As a programmer who moved into business analysis I got most of my business analysis skills the old fashioned way:
- through trial and error,
- working on many projects,
- stealing from those who succeeded,
- learning gotchas from those who failed,
It was rare when I stumbled upon an experienced consultant who was willing to mentor and who was able to explain the details of the craft.
Chances are, if you want to become a valued business analyst, you will also have to learn the old fashioned way. But, lucky you, there are many resources popping up geared specifically towards business analysts - including books such as:
I must admit that I'm guilty!
I didn't rush out the door to buy any of these books. I guess I'm still stuck in my old habits of learning by doing.
Having said that, I was lucky enough to get my hand on a copy of Barbara's book Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis (thanks to J.Ross Publishing).
I just got through reading the first chapter and...
... I'm impressed (so far)!
The first chapter, Possess a Clear Understanding of Business Analysis, provides a great overview and introduction to our profession.
Through logical explanations and 'case in point' examples, Barbara takes the reader through the basics of understanding the roots, role, and future of the business analyst.
She talks about a number of things such as:
What is Business Analysis? - she mentions:
- "Identification of business problems and opportunities"
- "Elicitation of needs and constraints from stakeholders"
- "Analysis of stakeholder needs to define requirements for a solution"
- "Assessment and validation of potential and actual solutions"
- "Management of the product or requirements scope"
The Role of the Business Analyst - with good insights into:
- Business Analyst traits
- History of Business Analysis - I particularly liked this section because it clearly spoke from Barbara's experience on real projects in real organizations.
- Where do BAs come from (IT vs. Business)
- Where business analysts report
Who Makes a Great Business Analysts - includes:
- A list of "the BA must..."
- A Business Analyst Suitability Questionnaire
- Career progression for the business analyst
Key Business Analysis Concepts - such as:
- What is a Requirement?
- What is a Project?
- What is a Product?
- What is a Solution?
- What is a Deliverable?
This section also makes a good case for "Why Document Requirements?" which is nice to see in the midst of all the hype about Agile and "documentation is bad" rhetoric. I've worked on enough large scale projects which would have not survived without documentation.
(If you're wondering: I prefer "just enough" documentation!)
So far, the book has proved to be a good an easy read. I'll keep you posted on my thoughts as I progress further in the book.