Today my day started with a message from a friend: “How to become a business analyst? Where to begin?”
Traditionally, I answered: “From Vigers!”
And then I thought
If you approach the issue as a business analyst, then you need to start by looking for the root cause.
Why do you want to become a business analyst? Why do you think this is your path?
The main reasons that most often push people to go into business analysis in Belarus.
“This is one of the easiest ways to get into IT for non-programmers.”
A business analyst in Belarus will have to dive deep into the design of the software. Humanitarians will be more difficult. You will have to learn how to work with databases, APIs, classes, objects and data attributes.
“In IT, high salaries”
Comparatively high salaries are guaranteed with high returns, but not immediately. Accept that you will have to start with the traditional $500, even if you were a bank manager before. Nobody wants an expensive junior. Having useful skills and experience in other areas will accelerate your career growth and move towards a high salary. However, don’t expect much from the start. Expect that the salary will not be high for a year or two. However, the average median salary in the US for a BA position is $96,000 per year before taxes (look for the salary report on the IIBA website). A business analyst has an average salary all over the world.
“I have good communication skills, I like to communicate with people”
Being able to communicate with people is not the same as being able to get the information you need from them. Think about why torture was invented if it would be enough to be able and love to communicate with people.
And what about the ability to express your thoughts in such a way that everyone always understands you unambiguously, without any “but I thought”, “I meant”, “this is obvious”? Are you able to formulate your ideas clearly, concisely and consistently?
How to become a business analyst?
This is a change of state from “I am not a business analyst” (the situation as it is now) to the state “I am a business analyst” (the situation is as it should be).
Consider your desire to become a business analyst systematically, the way business analysts do.
1. Analysis of the current situation
Be honest with yourself about how you think and how you reason.
Do you have an analytical mind? Do you think systematically? Are you rational or emotional?
Google tests, think about your life and actions, how you make decisions and make choices.
Conduct a SWOT analysis of your abilities and capabilities.
Be sincere. If you are a humanist to the marrow of your bones, emotionally make decisions, and rely on feelings and intuition instead of common sense, perhaps business analysis is not for you. Think, for example, about design. Analytical thinking is also required there, but there is more room for intuition and empathy.
2. Learn as much as you can about business analysis
You may have a romanticized idea of a profession. Usually it sounds like this: “I fly on business trips, meet with top managers of Fortune 500 companies, they tell me about business problems, and I offer ideas and solutions.” Expectations and reality are very different. It can be a shame for the aimlessly lived years.
Find 2-3 experienced analysts from different companies. Ask them to talk about their real work, as well as separately about what their working day, week, fortnight (sprint) and month looks like. Listen carefully, take notes, ask questions. At the same time, work out the technique of interviewing.
3. Google jobs and every requirement in detail
Need to be able to write Use Case? See what it is. Would you like to write use cases every day? Right? Then explore what Facebook integration looks like for the Login with Facebook feature. Yes, this is what most of your work will consist of.
If you have the right initial data, you are not afraid of technical complexities, hundreds of pages of technical documentation and monotonous duties, then you can move on to analyzing the future state and planning the transition.
Start with a plan!
For some reason, not enough attention is paid to planning in all business analysis courses. It is believed that the junior does not need it. My American mentor used to say: “Olga, you are a business analyst, plan it!”. Business analysis is always and in everything is planning.
Think about why you went to university. Yes, exactly for this. To learn to learn. Look for content for each Success Criteria. Google it! Everything that Google gives out on the first three pages in English on the topic of business analysis is usually very suitable. American, Canadian, British and Australian business analysts write well about business analysis. Develop your critical thinking skills and document analysis techniques by studying and comparing different sources.
Google courses on e-learning platforms like Lynda and Udemy. They are either free or inexpensive.
Join Facebook business intelligence communities at Belarus, follow the news, go to meetings of analysts, read articles and books that are recommended there.
Study Vigers from cover to cover.
Read BABOK and learn the basic concepts. By heart and with understanding.
For $50 a year, you can become a member of the International Institute of Business Analysis and get access to a chic library of books, read at least 5-7 books on business analysis with a good rating on Amazon.
Find a mentor. Communities and Linkedin to help.
Get hands-on experience.
This is the most difficult point, because they don’t take a job without experience, and in order to gain experience, you need to get a job.
The easiest way to work theory into practice is to find a project at a hackathon. At the same time gain experience in working in a team.
Find a mentor from business analysts and ask for feedback on the quality of your requirements, ask for the opinion of team members. Repeat several times.
You will be required to be able to write Vision and Scope, Software Requirements Specification, Use Case, User Story. Try to write these artifacts yourself for ready-made systems, for example, for Tinder. Seek feedback and improve quality. This is your portfolio, then show it to the interview.
10. Go to interviews to gain interview experience.
11. Try to get an internship at an IT company.
12. Sign up for courses.
Business analysis is a synthetic direction that plucks a little bit from different disciplines. If you read at least 4 different articles on the same topic (use case), you will see that everywhere they write the same thing, but from different angles and in their own words. But the essence does not change, the bicycle has already been invented.
Therefore, there are only two fundamental sources in business analysis: BABOK and Vigers.
If you are able to master these books (gray and orange) on your own, then there is no point in going to the courses.
The only plus of the courses is the practical part, when you write the requirements and do your homework. But there is little practice, large IT companies open their own courses, where they additionally train course graduates.
And if you expect that the courses will give you information in a structured and orderly form (and this will be the case), then go back to goal setting and think about why you are not able to do it yourself, because the ability to structure large amounts of information is the basis of work business analytics.
It’s all about hard skills. It will take up to six months of daily classes to pump from zero to junior level.
Now about soft skills
BABOK has a great Underlying Competencies section. We master everything that is written there. The better your soft skills are developed, the easier it will be to work and grow up the career ladder. We practice for life.
Not lower than B2. I recommend reading books in English, so you will quickly form the necessary vocabulary.
Listen to audiobooks because you will have to understand what the customer is saying.
Look for opportunities to practice speaking with native speakers.
Just Do It!
I do not name specific sources and books intentionally. This is a test of how prepared you are to elicit information and requirements. This is a test of your ability as a business analyst.
Good luck with your new profession!