.You don’t have to do all of business analysis. You can pick just one activity from the BABOK and deliver it successfully.ASK! Or just do it. No one is going come and hand you the opportunity unless you show that you are ready for it.Deliver – make a positive impact. Show some results. Update your resume. Capture the experience Can be anywhere – at homeTell Catherine’s story about BRD for a basement remodel
Your BA background, your leverage points, the opportunities within your organization, and your employment status will help you find your clearest path.Often the clearest path to business analysis is within your own organization. You might have to help your organization create the role.This might mean that if your current organization does not have any semblance of a path, your best bet will be to find a role within an organization that does employ BAs and move your way up.Quick Job Search TipsFocus your searchHighlight most relevant experiences in your resume, use BA termsPractice, practice, practice talking like a BA.
Take a few minutes and write down some ideas.Now pick one task that you can accomplish this week.Share your commitment with your neighbor. (You might even exchange email addresses or phone numbers and follow-up with each other on your commitments. You are already building your professional network.)
Remember, it’s most important to take one step. And then another. Just keep moving.We should incorporate building our network into everything we do. So write this down, share with your neighbor.Share contact information with one another and follow-up later this week to see how everything is going.