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Author: David Newstead

Five Questions for BA John Fraser

John Fraser brings an energy and commitment to all his projects that truly compliments and builds upon his years of experience in strategic business process improvement.

In short, you know when John is in the room and today he joins me for five questions about his career and his insights on being a Business Analyst.

You bring a lot of enthusiasm to your work, what motivates you as a BA?

I am a BA Enthusiast that is committed to getting the job done. I do this by managing both expectations and project constraints, which results in an atmosphere where project members feel proud of the result and ensure client expectations are exceeded. Our Process & BA Capability Lead, Scott Rainey, always says “Our Business Analysis Team is directly connected to the problem statement and the value from business case to implementation,” and it’s the truth! What also motivates me is seeing BAs come into their own going from an Entry-Level to a Junior Role, to a Senior Role – to Thought Leaders in their craft!

 What positive trends are you seeing across your BA community of practice? And how are you addressing the challenges that inevitably arise in BA work?

What is trending majorly is the skills for BAs to understand, Data Management, Data Visualization, and Robotic Process Automation to help streamline activities for organizations. To help combat BA Challenges, we meet bi-weekly and discuss challenges and come up with solutions to help address those challenges. In our Community of Practice, all the BAs have a voice. Our CoP’s purpose is to provide a forum for continuous improvement of North Highland’s Business Analysis skillset through collaboration, mentoring, and education.

Throughout your career, you’ve worked across several different industries. How has your BA role varied from one to another?

BA roles differ in organizations because some organizations want BAs to focus on one thing (i.e. Process Mapping) when that’s only a subset of a skilled Business Analyst. BAs should be involved in multiple areas to truly provide value back to any organization.


What’s your favorite technique?

My favorite technique is the Scope Context Model helps describes the intended business change by helping stakeholders understand:

  • How the solution contributes to the goals of the organization
  • The expected, provable measures that indicate solution success
  • When the solution is considered done
  • Who will be consulted for requirements information
  • Systems which might be impacted (or needed) by the proposed change
  • Users of the intended solution and how they will interact with it
  • Key assumptions, constraints and out of scope considerations

What project do you want to tackle next?

I would like to tackle a “game changing” effort that really pushes the needle for an organization that will benefit the industry and the BA’s role in its success.

A Conversation with BA Mindy Bohannon

Mindy Bohannon is an expert and thought leader who consistently shares best practices with others,

fosters professional networks wherever possible, and mentors young business analysts trying to make their way in a fast-changing economy. Because of that zeal for her work, I wanted to learn more about Mindy’s own career path and her perspective on all things BA.

How did you first become a Business Analyst? And what was that experience like?

I was a developer for ten years, then supported a content management system and finally tried being a Project Manager for a year. It was all good experience to figure out what I didn’t want to do in the long-term. I noticed I enjoyed interacting with the customers and working with the developers. For me, it was a natural progression to be a Business Analyst. It was tough at first. I was asked to do things I didn’t know how to do. Sometimes I figured it out and sometimes my leadership didn’t want to train me and gave the work to someone else. Mostly though, I had helpful managers and colleagues that took the time to teach me new methodologies.

From your vantage point, how do the realities of BA work today differ from when you started your career?

I started as a Business Analyst in a waterfall software development shop and the methodologies there are different in some ways. I learned and used UML since a developer manager there liked to use it. I strongly believe in UML diagrams and use cases. However, now I work in an agile team where UML would be considered heavier documentation which agile doesn’t believe in. At least I still get to use some of the diagram tools – pictures are universal! Also, I’ve been a Business Analyst for around ten years. When I started it was just then being recognized as a real profession like Project Managers. Today, the certification is gaining respect (CBAP from the and we’re recognized as being more than notetakers.


What’s your favorite BA technique?

My favorite technique is drawing process flows (heart diagramming). With any data or organization or business process there’s a first step and a last step and many things that happen in the middle – in a system or manually. Understanding that current state and then future state usually reveals many unknowns to the development and business teams. Complexities are uncovered and stated simply for everyone in easy to understand symbols.

What are you seeing as you mentor more and more Business Analysts at the beginning of their careers?

I had a good variety of work experience before becoming a Business Analyst, as a consultant and in-house employee. More people are trying to become Business Analysts earlier in their career and I think it’s harder for them to understand the complexities and dependencies of their work in relation to other users and systems. I think everyone needs to do something for a year or two before becoming a BA. Many other jobs have some type of critical thinking and analysis in it and it’s easier to learn in other jobs before a team relies solely on you to do it all the analysis for them.

True or false: You’re a BA girl in an Agile world? Follow up question, how does Agile increasingly factor into your work?

True! I truly enjoy being a BA on an agile software development team. First, I have only ever worked IT and second, working in an agile world is what I consider working humanely. Before all else – agilists understand that we will work collaboratively, trust and respect each other and be transparent about our work to each other. Other team norms are created by the team and for team (not by a manager) – and so we are self-organizing and held to be responsible for ourselves and our team.