Before you can improve your business analyst career, you must answer some questions like; which direction should you go and what steps should you take to get there?
If these questions aren’t answered at the beginning of your career, you may wrongly focus on skills or competencies that will take you in the opposite direction of your goals!
To help answer these questions, I have provided you with some guidelines that will come in handy as you move forward in your business analyst career.
Are you concerned that you don’t have what it takes to succeed as a business analyst because you lack extensive paper qualifications, certifications or certain college degrees?
Well, you may be surprised to know that succeeding as a business analyst has as much to do with intrinsic factors like your personality as it has to do with the extrinsic formal qualifications you feel are lacking!
For example, if you have a passion for solving problems or you are the “go-to person” when there is an issue, you already have some of the intrinsic qualifications sought after in business analyst professionals.
You have heard that hindsight is 20-20 but what you will also learn in this article is that insight can be equally as effective because it helps you see the impact of changes before they are implemented.
Face it; as a business analyst, you have experienced changes in software features, systems or business procedures that created confusion or hindered your ability to do your job.
Therefore, you understand the anxiety or frustration of users whose job duties will be impacted by major changes in their systems, right?
The short, cut and dried answer is that both the systems analyst and the business analyst work on gathering, documenting, validating, managing requirements but the Business Analyst is more likely to do this with the objective of meeting business requirements while the Systems Analyst will is focused on analyzing, documenting or managing how the Information Technology (IT) software / hardware systems will be designed to meet functional / system requirements.
In a real-world project, the business analyst is more likely to be in charge of documenting the Business Use Case while the systems analyst will be responsible for documenting the Systems Use Case.
As humans we all process information through filters and one of those filters is your current job title / background!
Though your job title may work well for you right now, the moment you try and take on a different role, job title / background / responsibility, you end up running into a brick wall! … it is like people fold their hands and adopt a challenging, prove-it-to-me attitude!
So, in today’s post, I will answer a question submitted by (Jan) who has worked 15+ years for one of the largest IT Corporations “but still feels boxed-in / walled-in” by his current job title!
Now is a good time to “consider a more flexible career” because all the changes taking place in the marketplace are fundamentally transforming the way we work as well as the opportunities available to us!
This is great news for anyone interested in a more flexible career or employment including options to work from home, consult for companies or retire or travel while earning an income!
Have you ever contacted a company by phone and before ending the call, the representative asked if you wouldn’t mind taking a survey at the end of the
Or, in a restaurant, noticed a box near the register with feedback cards saying … “Tell Us How We Are Doing“?
The purpose of these surveys or feedback cards is to give you (the customer), the power to influence or change how an organization does business!
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again“, is a saying that generally works. However, if you want to increase your chances of entering the business analysis field, you will need more than “trial and error” to get a job interview!
You will need to have in hand, a resumé that shows how you qualify as a business analyst, even though your past positions were not specifically in business analysis.
I know a Vice President (VP) who hangs a sign outside his office that says: “Don’t Bring Me Problems … Bring Me Solutions!”
What he really meant by that sign is: “if you don’t know how to solve problems, then you don’t have a place in the organization” … makes sense now, right?
Problem solving is one of your most important professionals skills because regardless of your job description or position, “you are hired to solve problems“.
How well you deal with problems will be a determining factor in how successful you are at work or in life.
Janet, an Australian Software Developer wrote us about her fortunate experience in transitioning from Software Development to Business Analysis after 17 years as a Software Developer.
In Janet’s own words:
My employer offered me a BA position after recognising that I had certain “soft” skills such as communication, diplomacy and tact.
These combined with a background in analytical skills from my development days, and some agile skills from my days as a scrum master made for good potential as an agile business analyst.
Stephen Covey advises us to put “First Things First”
But, when it comes to our careers or jobs figuring that out or prioritizing the most important things proves to be a surprising challenge for many IT Workers!
For example, while some believe that certifications are required for getting a job, others put more value on hands-on skills and experience!
So, the question is, which comes first in your career, “your hands-on skills & experience” or “your certifications”?
You are a tool minded business analyst, if the first question that comes to your
mind on hearing the words: “Use Cases, UML or User Acceptance Testing” is: “what tool
should I use to create my Use Case / UML / User Acceptance requirements document
Tool minded business analysts are more interested in learning the intricacies, features
or behavior of the software tools used in their requirements elicitation, analysis or documentation tasks than in correctly
analyzing, validating or defining business requirements.
It has been said that to “keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.“
On the other hand, “if you want something you have never hard, you must do something you have never done!“
So, if your career is stagnating, step back and take an honest look at your work.
Is your work everything you had hoped for?
If the smell of fresh-brewed coffee is the biggest reward after you walk through the office door each day, it’s time to truly perk up your daily grind and reboot your career.
[Ask IT Career Coach] is a Career Advice Newsletter for Information Technology (IT) professionals including business analysts, computer programmers, data analysts, database developers, technical writers, project managers and software testers.
If you, have a challenging question about your career, submit it here and we will answer yours just as we are answering this question submitted by a technical writer titled: What Software Do I Learn to Become A Business Analyst? …
How do I learn or get the software knowledge that would make me a business analyst?
Models like Agile, Extreme Programming, Scrum or Waterfall are used by project managers, business analysts, software developers or quality assurance analysts to describe how a project is managed or a software product is built.
The software development life cycle determines how risks are managed, business requirements documented, resources estimated and allocated, stakeholder expectations or customer feedback is managed and when software / quality assurance testing is performed.
Each software development model recommends a set of guidelines or best practices for developing software.
You may start a business analysts career by taking some of the courses discussed in this post.
Keep in mind that for business analysis careers, soft skills count as much or in some cases even more than hard skills.
So, don’t make the classical rookie mistake of focusing on the hard skill requirements to the detriment of your soft skills!
The list of formal, informal or college courses that you may study for a business analyst career include:
The Process For Changing your Career Path Starts With Your Current Employer
Here is a real-world example of how to do just that.
The current challenge facing me is how to find the right process for re-orienting my career from Web Producer to an introductory Junior position as Business Analyst.
I don’t hold any qualification in Business neither as Business Analyst but I am fully dedicated to becoming one.
I have just started reading books and doing research about this position and the responsibilities it entails.
Why Do We Need Better Requirements?
The following article is a frank, open and surprising discourse on why we need better requirements.
According to Standish or Gartner reports and other case studies, nearly “two-thirds of all IT projects fail” because of poor requirements and other causes.
Why Do Projects Fail?
Consider that a project fails when it overruns the budgeted allocation of resources, time or money or fails to deliver the intended business requirements or value.
Some teams are so deep into this, that throwing more money, people or extending the shipping date is their default solution to scope creep, budget overruns or project failure!
Identifying your transferable skills is the first step towards successfully transitioning, changing or starting a new business analysis career.
Though this article is written for those starting a business analysis career after having worked as a computer programmer, the principles presented here are helpful to anyone interested in starting any new career.
The first step in starting a new career is building self-confidence by recognizing that the career you are transitioning to has some relationship or similarity to the jobs you have performed in the past.
In some organizations, the technical lead or senior software developer is also asked to gather, analyze or document the software development requirements.
This may be the case when:
- Cowboy Coding -The Organization has not fully embraced any formal software development methodology
- Cost Cutting -The manager wants to cut costs by not hiring for full-time business analysts
- Role Differentiation – The IT / Software Development manager combines the business analyst role into the software development role
But, does combining the business analyst and software development role work or is it better to hire full-time business analysts for your team?
This post answers questions received from senior business analysts asking about how to carve out an upwardly mobile career path in their company or organization.
The answers in this post are presented as tips, solutions or ideas for business analysts looking towards a better career path.
If you have a question about your business analyst career, be sure to post it as a comment on this post and I will be glad to answer it for you.
Here are the tips for business analysts looking for a better career path:
Is Requirements Management Helpful?
If you work in an office where requirements management is a low priority, an afterthought or a process imposed by senior management, you may begin to lose sight of the value that requirements management offers.
In between chasing down your stakeholders for interviews, wrestling with your use cases or managing conflict and corporate politics, you may decide to abort what sometimes seems like meaningless meetings or endless paperwork.
What you may not know is that the reason you’re chasing down stakeholders or having so much trouble gathering requirements is that you don’t have an effective Requirements Management framework in place.
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
The good news is that the economy is adding on jobs because it is the time of year when budgets have been approved and employers traditionally post more jobs and because the economy is also beginning to recover.
This is as good a time as any to dust off your resume, polish your act and start the career you have always wanted.
This article tells you how to do that … get back into the job market and start the business analyst career you’ve always wanted!
In response to the post: Is a Project Manager or a Business Analyst Career, a Better Fit for You?, a reader sent in the following comments about his experience as an agile business analyst.
In both Iterative and Agile methods, the BA is (or should be) involved with requirements gathering, project communication and facilitation, translating technical and business jargon, holding development to the business needs during the execution phase through Alpha Testing, demos, walk-throughs and issues management.
BAs often write the Test Cases and, surprise the Test Scripts when the project doesn’t have QA resources.
The Business Analysts Role In Bringing Data Warehousing To Your Office
Today’s business executives spend a ton of cash on data warehouse projects because that is a big, key, strategic business initiative; the success of which weighs heavily on their minds.
Data warehousing is important because it saves or aggregates information in a manner that allows executives, management or office users to make strategic business decisions faster, better and more easily!
No More Silos In The Workplace
Data warehousing is critical to business success because it presents a way for executives or management to view or manage their corporation as a whole unit instead of in silos.
The Agile Business Analyst plays a key role in facilitating conversations between stakeholders, quality assurance / testing teams, customers, subject matter experts (SMEs) and software developers in an incremental, iterative fast-paced product development environment.
So, who is the Agile Business Analyst and why should business analysts who are already comfortable with the process of eliciting requirements in a traditional product development environment be concerned about becoming more agile?
Introducing The Agile Business Analyst Role
The Agile Business Analyst’s role includes facilitating communication, reducing the reliance on extensive documentation and reducing the length of the feedback loop in product development projects.
5 Steps to a New Business Analyst Career
I talk to a number of business analysts interested in changing careers to new domains.
They come from diverse backgrounds (insurance, sales, financial, etc.) and they all share a common goal … that of switching careers to new domains.
So, when one of these business analysts asked; if I would like to throw more light on changing BA careers / domains at job interviews, I was glad to say yes 🙂
I have been talking to a number of software developers, interested in changing roles to business analysis. If you are one of those software developers, then this post is written to show you how to switch careers from software development 🙂
There seems to be some bias against switching roles to business analysis from software development. It’s a subtle form of discrimination from folks who stereotype all software developers as nerds with poor presentation and communication skills!
But is that really true? Are you poorly suited for a business analysis role just because you’re a software developer?
On the contrary, software developers can make good business analysts and I will dedicate the rest of this post to debunking this myth … just as I have done with several urban legends on this blog 🙂
I’ve taken dozens of IT job interviews with various IT departments ranging from small IT shops to Fortune 500 IT departments to non-profits to consulting firms to staffing or recruitment agencies!
I’ve been interviewed and hired for both management and non-management IT positions. I’ve personally interviewed, hired and also coached IT Professionals who’ve gone on to wow their interviewers or ace the IT positions they wanted.
I’ve been in several situations where to get the next consulting assignment, I interviewed with several firms and also received multiple, competing job offers!
Are database development, computer programming, data analysis or web development required skills for Business Analysts?
Perhaps you’ve seen, heard about or applied for jobs asking for a broad or seemingly impossible range of skill sets?
Like those job descriptions for business analysts requiring computer programming skills or those for PMP Certified Project Managers with 5 years of software development experience!
This post addresses “how to bridge the gap between business analyst skills and unfair job descriptions written-up by Information Technology (IT) departments”
Is a business analyst with domain knowledge more valuable than a business analyst without domain knowledge?
By looking at how business analyst job descriptions are written, you may be tempted to say yes!
Business Analyst job descriptions are written as if there is a distinction between IT oriented business analysts with skills in UML, Use Cases, Requirements Elicitation, Requirements Modeling and domain oriented business analysts with knowledge in specific domains like sales, marketing, customer relationship management, insurance, finance!
One of the toughest challenges facing business analysts today is building the domain experience required for business analyst jobs.
Acquiring business analyst domain experience from scratch is hard because you need to get a job before you can build domain expertise … yet no-one will give you a job without that required domain experience!
This post however discusses how to get around the business analyst domain experience required for business analysis jobs.
This question was posted by a Healthcare Business Analyst looking for work!
If you have a Burning Question or a Challenge that you need help with, be sure to ask your question as a comment on this page and I will answer it fully just as I am answering the question below!
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This question was posted by a Business Analyst in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.
If you have a Burning Question or a Challenge that you need help with, be sure to ask your question as a comment on this page and I will answer it fully just as I am answering the question below!
Here is the Question:
One of the biggest hurdles facing business analysts in the current job market is the challenge of demonstrating the hands-on experience required in business analyst job descriptions
This article explains “how to improve your marketability as a business analyst by targeting business analyst job descriptions.”
Let me start by saying that there are two types of hands-on experience required for business analyst jobs:
General Business Analysis Experience: This type of experience is gained by practicing or using
general business analysis skills including Use Cases, Requirements Gathering, Requirements Modeling, Requirements Elicitation, UML etc.
Use Cases skills are in-demand for documenting or communicating the functional requirements of a system
Use Cases skills are employed in product design roles, software development or architecture roles and are among the most sought-after skills for business analyst jobs
Why Use Cases Training for Business Analysts?
Here are some of benefits of Use Case training for business analysts:
Use Cases are effective for documenting the business processes, requirements (business or system), features and functionality of a system. So Use Cases skills are needed at the problem analysis or requirements gathering phase, software design or development phase or testing phase
Do you wish to know how to succeed at business analyst job interviews? Here is the secret.
Business analyst interviews are designed to evaluate two things:
- Your business analyst skills
- Your business analyst experience
How Sharp Are Your Business Analyst Skills?
At your business analyst interview, you are evaluated based on the correctness, promptness or comprehensiveness of your answers.
Give the correct answers
Your answers are evaluated based on how precise or correct they are.
Even when the business analyst interview questions are open ended, your answers are still evaluated as correct or incorrect.
Have you noticed the increasing demand for business analysts with stronger software skills or a wider range of skill sets?
Because this is a top hiring trend, business analysts have expressed concern about the range of skillsets requested for on job postings.
Some of these strong concerns are often worded as:
What software skills do business analysts need?
Should business analysts be made to learn computer programming?
Which software programs are required for business analysis jobs?
Along the same lines, one of the concerns expressed is; should business analysts have in depth knowledge of SQL, Access, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and Reporting writing software?
I am dedicating this article to answering a question posted by an independent contract business analyst. If you have a question or challenge about your business analyst career, post it as comment at the end of this article and I will answer it for you:
Here is the question posed by the independent contract or consulting business analyst:
… I got hired by a consulting firm. I was under the impression that I was with a company with a team-oriented environment. By this I mean that I thought I would be working with project teams etc.