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.
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.
This question about the value of networking in one’s career was submitted by Reba from (Olympia, Washington). Here is Reba’s question:
I have a strong interest in entering the business analyst field as a career path, however, it is very difficult to access this field as a state government worker.
Many individuals have entered this field by knowing someone or networking.
They do not always know what their job duties are and do not deliver a good product to the customer, so to ensure I do not go down that path, I would like to make sure I receive training, exposure to the business analyst field to include hands on experience.
[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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
Develop Your Personal Brand And Become a Leader
This course teaches you how to develop and use your competitive advantages in the workplace, job market and industry using the PULL method.
You will learn how to become a leader in your industry by developing and taking advantage of your personal brand using PULL techniques.
By the end of this course, you will have learnt how to select the best leadership projects for your industry based on your background, skills, education, training, job history and interests.
Become a Leader And Get The Job You Want!
Getting a job by sending out resumes to employers is known as the push method because it depends on you pushing the employer to hire you!
The problem with the traditional method of getting a job is that everyone who is out-of-a-job is probably doing the same thing … pushing their resumes to hiring managers or employers!
Getting hired in a competitive job market doesn’t mean … “do what other job applicants are doing” … it means “do more than your competition!“
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 writing this post to answer a question posted by a business analyst on “How To Become A 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 as well 🙂
Here is the question on how to become a contract business analyst.
Having recently started in my first permanent position as a Business Analyst, I find the toughest challenge for me currently, is getting up to speed with the systems I have to analyse and develop (Risk Management and Finance Systems).
What is Requirements Elicitation?
Requirements elicitation is the process of identifying the sources of requirements for a new system and obtaining those requirements from those sources.
Potential sources of requirements include users, documents, regulators and even legacy software code.
Requirements elicitation is a crucial part of the Requirements Gathering, Documentation and Analysis Process.
It is a critical business activity that requires the focus of a skilled business analyst.
Regardless of the elicitation techniques you choose or how you implement those techniques, you need to do whatever it takes to understand the real needs of your customers.
You can find out “what employers look for in a job candidate” by browsing business analyst job descriptions.
However, you will notice that some business analyst job descriptions are poorly written!
A weak business analyst job description does not provide enough information for you to compare your skill set against the requirements posted on the job posting.
A Well Written Business Analyst Job Description Is An Effective Hiring Tool!
Here is an example of a weak or ineffective business analyst job description:
Once you’ve determined that Business Analysis is your dream job your next steps will be to get trained, get networked and get your entry level business analyst job.
SigningUp For The Business Analyst Boot Camp
The next thing you will need to achieve your goal of becoming a business analyst and at the minimum, getting an entry level job, is to get trained.
What should you do when you decide you want to become an IT Business Analyst?
You may have been a software developer, data analyst or even someone who has never worked in the Information Technology industry at all.
Perhaps you have an MBA or other business degree, but you have an interest in technology and you think IT Business Analysis is something you’d like to try your hand at.
It is common knowledge that the biggest reason for IT project failure is poor requirements. If the requirements that the developers are working from are wrong, incomplete or otherwise inadequate, that project is doomed to join the 70% of IT projects that fail every year.
So why not simply gather good (SMART) requirements? Ask any business analyst and they will tell you that the biggest problem they face is getting users to tell them what they really want out of a new system or process. Why? The reasons are varied. Sometimes it appears that users simply won’t communicate what they really want. Sometimes it appears that the business analyst is asking all the wrong questions. Sometimes it appears that the users change their minds all the time.
If You Are Alive, You Want More Money! or you’ve been thinking of ways to increase your salary as a business analyst … yes, you have.
If you’re human and still breathing, what you get paid and how to make more money crosses your mind ever so often.
For good or bad, it is human nature to always want more.
We want more money, more love, more space, more friends and more fun.
This can be a bad thing, if it becomes an obsession that overtakes the desire to do a good job.
You always want to make sure that the training programs your attend match your career interests and aspirations, right? … so pay close attention to what I am about to say next.
Effectiveness of Traditional Class Room Training
Late last year I was mentoring, coaching and training a software development team. One of the members of the team had paid more than $6,000 (Six Thousand USD) for a class-room based training & certification program.
To fund the training which required an upfront, full payment, he raided his savings account and took on additional debt.
Business analysts come from a wide variety of industries and from varying backgrounds. Because of this, you need to be flexible in your expectations of the type of work you will perform as a business analyst.
More than 50 major domains or industries that hire business analysts including the web development, web design, e-commerce, software development, information and marketing industry.
As the business analysis industry matures, software developers, database designers, software architects, project managers and professionals with diverse backgrounds are taking on formal business analysis jobs.
When gathering or analyzing requirements, it is just as important to focus on the process that you are using to develop your requirements as it is to focus on the requirements themselves.
If you have a poor requirements elicitation or management process, you risk not understanding the business problem you are trying to solve or turning out a poor product.
The cost of Information Technology (IT) project failures has become so high that one can no longer ignore the fact that business analysts need to invest a good amount of time into understanding what they intend to build.
No doubt you already know how the recession affects the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Unemployment Rate or Stock Market. So, I won’t waste your time by repeating all that bad news.
What I would talk about is what really matters:”how you or your loved ones can protect your finances by staying employed in this recession!“
The best way to keep your job in a recession or to find a new job easily is to become “The Most Over Qualified, Under Paid Professional” on your team.
Here is why becoming over-qualified and under-paid work hand in hand to protect your career: