Tag: Career

BATimes_Nov17_2022

Important Techniques for CBAP Certification Examination

This again is a very frequent question that we receive from our CBAP participants. BABoK V3 has 50 techniques and obviously, all techniques would not be of equal importance for all three certifications. Some techniques are more important to junior business analysts and some techniques are used more by the Senior Business Analysts.

In this article, we are going to categorize the techniques into three categories based on their complexity levels. Low complexity techniques are more useful for ECBA aspirants. Medium and high complex ones are more important for CBAP examination aspirants. High complexity techniques would require CBAP practitioners more time and effort to understand and be comfortable with.

You must be wondering how did we come up with this list?

It’s primarily based on inputs from many of our past CBAP participants regarding what kind of techniques challenged them more during the CBAP certification examination. Secondly, most business analysts start their careers as requirements analysts and as part of requirement analysis work, they use some techniques more extensively than others. Techniques that typically belong to strategy analysis planning and solution evaluation are the techniques where usually many have a lesser comfort level and obviously, they need to pay more attention to those techniques. Three specific areas that we would advise CBAP participants to pay attention are the techniques related to Financial Analysis, Decision Analysis, and UML.

Here are a few blogs and videos that we published which will help CBAP aspirants:

Estimation

https://www.adaptiveus.com/business-analysis-estimation-technique/

Metrics and KPI

https://www.adaptiveus.com/business-analysis-world-indicators/

Data and Concept model

https://www.adaptiveus.com/concept-model-vs-data-model/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdvgaxqTkmE&feature=youtu.be

Process analysis

https://www.adaptiveus.com/process-modeling-vs-process-analysis/

Business model canvas

https://www.adaptiveus.com/balanced-scorecard-vs-business-model-canvas/

Non-functional requirements

https://www.adaptiveus.com/blog/non-functional-requirements

 

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Stakeholder list, map, and personas

Here is a summary of important techniques for CBAP certification:

Author: L N Mishra, Co-Founder, Adaptive US

 

L N Mishra co-founded Adaptive US, a business analysis skill development organization, working with professionals from 80+ countries in skyrocketing their BA career and staying ahead of the game. He has helped 5000+ BA professionals to achieve better salary and role in their BA career. He is the ONLY trainer who holds all 7 certifications from IIBA (ECBA, CCBA, CBAP, CCA, AAC, CBDA, and CPOA).

LN has authored 12 best-selling books on business analysis. He is also a Versatile trainer, coach and speaker on all IIBA Certifications.

Grab a copy of best-selling eBook –  FREE 50 CBAP Exam Mock Questions Plus Comprehensive CBAP Exam Information utilized by 1000s of BA professionals to ace their IIBA exam.

 

LN is also a member of IIBA Question Setting Committee, mentored 100+ global clients and 3000+ Bas. He has 24+ years of working experience as a Business Analyst and conducted 1000+ workshops in business analysis, requirements engineering and agile, project management, requirements engineering and different BA Skilled webinars.

Please write to LN if your thoughts are in sync with his or if they spark a thought in you.

BATimes_Nov16_2022

Recruitment Metrics for BA Teams

Being involved in BA recruitment is a big responsibility. It’s hard to recruit right now, and it’s easy to blame the competitive market and skills shortage. It’s tempting to leave measurement and metrics to HR teams, but there are a number of key concepts all those involved in BA recruitment need to understand.

 

Time To Fill

From the point we become aware that a new or replacement BA role is needed, a clock starts ticking. Whether someone has handed in their notice, or a new project has emerged, we now have a gap that needs to be filled. It is so important to understand our average time to fill (TTF) for each role on the BA career path, as this aids decision making, including the use of short term resources such as consultants, contractors and secondments.

Typically more senior roles take longer to fill, because the talent pool is smaller and the demand greater. Having internal talent pipelines reduces the TTF and creates internal progression routes and clear BA career pathways. Ensuring these are in place improves knowledge retention, employee loyalty and morale and serves as an attraction factor for BAs outside the organization.

TTF includes internal processes of gaining agreement and approvals, getting a role posted and engaging with recruiters. This is often a hidden time over-head, and usually an area where organizations can speed up their recruitment.

 

Time To Hire

This marks the time between making a role available for applications and having someone in post. It includes the interview process and the notice period of the candidate.

Recruiting managers often put pressure on candidates to try to reduce their notice period. This is unfair, when it is the only period of time in the whole process which is outside of the recruiting organizations’ control. If we want people in faster, we should look to improve our own processes! Sometimes organizations exclude notice periods from their time to hire metric, to stay focused on the elements within their control.

Knowing the average time to hire helps us keep stakeholders informed, and contributes to better planning and onboarding.

 

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Conversion

At each stage of our recruitment process people drop out or are ruled out. This can be visualized as a recruitment funnel. Understanding the conversion rates between different steps in the process allow us to answer question such as:

  • How many applications do we typically need to find one appointable BA? [conversion rate from application to accepted offer].
  • How many candidates accept our offer? [conversion rate from interview to accepted offer].
  • What can we do to improve our conversion rates? (Faster processes? Better marketing of roles? Better communication with applicants?…)

 

If we understand where in the process we are losing people, and really consider the candidate experience, we increase the chances of a successful recruitment outcome, and save both time and money. Different organizations have different levels of formality, and may include more or less interview rounds and steps in the process. However formal or informal, it is valuable to understand the key conversion rates.

 

Attrition/Turnover

This is the rate which we lose BAs from the team over a given period. Not all attrition is bad, we need to support people to move to new and appropriate roles, and we need to allow BAs with new ideas and different experiences to join the team. Generally an attrition rate of less than 10% is considered healthy for team stability and business continuity.

Retention is the opposite measurement to attrition. This is the percentage of the team that stay during a given period. Focusing on ‘increasing retention’ is a more positive framing of the issues than ‘reducing attrition’. Recruitment is expensive, the cost of replacing BAs is far more than the cost of investing in appropriate initiatives which retain talented BAs in the organization. By asking and listening to what individual team members want from their role and employer we can increase retention rates (money will be a key factor, but not the only one!).

 

Tenure

This means understanding how long people stay with us and can be considered  at different levels:

  • Average length of time in each role/grade within the BA structure
  • How long people stay within the BA team
  • Total amount of time spent within the organization.

 

This is helpful to understand the rates of progression within the team. If we have entry level/development roles within the team, how long before people typically progress to a practitioner role? It allows trends and patterns to be explored. If we find people either stay less than 1 year or more than 10 years, what insights can be gained? What does that tell us about our recruitment and retention processes?

With further analysis we can understand the push and pull factors which keep BAs within the team or encourage them to look elsewhere. It also allows us to consider what internal development routes we offer into related professional disciplines.

 

Conclusion

In this competitive market, with increased demand for business analysis skills and the ‘great resignation’ making people consider their options, BA teams need to fully understand our own processes and look for improvements. A greater focus is needed on recruitment and retention, and we can no longer rely on ‘recruiting as we always’ have to make great appointments and grow our teams.

 

Further reading
Are you Losing BAs? C Lovelock, February 2022
Job Crafting for BAs C Lovelock, July 2021
BATimes_Nov10_2022

Best of BATimes: 99 Tips To Be A Fantastic Business Analyst

Published on August 29, 2019

1. BA yourself

This is one thing that only some professions can do. An Actuary can’t actuary himself, a developer can’t code herself, a mechanic can’t mechanic himself. We can analyze ourselves. Use your skills. Decide what a fantastic BA is; research, interview, question and then review yourself. Do some gap analysis and then formulate an action plan.

2. Be nice

No one wants to work with a jerk. No one wants to help and supply information to a jerk so engender support. Thank people, go out of your way to be personable, establish friendships and mutually positive working relationships.

3. Understand project lifecycles

Get to know all the steps in project lifecycles, not just your own and especially the intricacies and peculiarities of the adaptation used by your organization.

4. Be a mentee

There is much to be learned from Analysts further along the road than you.

5. Present well

Don’t dress like a scruff, smell nice, clean your teeth. These are surely basics but I have met people in business who have overlooked these things and they are avoided. You can’t be avoided and be successful. 

6. Prep prep prep

When you go to meet a stakeholder, especially for the first time, prepare. Understand who they are in the business and project context. Ask them for any pertinent information to be sent for your review in advance. Maximize the time with them to appear (or be) effective and efficient and they will happily give you more.

7. Be on time

Your prompt arrival in the office and at meetings will give you more poise than if you rush in late. It is the fruitage of an organized and self-correcting individual.

8. Work on your confidence

We’re not all naturally confident but by reassuring ourselves of our abilities in our BA skills or in our industry knowledge we can instill the needed confidence and trust from our business stakeholders that we can understand their world view and needs.

9. Don’t reject difficult things

They help you grow. Be the BA that accepts unusual assignments and see your career enriched and flourishing.

10. Get good at cost benefit analysis

Don’t leave this to the PM. At project inception, or for minor changes, be able to determine with appropriate certainty whether to accept or reject activity. Maintain a project which can stand-up on its own merits.

11. Be optimistic

Pointing out the bad may be necessary but if you find yourself always the nay-sayer then fix it. Problems are our business. Our optimism can make for a gentler change process.

12. Get your desk in order

Give your workspace a make-over. Keeping it clean and orderly can help you be organized and looks a lot more respectful.

13. Go to a conference or two

Hear some new stuff. Mingle with your peers. Feel proud to be part of a greater something.

14. Help others

You have a project deadline, sure, there’s always one looming but give your fellow BAs your assistance. It will broaden your knowledge and strengthen your team.

15. Be strict about your change management

Keep a record of changing requirements and details about them. It will save you the red face when, inevitably, someone will ask you later for paperwork.

16. Do your actions

If the PM has to continually chase you for your actions they will resent it.

17. Don’t be offended by the red pen

Your work will be reviewed, heavily. Welcome critique and correction. Never be upset about any proposed edits. The individual has spent time immersing themselves in your work and for that you can be grateful. It will make your work better, or at least more acceptable to your audience.

18. Volunteer to share your knowledge

Blog, post, present at lunch-and-learns, write-up how-to guides. There are always people who don’t know what you know so share.

19. Model

Use models a lot. Business people invariably find models easier to verify than paragraphs of information and it brings the potential delivery to life. Architects, Developers and Data Analysts thrive on a well-produced model.

20. Learn, learn and learn some more

If you have the means then don’t stop learning. There is so much training available in BA skills, industry knowledge, peripheral project skills, business knowledge, techniques and soft skills.

21. Offer plentiful walk-throughs

By walking-through your outputs with developers, testers and business representatives you reduce the risk of misinterpretations.

22. Finish your projects

This is especially true if you are a contractor. It’s not good practice to leave a project part-way through if you can help it.

23. Develop strategies for juggling

You will have to work on many things at once. Find what works for you to avoid loss of productivity. If you have yet to nail this there are plenty of productivity tips and hacks on the internet.

24. Clear paths for people

Be someone who anticipates down-stream problems and blockers for yourself and others and intervene.

25. Categorize people but know your exceptions

Use personality and character traits to help you understand the motivations and reactions of your team but note that exceptions exist. Tailor your interactions to fit.

26. Don’t jump to solutions

Have problem-formulating conversations to focus your mind away from solution-mode.

27. Form collaborative relationships

When you collaborate you are more likely to get early and continuous buy-in, nothing will come as a surprise to your end client and you get immediate feedback on your work. It’s worth the extra effort.

28. Find your key SME voices

The quality of Subject Matter Experts is not equal. I have seen business users hide information for a variety of reasons (most understandably) making elicitation more than the usual effort and I have had System Testers guess answers and present information as fact. Hunt for good sources of information and verify what is said.

29. Play requirements back

Saying things like: “So if I understand this right, what you needs is…” saves misunderstanding.

30. Work to uncover implicit requirements

What assumptions have you or your customers made that they haven’t vocalized. Set aside some time and thought to uncovering these.

31. Know your audience

The level of detail that you go to should reflect your audience, know this before you start your elicitation. Get it wrong and you either waste time or have to re-work.

32. Recognize that accuracy is important

Particularly in your written English. If you can’t get that right, what else might get called into question.

33. Start with context

Ask: “Why the project exists?”, “What will be the end results?”, “What benefits are sought?” Then work from there.

34. Document what you won’t build..

..and get it agreed. It doesn’t mean it can’t be changed but it will at least be recognized as a change rather than something that you missed.

35. Get creative

With care not to promise an outcome, suggest ideas and alternatives to users during elicitation. Possible options can be used as a sort of model to tease out other requirements.

36. Read widely

The IT industry is constantly changing and working practices follow hot on the heels. Our understanding of business practice, psychology, methods for collaboration and effecting change progresses. Manuals, how-to guides and handbooks to support our work are plentiful.

37. Don’t forget your non-functionals

If you don’t include these in your document template as standard, add a section for each non-functional as a reminder to consider it.

38. Don’t gild the lily

It may not be scope creep as such but it’s easy to gold-plate our requirements with unnecessary items. Admirably this is usually in response to wanting to deliver the best but these types of extras add up. Work out what your Minimum Viable Product is and then be sure to note any additions as just that.

39. Revisit your prioritizations often

Work with your group of SMEs to get your product features delivered in the right order but remember that things change so schedule re-prioritizations throughout delivery.

40. Evaluate your own skills

Choose a couple of areas for improvement, write them down and formulate some actions that will help you improve them.

41. Look for “free”/cheap benefits

By knowing what’s off-the-shelf or can be achieved with relative ease you can maximize the product and minimize the cost.

42. Ask for feedback

At suitable points during and at the end of projects get personal feedback. Asking people who will give you constructive critique is valuable. Keep it. In years to come you can see how this helped you to change and grow.

43. Find balance

Don’t neglect your personal life. Finding a good work-life balance helps you cope with the ups and downs of projects.

44. Connect with others

Associate with other Business Analysts. Everyone knows different things and that diversity is valuable. Learn, share, help and be helped.

45. Know when to shut up

You’ve raised a risk or an issue but no action has been taken, so you raise it again or differently. It’s good practice to be assertive but there comes a point when you have sufficiently noted it and taking it further causes consternation. Learn where that point is and stop before you reach it.

46. Be a mentor

You know more than you think you know. Give back to the profession by sharing that with someone following in your footsteps.

47. Work as a team

When you work with other BAs, even if you’re tasked on different items, work together. Peer review, support, offer and ask for opinion and share experience.

48. Make your research visible

If you do background reading, conduct surveys, read manuals, hold workshops then put your findings as links or appendices to your documents. Don’t make someone who may need to pick up your work at some later point have to start from scratch.

49. Expand your comfort zone

Do something a little bit uncomfortable, just a little. It will make you capable of more in the future.

(See www.batimes.com/articles/personal-growth-through-discomfort.html)

50. Be agnostic to the solution

If you begin with a pre-determined solution or have a particular software package in mind you won’t be working on behalf of your client.

 

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51. Be flexible to software development lifecycles

Learn to work waterfall, agile, fragile, whatever your client wants. Help them build on what they have.

52. Work with positive people

When you get a choice, pick to spend your work hours with optimists. Lift your chin up and thrive with them.

53. Don’t plagiarize

It’s fine to get inspiration from other text but word them in your own way. The process of breaking something and re-working it allows you to assimilate it properly.

54. Create your own templates, improve others

If templates don’t exist within your organization start to build a repository as you work. Have one eye on how a future project may use the template. If your organization does have templates, seek ways to improve them.

55. Hone your toolkit

Rich pictures, sequence diagrams, business model canvas, running workshops.. and the other scores of tools and techniques in the BA toolkit. Practice them and then get them into your workplace. The more the merrier.

56. Encourage newbies

We were all new once. The profession is constantly refreshed with new and trainee BAs. Welcome people. Help them.

57. Don’t get stereotyped

Take on projects in areas that you haven’t done before so that you have experience and confidence in delivery in as wide a range of topics and disciplines as possible.

58. Avoid too much future-proofing

While it’s a very useful consideration some attempts at future proofing just don’t fit with the future when you get there. Unless it has wide application and has relatively no cost or impact to the project don’t overengineer it.

59. The devil is in the detail

Ask for detail and then spend time understanding complexities. If you don’t, annoying requirements will rear their ugly heads later, when you’re further down the road than is desirable.

60. Order your own tasks

It’s in our nature to do enjoyable things or things which are easy or small first and then rush others. Avoid this by monitoring deadlines and dependencies taking into account impacts from other people and their availability.

61. Decide what your goals are

Ask yourself where you want to be in 5 years and put a plan into place. It may be various certifications, it may be working on certain types of projects, with technologies or in specific locations. Work out the steps you need to get there.

62. Ask for help

No man is an island. There is no shame in asking for help whether about your career, with techniques or technical aspects.

63. Archive and catalogue

Don’t leave files, part finished documents, reference material and other artefacts as collateral damage of your work. Archive your documents, catalogue your information and generally make it easy for people to work out what are the most recent versions and what supports them.

64. Have a to-do list

Don’t risk forgetting important tasks for something as simple as keeping a list. Be organised.

65. Its ok to make mistakes

We are human and mistakes are inevitable. Know that you will make them and decide that dealing with them diligently and humbly will be appreciated and respected.

66. Estimate using metrics

If you’re asked to estimate for a piece of work, use quantitative methods as much as possible and share the information on which it is based.

67. Add a glossary

I have not seen a BA deliverable yet that hasn’t benefitted or would benefit from a glossary (either within the document or at project level). To determine what goes into it, consider your audience. You may need to add business terminology to give framework from IT readers and IT and project terminology for the business.

68. Vanilla is not the only flavor

Don’t forget about alternative flows. The abnormal activities are generally the pain points for most businesses. Overlook them at your peril.

69. Get your must-haves right

The MoSCoW rating is incredibly useful and the priority of requirements must be stated explicitly but it is only useful if you have ratified that a must-have requirement is absolutely necessary. Double check.

70. Chunk up your work and take breaks

By creating a series of much smaller tasks you maintain motivation as you complete activities and as a result have natural break points to re-energize you ready for the next task.

71. Speak up

If you see a possible method of improvement have the courage to vocalize it, respectfully and professionally.

72. Flesh out a plan but be flexible

Plan your assignments in a work-breakdown structure, so you can keep an eye on your own progress but don’t be too rigidly stuck to it that you can’t make the most of stakeholder time when they are available.

73. Do it now

If you get the choice between doing it now and doing it tomorrow; do it now. Procrastinating individual items adds up to lost time and missed deadlines.

74. Be motivated and committed

Volunteer enthusiastically, actively pursue end goals, deliver on your deadlines.

75. Find your USP

Maybe you’re a people person, good with data, can see the bigger picture, are an influencer, have specific technical expertise or domain knowledge, run killer workshops, are highly accurate….everyone has a unique selling point. Whatever it is, find it and use it.

76. Be an observer

Keep an eye on what your peers are doing. Look for cross-over and gaps between their work and yours.

77. Don’t cut corners

Guessing, not completing research fully, ignoring the quiet opposing viewpoint, not determining the full stakeholder group, failing to verify background information, removing valid approval stages are all ways to store up later problems. Don’t cut corners.

78. Run your own project

Is it possible to start a little business of your own? Doing this lets you really test your BA skills.

79. Display kindness and patience

When projects get pressurized this will make you stand out and be someone others want to have around.

80. Understand your Subject Matter Experts

Put yourself in their shoes. You’ve invited them to sit in a long meeting? Make it interesting, schedule breaks and bring biscuits.

81. Get your unfinished specs reviewed

Reduce your own risk of large rework by shipping parts of your document early and get feedback.

82. Take the initiative

Make suggestions. Improve your own team’s processes. Create bodies of knowledge. Organize socials Involve yourself.

83. Keep your requirements updated to the end

A change has been made at the eleventh hour, everyone knows about it, is there any need to take time-out to correct the documentation, especially when the pressure is on?….Yes. If you don’t, no-one will be sure of any of it in the future.

84. Take a step back

During meetings and workshops, take time to observe; interactions between people, gauge motivations. There is a lot more to be learned than comes in through the ears.

85. Control/Challenge scope

Consider scope constantly. It is the bread and butter of getting the optimal solution for the composite group of stakeholders.

86. Mock stuff up

User interfaces, documents, reports. Let your end users see and play with the final product at the design stage.

87. Minute your meetings

It doesn’t have to be War and Peace but make notes. Dictate, doodle or mind map if it’s a more effective or efficient method for you.

88. Give people a “starter for 10”

People provide what you want more quickly if they’re not starting from scratch. If you have a template, provide it. If you want data, provide the table to be populated. If you want a quote, propose a sentence.

89. Learn standards

If there is a UML or ISO way of doing something then try to use it. It’s less ambiguous.

90. Use data analysis tools

Many Business Analyst roles include research in data. You can be more self-reliant if you are capable at manipulating it.

91. Use requirement ‘numbering’ for more than a unique reference

Use prefix letter, suffix letters and sub-numbering to store information about the source (stakeholder or actor), expected delivery method (various IT systems, manual processes, teams, department or companies) and dependencies on other requirements.

Eg, CS75-S.1 (CS = Customer Services, S = SQL, .1 = 1st child requirement)

92. Don’t be vague

Make requirements specific. Eg the phrase “needs to be run regularly” should be “needs to be run twice a day, usually at 12pm and 5pm” and the phrase “other systems use it” should be “three Access databases, listed in Appendix C, link directly to the data”

93. Find your best packages

Find and get proficient with tools and application supporting BA work. Eg, for producing and tracking requirements, for producing diagrams, flows and other models, collaborating and conducting meetings, managing work, etc.

94. Change control your documents

Applying version control saves your readers’ time. Be specific about what’s changed in your version history and use function for highlighting changes.

95. Understand development basics

Gain some knowledge in the basics of development; processes, data and events, components and re-use, integration with other applications, design principles and constraints. Learning to write in a pseudo code style can help with that mentality.

96. Understand test basics

Gain some knowledge in the basics of testing; test condition design, what a tester needs from your documentation.

97. Conduct Stakeholder Analysis

Don’t leave this to your project manager, do your own. Know who your influencers are, your VIPs and any potential “troublemakers”.

98. Ask effective questions

Questions are the keys that unlock treasure troves of information. Closed questions are useful when you need to be specific and open questions are needed to allow free-flow of knowledge transfer. Learn how to make them effective and unbiased.

99. Get qualified

There are a number of qualifications tracks available in various jurisdictions. International Institute of Business Analysis, British Computer Society and International Requirements Engineering Board. For gaining knowledge in the fundamentals as well as sharpening practitioner skills it is invaluable and a résumé necessity.

BATimes_OCT27_2022

Business Analysis Portfolio: An Aid for Professional Development

Have you ever had a sense of business analysis déjà vu – the feeling you have used a particular business analysis technique before, but can’t quite remember what you did or how you did it? I know I have!

Business analysis is a broad and varied profession that can involve everything from narrow, well defined tasks to broad, strategic assessments. Business analysis can be performed in the context of a specific project or initiative, as part of pre- or post-project activities, or in support of ongoing operations. Over the course of a career, a Business Analyst can be exposed to numerous project delivery methods, business domains, and organizational cultures. It is this variety and continuous learning that bring many practitioners to the profession in the first place.

The BABOK contains 50 techniques, the 3rd edition of BCS’s Business Analysis Techniques 123 – it is impossible to be an expert in all business analysis techniques! While some techniques will become the mainstay of a business analyst’s arsenal, other techniques will be used infrequently to assist in specific circumstances. A final, polished piece of analysis is often achieved by carefully selecting and combining multiple techniques to build a coherent picture that encompasses different perspectives. Business context, stakeholder preference and understanding, project constraints, and a Business Analysts own personal experience can all impact technique selection.

Creating a work portfolio is a good way to keep track of the techniques you have employed in the past and the outputs you have delivered. As you move through your career, your portfolio can provide:

  • reference material to support the delivery of similar analysis products.
  • illustrative examples to use when explaining analytical approaches and deliverables to managers and junior Business Analyst colleagues.
  • a record of professional development and growth.
  • inspiration when applying for new positions or promotions.

Your portfolio can include:

  • Work Samples: Where possible, maintain copies of business analysis outputs you have produced for future reference.
  • Templates: Templates are particularly useful for those structured techniques that are performed infrequently. Generic templates can be adapted to different business contexts and domains.
  • Articles and Reference Material: Keep a record of the sources you have referenced when delivering analysis, either by keeping copies and/or maintaining a catalogue of useful books, articles, and websites.
  • Work Diary: Narrative descriptions can be used to record what you did and how you did it in enough detail for you to reference should you ever need to perform a similar task again. Use a work diary to record information about the business context, tasks perform, stakeholders consulted, and/or techniques used in the production of an analysis deliverable. Work diaries are particularly useful in circumstances where contractual restrictions, privacy and/or secrecy prevent you from holding original copies of your work. You can also use business analysis techniques in your work diary entries, such as mind maps, process models and scenarios.
  • Course Material: Include information from any courses, study groups and/or conferences you attend that might be of use in the future.

 

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Some things to consider for your portfolio:

  • Maintain it – review your work and add to your portfolio regularly. While routine maintenance is recommended, project gateways, end of employment/contact, and/or end of year are good times to take stock of what you have achieved, what you have learnt, and what information you want to retain.
  • Organize it – you are more likely to use an organized resource then an unorganized one. How you organize your portfolio is very much dependent on you and how you work. However, aligning your portfolio with BABOK Knowledge Areas or stages of the Business Analysis Process is often a good starting point. Also consider using naming conventions and keywords to tag portfolio items to assist with searching as your portfolio grows.
  • Remember context – the amount of work required to deliver a single, pristine business analysis output is often deceiving. A myriad of techniques may be employed on route to the final, acceptable product. It is good practice to file your work with some contextual information to remind yourself of the business situation, intermediate steps, additional techniques, and issues you had on the journey to the polished artifact.
  • The good, bad and ugly while you shouldn’t dwell on the negative, remember that bad experiences are learning opportunities too. Using a work diary entry to reflect on a situation where a particular approach didn’t work can provide useful learnings for the future, as well as help put bad experiences behind you.
  • Be mindful of copyright – remember that the copyright for work you have been paid to produce for another entity is almost certainly held by a third party. Take care to respect all copyright. When in doubt, de-identify information and/or use work diary entries in place of original copies. In cases where you do own the copyright, you may still want to take care when sharing material as it is your IP!
  • Be creative – while you will most likely draw on your professional roles for the most of your portfolio examples, there are other, creative ways to build your portfolio. Many aspects of life can benefit from a bit of business analysis rigour – getting your home budget under control, selecting the best suburb to move to, or assisting a community organization to suggest a few. It may sound flippant but using techniques in general life can be a good way to try new techniques, apply techniques in a different context, and build examples to draw on in the future, particularly when you are just starting your business analysis journey. (You never know, it may also help you achieve a better outcome for you, your family, and/or community group!)
  • Use it – a portfolio is only valuable if it is used… so remember to use it!
References:
1.  Business Analysis Book of Knowledge v3, Institute of Business Analysis, 2015.
2. Cadle J, Paul D, Hunsley J, Reed A, Beckham D, Tuner P, Business Analysis Techniques: 123 essential tools for success (Third edition), BCS, 2021.
BATimes_Sep22_2022

Best of BATimes: 4 Common Mistakes Made When Looking For Your First Business Analyst Job

Published on: May 12, 2021

Often when I coach Business Analysts to land their first Business Analysis Job, I find that either they have no strategy and just throw darts and hope one of them hits the bullseye, or that they make some serious errors in how they approach it.

Darts does sometimes work, but not always (read my e-book on 13 strategies for your first Business Analysis Job) and if you do the following errors then it takes just as much wasted effort.

Let’s look at some of the common errors I see:

 

1. Don’t Have A Plan Or Strategy

Many prospective candidates who want to break into Business Analysis don’t have a strategy or plan. They send their CVs out to every job ad that mentions Business Analysis.

The first thing I look for when I get CVs for job ads is if the person takes the time to match his/her skills and CV to the position they are applying for.

A successful business strategy comes down to the following. First, what are your goals? Getting a job as a Business Analyst isn’t a SMART goal.

If we think of SMART then it comes to the A – achievable ask yourself is this achievable i.e. are you accountable for it.

I think it is important to have a goal you are accountable to achieve, no one else. Getting a job isn’t entirely in your control, is it? Someone else has to agree to it, and you don’t have that authority.

An appropriate goal would be something like:

“I will engage at least x recruiters per week with my CV”, or

“I will spend at least x hours a week looking for Business Analysis jobs that match my skill set”.

So let’s test those two through SMART:

S (Specific) – Yes, I am specific about what I wish to achieve.

M (Measurable) – Yes, I can measure how many

A (Achievable) – Yes, because I am responsible for them.

R(Realistic) – Yes, I can do either one.

T (Timeous) – They follow a schedule.

 

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2. Your Resume Or CV Makes You Sound Like You Know You Know What A Business Does – Not That You Can Do The Job

When receiving a CV, I also look at it to determine if it seems like the person has a good understanding of what a Business Analyst does and if their experiences on the CV reflect that.

You don’t have to actually work as a Business Analyst to have real Business Analysis experience. You can have it regardless of what you do.

So I am looking at the title.  Even the BABOK 3.0 says it is not about the title but the tasks when defining what a Business Analyst is.

It is the skills, the experiences, and the tasks and related activities that a candidate performed in that role that speak to their understanding of a Business Analyst, and that even the candidate can recognize the tasks they have performed that are applicable to a Business Analyst.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to an employer and they told me about how many CVs they are rejecting just because the CV does not position a candidate with relevant Business Analysis task experience.

 

3. Your CV Must Speak The Language Of The Job You’re Applying For

You putting job before experience and not experience before job

A few days ago I was coaching a client who wanted to become a Business Analyst. They are in a non-Business Analyst role. I was trying to find out how much experience they have in tasks related to Business Analysis.

I asked what I could do to fill the gaps of experience. He said there are none and I will wait until I have a Business Analysis job to acquire the experience.

Here is the problem. Employers value experience. It is no different in any job application. Even doctors have to go through a community service program before they are allowed as practicing doctors.

You must embrace it, so think about how you can gain relevant experience at your current location.

I love the saying “We grow into opportunity”.  Apply the skills now and learn, gain experience, and reflect that on your CV.  Then the opportunity will come.

 

4. Focus On Certification

As a member of the IIBA, and CBAP certified individual, you are probably raising your eyebrows. Let me explain.

Certifying yourself is one good way to learn about Business Analysis, gain accreditation with peers, and boost your confidence. Yes, it does play a role in getting a job.

However, for an entrant in Business Analysis you must understand that employers want experience foremost.  A certification doesn’t give you that. Just like a degree doesn’t give experience, it gives knowledge.

Do the certification to gain knowledge that you can apply to gain experience.  Back to having the right goals again.

You need to put in the time and have SMART goals that you can achieve. Then, your strategy flows from there. It’s not an overnight thing either. Work at it, and adjust your strategy as you go.

When you have worked hard for your first opportunity, it will come.

 

For more strategies download my free e-book “13 strategies to getting your first Business Analysis job” – https://www.altitudejourney.com/ba-career-starter