Before you dive into this section, get out pens or highlighters of at least two different colors. If you are reading online you can use the online editing functionality of your reader or simply have ready a sheet of paper with room for three lists. As you read this section be aware of areas in which you believe you have a good understanding. Consider “good understanding” to mean if you needed to do it tomorrow you probably could pull it off, possibly with a brief refresher. Secondly be aware of things that confuse you or that you don’t understand much at all, i.e. you don’t feel like you could do them tomorrow.
We’ll use this information later to help you craft a plan from where you are at in terms of your BA experiences to where you want to be: a prepared, confident potential business analyst.
BUSINESS ANALYSIS DEFINED
According to the IIBA: “A business analyst works as a liaison among stakeholders in order to elicit, analyze, communicate and validate requirements for changes to business processes, policies and information systems.
The business analyst understands business problems and opportunities in the context of the requirements and recommends solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”3 In essence, the business analyst helps the team move from ambiguity about the goals and scope to clarity. Regardless of the processes used, moving from ambiguity to clarity is an iterative process. Sometimes it’s like peeling an onion, layer by layer, but other times the route can be more complex and the road less focused.
These activities can be applied to all kinds of “changes” from organization-wide strategies to specific projects or initiatives. As a new or junior business analyst, you will most likely be working on one or more specific projects that someone else (whether your manager or a project manager or an executive) will have put some basic scope around.
As you become more experienced, you will be able to leverage your BA experiences to get involved in the upfront work in defining project concepts or helping to drive new strategies and programs. The rest of this section is written from the perspective of working on a relatively finite project as that is what your first business analysis experiences will likely involve.