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Tag: Career

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

New year…new job?  Many professionals are grappling with this decision and it’s hard to bring objective assessment into such an emotional decision. So how do we know if it’s time to go?

 

Reasons To Go

People rarely leave their job for salary increase alone. Forbes reported in 2022 that company culture, low salary, poor management, lack of  work-life boundaries and remote working were the top reasons people gave for leaving. In reality it is a complex blend of these reasons and others.

Once the idea of a new job has taken root, its hard to displace. By understanding what is making us want to explore if the grass is greener elsewhere it is easier to make an informed decision.

 

Reasons To Stay

It would be easy to assume that the reasons people stay within organizations and roles are simply the opposite of why people leave (I want to stay vs. I want to leave). But there is a further dimension which is partially or sometimes completely outside the employees control (I have to stay). External factors such as market conditions, skills and perceived “employability” can make someone stay in a role. So reasons to stay can be both personal, (“I like the culture and people”) and environmental (“I won’t find another role at this level/salary etc.”).

We all have responsibilities that cannot be ignored and not everyone gets to do their dream job, but it is always worth exploring the role that fear and self-doubt are playing in our decision making.

 

The Wheel of Work

A spider chart is a great way to visualize the key factors at play in a decision and how we feel about each aspect. One commonly used by coaches with their clients is the Wheel of Life. Here, we will narrow in on one area and consider all the factors which contribute to the decision to move jobs or stay put.

 

Step 1: Select up to 10 key factors related to work – the things which are making you think about moving, and the things which make you want to stay. These will be different and personal to each of us and will also change at different periods of our life. Try to select the ones which are most relevant to you right now.

Factors which commonly impact decision making in this area include:

  • Autonomy
  • Bonus/ Pension etc.
  • Community
  • Culture and values
  • Flexibility of location/ability to work from home
  • Length/cost of commute
  • Level of responsibility
  • Level of stress
  • Life Balance
  • Meaning/impact of the work
  • Recognition
  • Relationship with manager
  • Progression opportunities
  • Salary
  • Security/stability
  • Support for professional development
  • Variety
  • Working relationships

 

(Listed alphabetically, so as not to imply importance as this is different for each of us).

These are fairly tangible considerations. There will also be emotions which are more difficult to quantify, such as levels of anxiety, fear, boredom, respect, appreciation etc. that could also be candidates for inclusion in the analysis.

 

BATimes_Jan25_2023

 

Step 2: Enter the selected aspects around the wheel. Evaluate your current job against each of these. Ask questions around each aspect to prompt deeper thinking.

For example if considering “working relationships” – questions might include:

  • Who are my closest colleagues?
  • How often do I get to work with them?
  • Have people I care about left?
  • Have we stayed in touch?
  • Is this the best team I have worked in?
  • What made other teams better/worse?

 

Plot the figures 1-5, 5 being ‘could not imagine better’ and 1 being ‘could not be worse’.

 

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Step 3: Consider what this diagram is telling you. Is it surprising or confirming? Is it low in every aspect? Are there related highs or related lows? What’s the common thread? Is it just one aspect of the job you don’t like that is making everything feel worse?

 

Step 4: This creates a baseline. This can either be used to identify actions for improving your current situation, or as a basis for comparison for other opportunities. Once you have clarity on which aspects you are happy with and where things could improve – it is much easier to have a positive and constructive conversation with your boss. It demonstrates self-reflection and commitment to making your most effective contribution to the organization. Changing projects can sometimes feel the same as moving organizations – with new colleagues and fresh challenges.

There will be lots of ways to address the low-scoring areas identified.

 

Once you know what is important for you in a role, it can help your job search. It can also inform the questions you ask the recruiter/hiring manager. If you are in an organization with a strong and supportive community of practice for business analysts, it may be something which is important for potential new roles. Do they have one? If not are they open to establishing one?

Without paying attention to what is important, it is hard to translate a general feeling of dissatisfaction or unhappiness into tangible actions – either a targeted effort to change aspects of your current role, or a clear understanding of what a new role would need to offer.

 

Staying or Stagnating?

Using the wheel of work can help us to understand what is truly important at this point in time. Staying does not have to mean stagnating. Making an active choice to stay in your current role is as important as deciding to make a change. Committing to your role and organisation, committing to your personal development and committing to do this job to the best of your ability are all incredibly positive and this is a valid career strategy. This strategy may well pay long term dividends.

 

Conclusion

It’s a big decision to make, as our jobs are inextricably linked with our health, wealth and happiness. The decision has a lot of factors, which are incredibly subjective and there is no simple right answer or formula that can be applied.

Ultimately, we all know when it’s time to move on.

 

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

 

Bad Bosses for BA’s

Our relationship with our manager has a massive impact on our work, health and happiness. What makes a good leader for BAs and what can we learn from bad bosses?

 

Project Managers

PMs are often attracted to their role because they are skilled at delivery. It is very difficult to balance the competing demands of meeting delivery milestones with nurturing and developing individual team members. Having the combined roles of line-manager and delivery-manager puts project managers in an unenviable position, and if the performance evaluation of the PM is primarily concerned with project delivery, it is clear which role will take precedence.

Some of the worst examples of PMs managing BAs include:

  • Treating the BA as deputy PM
  • Assuming the BA wants to become a PM
  • ‘Hoarding’ the BA on their project, despite requests to expand horizons and develop
  • Vetoing analysis tools and techniques the BA wants to apply
  • Preventing the BA from speaking/presenting to senior stakeholders, reducing the visibility of the BA and unintentionally (or intentionally) taking credit.

 

If the person doing these things is also your line manager – how can you address the behaviours or find appropriate support?

 

Learning points

Where a BA is line managed by their PM, there needs to be recognition that there are two different relationships at play. The ‘best’ outcome for the project (BA assigned 100% of the time, forever) is unlikely to be the best outcome for the individual BA. PMs will sometimes have to put the needs of the individual above the project, or risk losing them from the organization entirely.

BAs may want to partition meetings or request separate ‘line management catch-ups’ which have more emphasis on personal development and wellbeing and less on project delivery.

The PM/BA relationship works best when they are a professional partnership. The roles have different skills and approaches, but are working towards the same delivery goals. This can be severely compromised if the PM is the only ‘boss’ for the BA.

 

Product Specialists

Product managers and product owners sometimes find themselves managing BAs. They may also want to ‘hold on to’ their BA indefinitely. They often value product knowledge over the BA skillset and expect BAs to become subject matter experts. If the only training and development opportunities they can imagine for the BA is ‘more product knowledge’, then BAs are not getting the support and encouragement they need from their boss. They may not understand the breadth of the BA role and skill set, and subsequently only allow the BA to operate in a very narrow role with a constrained set of tools, techniques and relationships.

 

Learning points

Refer to job descriptions to keep both BA and boss focused on the wide remit of the role, not narrow product knowledge. The BA should build strong relationships with business stakeholders and relevant teams, so they have easy access to business knowledge, but don’t become the keeper of this knowledge. Encouraging regular discussion of succession planning and rotation and re-assignment normalises the idea that a BA will not stay with a particular product for the long term, and what we are providing is a business analysis skills-based service, not a product knowledge-based service.

 

The Absent Executive

Whilst it may be appealing on paper for a BA to report directly into a CIO or other senior executive, it comes at a price. It can be very difficult to get their time, leading to an inattentive and shallow line management relationship. The BA is often faced with the choice of a distant relationship, with irregular catch-ups and never knowing if something more important may overwrite one-to-one time OR attempting to become the right-hand-man of the exec, picking up a range of problems and projects, but is subject to rapidly changing priorities. Neither of these are particularly appealing situations and neither provides considerate and consistent line management support for the BA.

 

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Learning Points

Reporting into a senior executive requires a high level of autonomy and independence. Some BAs enjoy working in this way so this can work well. However, everyone deserves to have a positive and supportive relationship with their boss and not see themselves as the lowest priority item on a very long to-do list. Investing in other meaningful relationships with more accessible colleagues may help to address the gap if a management void occurs. This could include a mentor, coach or trusted and supportive peer. Developing the community of business analysts helps to provide support and direction if there is an absence of management.

 

General Manager

There has been a rise in the belief that ‘a good manager can manage anything’. The problem is, this is not actually true and multiple studies spanning many sectors find that:

  • A manager who has skills and experience of a function leads to a higher performing function
  • People whose boss has skills in their discipline are happier and are better at their jobs!

 

A manager who does not understand or value business analysis is the worst possible boss for a BA.

 

Learning Points

BAs can help managers to understand the role and remit of business analysts and can champion the application of repeatable, rigorous analysis to aid decision making, understand customers, avoid risks, identify opportunities and improve services. It is always worth investing the effort to raise the profile and highlight the impact of good business analysis.

 

Organizations with sufficient numbers of BAs (5+) should be investing in a BA leadership role such as:

  • Head of Business Analysis
  • BA Manager
  • BA Team leader
  • BA Chapter lead
  • Head of profession for business analysis

 

Having individual BAs reporting to a range of roles and scattered throughout the organization does not allow the consistent application of business analysis, the opportunity to continuously improve or appropriate development and support of BAs.

Successful BA leaders are skilled and experienced in business analysis. They understand how to recruit and develop BAs and enable appropriate utilization and retention of BAs, saving the organization time, effort and money.

 

Conclusion

While there will be many examples of successful line management relationships from all of these roles, it is important to recognise the potential pitfalls and how they can be addressed. Not everyone is cut out to be a manager of people. Having a boss who cares about us as an individual, is interested in providing support and offering development and values the contribution we make should be the minimum we expect from our line managers.

Having a bad boss is bad for your health and career, so if you can’t change you manager, change your manager.

 

Further reading
Are you Losing BAs? C Lovelock, February 2022

How to Create Unique Value in your Business Analysis Career

It’s tough to stand out in a competitive job market.

With so many people vying for the same jobs, it’s more important than ever to be versatile and learn new skills.

Adding other skills to your core skills creates your unique value. By doing this, you’ll not only make yourself more valuable, but also more marketable in a competitive job market. So don’t be afraid to try new things and expand your horizons-you may just find that you’re good at them!

In a competitive job market, it’s tough to stand out from the crowd. But by adding other skills to your core skills, you can create unique value in your field. You will make yourself more valuable and more marketable to potential employers.

Business analysis has 5 core skills – analytical thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, business knowledge, and communication. However, when we add other skills around these 5, we are creating our own unique value proposition.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and expand your horizons.

Adding other skills to your core skills is a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition and create value in your field.

This gives business analysts the opportunity to explore various interests and develop a wide range of skills, which gives us a competitive advantage in the marketplace. By expanding our core business analysis skills with technical skills, business knowledge, techniques, soft skills and other abilities, we can position ourselves for success both personally and professionally.

 

1. What is unique value in the job market?

Your skills allow you to do your job well and competently. You develop these through experience and education. The better you are at certain tasks, the more marketable you become. However, in order to be truly valuable in the job market, you need to add other skills to your core skill set. This creates your unique value.

Let’s look at an example. Having the core skill of analytical and critical thinking and adding to that skill data analysis suddenly creates a unique offering from you.

Critical thinking is essential for data analysis because it allows you to connect disparate facts, synthesize information, etc. Likewise, analytical thinking enables critical thinking by allowing you to extract insights and actionable information from data.

So, by adding data analysis to your core skill set, you become someone who can take data and turn it into insights that can help a business grow and make sound decisions. This is valuable in any field, but is especially important in fields like business, marketing, and finance.

The bottom line is that adding other skills to your core skill set makes you more valuable and more marketable. These skills can be in any field, so don’t be afraid to try something new. The more versatile you are, the more opportunities will open up for you.

Having the skill on it’s own is only a fraction of the value you can offer. Having another one or more skills that you can use to complement that core skill creates your unique value.

 

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2. Discuss the importance of adding other skills to your core skills

When you can do more than one thing well, it shows that you’re versatile and capable of learning new things. This is important in a competitive job market, where hiring managers are looking for employees who can not only do the job they’re hired for, but also have other skills that could be useful in other areas of the company. By expanding your skill set, you’re making yourself more valuable and desirable to potential employers.

Having a variety of skills is also beneficial when it comes to career development. If you can do more than one thing, you may transition into different roles within the same company or even move into other industries with your current skill set. This can open many opportunities that you wouldn’t have access to if you were doing just one thing.

Finally, adding other skills to your core skills can help you stand out from the crowd. Many people may have similar job qualifications or experience, but having additional skills will make you more unique and memorable to potential employers. If you’re able to prove that you can bring something different to the table, hiring managers are much more.

 

3. Offer tips for expanding your horizons and trying new things

We have said it is important to be versatile, continuously learning new skills, and make yourself more valuable and marketable. You need to be expanding your horizons constantly.

So, how can you do this? Well, here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Get involved in personal projects that interest you. This is a great way to learn new things. For example, building a website or a mobile app. It doesn’t have to succeed for you have learnt new skills.
  2. Take classes outside of your field of study. If you’re interested in learning a new skill, there are probably classes available that can help you do just that. I did a course at Auckland University in Digital Forensics. Shortly afterwards, I was working on a project where I used some skills in the project to develop a security policy.
  3. Travel! Explore new cultures and learn about their customs. This is a great way to gain new perspectives and expand your horizons. You are a global citizen. I have worked in four countries now and in each one I have picked up the knowledge that I use today.
  4. Volunteer for a project or organisation that’s different from what you’re used to. This can help you gain experience in new areas and develop new skills.
  5. Make use of free online resources like LinkedIn, even Udemy at a low-cost price to learn skills. I learnt Azure’s machine learning capability of Udemy and used it in a research project for NZDF.

 

Of course, one needs to be strategic in this and not go off on a wild tangent. Have a plan and know what skills you can learn that will complement the core skill sets (see blog post) of a business analyst for your context.

Adding other skills to your core skills is a great way to make yourself more marketable and valuable in a competitive job market. By being versatile and learning new things, you’re showing that you can adapt to new situations and will take on new challenges. We’ve offered some tips for expanding your horizons and developing your unique value. Develop a habit of trying new things and learning!


Hey,
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to improve your skills and stand out from the crowd. And I think that adding other skills to your core skills is the best way to do just that.
That’s why I wanted to invite you to join me for my video series on the 5 Business Analysis core skills, where I’ll be discussing how to expand your horizons and try new things. This is a magnificent series that will unfold over the next few weeks to help you develop your unique value.
First video has dropped on YouTube – https://youtu.be/6jawdPsbYwU , so click on the link to get going with the first video the 5 core BA skills. Don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube Channel to get notified as the other videos load.

The Strategic Flexibility Approach in Solution Design

Compared with strategic management, strategic business analysis focuses on designing a sustainable solution in order the long term strategic goals and future demands to be fulfilled with the best way. Constant changes in internal and external environment require business analysts working on a specific solution to constantly assess solution approach and capabilities for success.

Strategic flexibility it terms of a solution may be defined as the ability of the solution to adapt to substantial, uncertain, and fast-occurring environmental changes that have a meaningful impact on the solution performance.

 

Strategic business analysis involves a future outlook. Detection of emerging threats and opportunities, prediction of their future impact, and the development of solution responses is something that should be considered before a solution definition. Ideally, the “future paths” should be incorporated in the solution itself in order “strategic adaptations” to be achieved with less cost and effort.

Because the environment is so uncertain and fast moving with many potential threats and opportunities, business analysts often finds it difficult to react using conventional business analysis approaches. Evaluating the likelihood and nature of the impact of each environmental change that can consequently affect the solution requires is challenging.

 

It is common that during the analysis phases of a solution definition, considerations of alternative ways to increase solution’s flexibility tend to be limited and ad hoc and not comprehensive, systematic, or formal.

Moreover, internal and external constraints on the style and experience of the business analysis team tend to dictate an inflexible approach that is not taking into account the future challenges and adaptations that will be necessary for the solution’s sustainability.

 

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Another challenge in embracing strategic flexibility is the lack of objectivity in flexibility and scalability options. This is inevitable given the lack of information for the future conditions and the difficulties in predictions.  Options concerning sustainable solutions tend to be subjective and informal. Flexibility levels are rarely monitored or even measured. An example of a subjective KPI is the time and the cost required to modify core flows in a system or the time and effort required incorporating a new group of users in an existing solution.

Identifying assumptions that had been made during design phases is crucial in order to clear out the future state and to develop contingency plans that can contribute to lower time, cost and effort in future changes. Well-defined contingency scenarios with specific responses associated with each future specific event may be decrease the response time required, once those events occur.

 

Paying attention at the confirmation of the elicitation results and trying to find areas for sustainability and preparation to change improvement should be cultivated in business analysis approach.

Last but least working towards defining specific evaluation criteria concerning the long term horizon solution flexibility as a response to future events is essential in an era of fast – moving and numerous environment changes.

References:
  1. David A. Aaker, Briance Mascarenhas, (1984) “THE NEED FOR STRATEGIC FLEXIBILITY”, Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 5 Issue: 2, pp.74-82, https://doi.org/10.1108/eb039060

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.