What Does It Take To Learn Business Analysis?

Part 18 of 22 in the Series: The Business Analyst Job Description

Highly Paid Business Analyst

Highly Paid Business Analyst

You are reading this post because you are interested in learning or mastering business analysis for a number of reasons like

  • You may have read the US Bureau of Statistics report which predicts that the business analyst role will be one of the fastest growing occupations through 2012

  • You are a computer programmer or software tester who is getting burned out on the monotony of coding or testing

  • You may be interested in learning business analyst because you will gain more visibility by interacting with users and managers

  • You feel that gathering requirements for software projects would be a better fit for you than your current IT position

What Does It Take To Become A Successful Business Analyst?

You may also have read a few business analyst job descriptions or observed successful business analysts at work and because of that, you feel that you can easily succeed at business analysis.

What do you assume that business analysts do or what do you think that it takes to become a business analyst?

Do you assume that business analysts just gather requirements, or that business analysts are essentially MBA graduates or that knowledge of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) or even Quality Assurance makes you a business analyst?

There is more to business analysis than having a knowledge of the software development lifecyle (SDLC) or a college degree like an MBA, or even learning how to gather software requirements.

Business Analysis is really not like computer programming and it is not equivalent to project management or having an MBA.

Business Analysis is a specialized profession just like Law, Medicine or Engineering.

Here is more information on what it takes to become a successful business analyst:

So, What Does A Business Analyst Do?

Computer programming and business analysis while being related, are still worlds apart.

Programming is a wholly technical discipline while business analysis focuses on the business side of managing software or project requirements.

A business analyst does more than just ask users what they want from a software system, type up the requirements in a pretty document and hand it off to the developers.

Business analysts liaise between stakeholders to understand business problems and the requirements for a successful solution using strategic thinking and excellent communication skills.

The business analyst also has to follow best practices for planning, gathering/eliciting, managing, modeling and validating user requirements.

So, you need to thoroughly understand the business analysis profession if you want to make the leap from programming (or any other career) to business analysis.

Business Analysts Don’t Just Gather Requirements!

You do not need an MBA to become a business analyst and getting an MBA is not the same thing as learning business analysts … the two disciplines are separate!

To start learning business analysis, you will need technical skills, business skills, industry knowledge / domain skills and analysis skills.

In addition to the following: Requirements Elicitation, UML, Use Cases, Requirements Modeling and Facilitation skills.

How Do You Demonstrate Business Analysis Skills?

There is no such thing as a new IT career without new IT skills. In the same way, you can’t become a successful business analyst without learning business analysis skills through training and hands-on experience.

If you have been applying to business analyst jobs without any response from potential employers, here is the reason: Your resume does not show that you have real-world business analysis skills.

Many project managers or business managers have been in the situations where they hired persuasive candidates only to regret the lack of understanding of the business analysis role or the lack of BA skills needed to get the job done.

  • The bad news is that too many managers have been burned, so the chances of getting hired without real business analysis skills are not as high as one may assume.

  • The good news is that as we head out of the recession, there is a demand for professionals who have the business analysis skills required to successfully take an IT project to completion.

So, the first and most important step towards a successful business analyst career, is making sure that you have the required business analysis skills.

Yes, there is a real shortage of good business analysts. If you will simply take the time to get trained and get hands-on experience, you can go places in your career!

How Do You Gain Business Analysis Skills?

The traditional way to gain skills in other careers is to get a college degree. But does having a business degree qualify you for a business analyst career?

What if you have a family and can’t take the time off work to go through another two to four years of college?

The problem with traditional college degrees is that they keep you on the theoretical path of learning, where you may spend two to four years in college and still lack the skills, experience or insight needed for a successful business analyst career.

In addition, traditional college degrees are extremely costly. If you’ve worked in the IT industry for any length of time, you would have met successful business analysts or computer programmers who couldn’t afford to go to college and yet succeeded at each of their professional careers.

What Are Your Options For Learning Business Analysis?

There are several alternatives to traditional business colleges. For example, many training companies squeeze the business analyst training program into a few (three to five) days.

You fly or drive in to the location, sit for a few days and then get back to work the next day!

The problem with these three to five day training programs is that you simply will not retain or understand new technical information that is crammed in a short period because real life professional skills are not learned in a hurry!

If you’ve ever crammed for an examination, you know that once the exam is over, most of the information is gone from you because you only studied to pass the examination!

The challenge with short term business analyst training is that you will not retain, understand or apply the information effectively on your job.

You need to learn business analysis concepts in a way that helps you retain it or use it to advance your career.

Learn Business Analysis – The Effective Way

This is how you learn business analysis at the Business Analyst Boot Camp

  1. Mentoring / Coaching: The Business Analyst Boot Camp is designed more like a mentoring / coaching program.

    You get case studies that allow you to practice the real-world business analysis skills before using them on the job.

  2. Skill Building / Career Focused: The Business Analyst Boot Camp is designed like a series of examinations.

    You are quizzed or examined on concepts, skills or ideas so that you are able to think creatively / of the box.

  3. Natural Learning Pace: The Business Analyst Boot Camp is designed to walk you through beginner to advanced business analysis topics in a series of steps.

    You are not expected to learn or master business analysis in three days but over weeks, so that you have time to internalize, understand, appreciate or learn business analysis material in a paced, natural or productive way

The Business Analyst Boot Camp is designed to provide practical training or real-world skills for the IT Business Analyst role and it can be accessed through our online Learning Management System (LMS) from any location and at any time by registered business analysts!




30 Discussions for “What Does It Take To Learn Business Analysis?”

  1. swapnil

    I would like to know the program objective (BA) & benefits by doing the certification.

  2. Rama Devi

    Hi

    I would like to get few clarifications on your BA training and qualifications.

    From the training subject heads I got a feeling that it is meant for computer software people.

    Where as internet search and company websites like MuSigma (bangalore) show it more as statistics and preliminary programming using VB macros and excel.

    Could you please clarify on this?

    Ms.Ramadevi

  3. Chithra

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am an MBA graduate and I have worked as application support applying SQL. I learnt SQL during Company training. Now I want to be Business Analyst as it is involved with more of coordination with different teams and managers and preparing reports which is my job interest.

    Please guide me for my Currier shift and growth.

    Thanks

    • If you want to become a business analyst, you will first need a study plan and then you will need to follow through by studying the different concepts, lessons and skills needed for business analysts.

      So, the questions are:

      Do you have a study plan that you can follow to become a business analyst?
      Are you learning the different skills and concepts you need to become a business analyst

  4. Rami

    Since the first day of college I wanted to be a BA, but unfortunately a lot of experience is demanded for such a position.

    I graduated a year ago with a Management Information Systems degree, then worked for 1 year as a Sales Account Executive for a company that provides IT Infrastructure Solutions, and then went to another company and started as a Programmer Analyst.

    Although I went through business/management courses during college, but I’m planning to get my MBA if possible to strengthen my business/management knowledge next to gaining as much experience as I can in business and IT from my current work so that I can be eligible for a BA position in the near future.

    Is it a good plan? Or should I change things like not taking my MBA for example? As it would need time and money. Please advice.

    • Heather

      Have you thought of a CBAP or other BA certification from IIBA instead of a formal degree? Less expensive and easier turn around.

  5. Chirag

    I did my B.Tech. in marine engineering.

    I have sailing experience of almost 24 months.

    I am interested in beginning a career in Business Analysis, but i don’t want to do MBA.

    Can you to guide me on how I can get a BA post, what i have to do and all?

    • You don’t need an MBA to become a business analyst.

      As a matter of fact, having an MBA has nothing to do with becoming a business analyst, though an MBA is a really good educational qualification.

      Becoming a Business Analyst starts with a RoadMap, Curriculum or a Study Plan that shows you the topics, concepts, skills or knowledge you must learn or master.

      Learn more about the RoadMap or Curriculum for becoming a business analyst here …

      Next, study the topics, concepts or information required to be a business analyst.

      Just keep in mind that studying to become a business analyst has nothing to do with studying for an MBA

      Finally, gets lots of hands-on business analysis experience because employers prize hands-on knowledge more than any other type of information.

      In the Information Technology (IT) Industry, your hands-on experience and knowledge is much more important than your educational qualifications

      Business Analysis, just like other information technology careers is not an academic, theoretical discipline. It is a practical, functional; real-world discipline backed by best practices.

      For example, Use Cases is one of several modeling and analysis skills that business analysts are expected to have.

      But it is pretty much a useless proposition to spend 2+ years plus 60K+ to 100K+ of debt in an MBA program expecting to learn Use Cases and other business analysis topics when you can learn Use Cases from a textbook or from a coaching / training program for a fraction of that cost.

      And then even when you learn Use Cases, employers don’t care about how you learned Use Cases or that you learned it from an MBA program or a certification program or a coaching / training program …

      What they really care about is whether you have Use Case skills in a practical sense.

      Please read this post, “Is An MBA Required For Business Analyst Jobs?”:
      http://www.it-career-coach.net/2010/12/10/is-an-mba-required-for-business-analyst-jobs/

  6. FHLTr

    I am interested in beginning a career in Business Analysis.

    I have my B.S. in Management (8 years experience in management positions)and I am currently working toward my M.S. in Training and Performance Improvement.

    I have been looking into BA postions, however, most require years of experience in a BA position.

    What would be good entry level positions to look for so I can begin to gain the necessary xperience?

  7. saurabh

    Recently i have done my master’s in computer science and currently working as a developer.

    I don’t have much interest in coding i am looking for work as BA as i found it is more helpful for me as a career.

    Can you to guide me on how I can get a BA post, what i have to do and all.

  8. Pranow

    Presently I am working with Life Insurance Industry since last 6.5yrs and prior to that I was with sales in Resort Membership card for 5yrs.

    I have done M.T.A.(Master of Tourism Administration).

    I mate one Business Analyst and he has suggested me to be in this (business Analyst) caeer.

    Since then I am looking forward for right advice and informations.

    I am 40yrs old and with 11yrs experience.

    Will it be possible for me to get into this career? Pls suggest.

    Rgds,

    • I generally don’t like hearing that a friend recommended a career unless it is based on sound analysis.

      My suggestion is this, take the time to figure out your personality (hobbies, interests, educational abilities, strengths, weaknesses) on one hand, the requirements for your career options (business analysis, management, sales, etc) and what you want at this time of your life (career stability, money, prestige, job satisfaction).

      Look at all this data and then make an informed decision as to which career is best for you :-)

  9. B.E. Kennedy

    I am a Lead Business Analyst with more than five years of actual BA experience. I also have ‘real world’ QT/QA experience. I have done Software development for the insurnace and financial services industry for the last 15 years.

    I am looking to update my BA skills to include Data Analysis skills as I find increasing demands for said skills from employers and from my / our customers.
    I find that more and more often the clients need serious data analysis, statistical analysis and data mining.

    I am also wondering if I need to add to my skill set in other areas. I have been trained as a Project Manager (PMI / CPMP) and as a IIBA (CCBA). I am sitting for both professional certification courses this year.

    Should I get a Six Sigma Black Belt as well?

    Any input that you can give me regarding sharpening my BA skills sets. I want to stay current and on the cutting edge.

    • Should business analysts become Six Sigma Black Belt certified? It depends on the kind of organization that you want to work in.

      Having a Six Sigma Black Belt certification does not automatically quality you for a Data Analyst job. It depends on how the organization you are targeting defines the Data Analyst career path.

      If Six Sigma is part of this defintion, then it will serve you well. Otherwise, you may be better off with learning traditional data analysis and statistical concepts.

  10. Koti

    I currently did MBA in finance, and wandering what to do next. As i am thinking to start a career in BA, i would like to request you to suggest me if i can still be a BA even though my computer knowledge is poor/good only….

    • Your computer knowledge or lack of it will not stop you from becomimg a business analyst.

      What will you stop you though is pre-conceived notions about what is required to become a business analyst.

      You may fall into a trap of making important decisions based on myths, lies or pre-conceived notions. The best defence against this is knowledge.

      What do I mean?

      STEP #1: Here … take the time to understand what business analysts do … their roles, responsibilities, duties, etc.

      STEP #2: Take the time to learn business analysis. Don’t assume that because you have an MBA, you already know what it takes to become a business analyst because you still don’t!

      Step #1 shows you what you don’t know a.ka. knowledge gaps.
      Step #2 bridges those gaps by giving you the actual knowldege of what it takes to be a business analyst.

      Do these two things my friend and you will be well on the way to becoming a business analyst :-)

  11. R. Goud

    I am currently working as a Team Lead and would like to go for business analyst role,

    please let me know what should I do (any courses) to full fill this (Iam done with my B.Tech and pursuing M.B.A).

    • What’s your Team Lead background (software development / QA / testing)? Becoming a business analyst means learning skills like UML, Use Cases, Requirements Elicitation, Validation, Analysis, Documentation / Management.

      In addition you have to evaluate your soft skills andinter-personal skills because those are usually harder to get from a class and if you don’t have them in goodf measure, you will find it hard to convince employers as to your suitability for business analysis jobs.

      You would also need good documentation and presentation skills (both oral / written).

      In terms of the hard core / technica; skills, click here to download a course curriculum and to get more information on starting your business analysis career.

    • Raghunath Goud

      Thanks for your reply ……I am working as a Team Lead for Technical support (ISP) in a call center can I still shift my career to a business analyst role(as iam keen to go for it) and if so what should be the first step that I have to go for as far as the soft skills and interpersonal skills are concerned I think i can make it .

      • Your first step is to enroll in a business analyst program or order some business analysis books and then self-study.

  12. balachandar

    i dont know where to start …pls guide me .what should i have to do first,,,,

    i have planned to learn some software course so that i can …what you thought

    • Learn more about the educatuional requirements for the business analyst profession. There is a lot of information on hwo to start a business analyst job on this site.

      1. Download the business analyst curriculum here

      2. Study or learn to become a business analyst

      3. Get some exposure to the business analyst profession while being still employed at your current job

      4. Transition into a full-time business analyst job when you build up enough experience and skills

  13. Balachandar

    I want to become business analyst.

    I did my MBA . currently working in BPO .

    My passion is to become BA. guide me pls

    • As you have probably discovered, having an MBA is not a ticket to becoming a business analyst.

      You have to make a fresh start and learn business analysis just like you learnty the MBA.

      After that, you canb start worrying about getting a job :-)

    • Hazel

      I started in 1975 in the Systems Department of a large financial institution as what was termed then a ‘Procedures Analyst’.

      I hold a BA in Political Science and several internal and external courses related to the IT business.

      Because I took programming (COBOL) my job title was changed to Business Systems Analyst. I also jointed Toastmasters so that I could give more effective presentations.

      In the last few years the term was changed to Business Analyst and a certification programme was developed for those working in a BA position.

      Business analysis is a problem solving skill that is complemented with business experience in a particular discipline.

      The skills can be transferred across industries, but the business experience is unique and this is what makes it difficult to get into the field as you must always start from the bottom to learn it.

      A Business Analyst is really a professional problem solver. To problem solve you must be able analyze, make decisions, and to communicate the findings effectively.

      In the IT world, if you are very good at problem solving and decision making you can advance to more IT senior positions such as project manager.

      One of my colleagues advanced to become a senior VP. If you have a passion for problem solving, its best to focus on an internship where you will job shadow an experienced BA and gain some experience in a particular discipline (say capital markets, credit cards, mortgages).

      Once you understanding the steps to problem solve, and the mission of the company you are working with, then you can apply your problem solving skills to help them solve their problems.

      Because of the differences across industries, it is only after being assigned to a job that you will build the hands-on experience to be a competent BA.

      The Title can be misleading when you want to apply for a position, so read the job description carefully. You are really applying for the position of a professional problem solver.

      I worked full time and then an independent consultant as an IT Business analyst but you casn be a NON-IT business analyst – working in broadcasting, stock exchange, etc. who work with the business managers only

  14. Enny

    i want to have a complete career change from It to Business Analysis

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