Name: David Smith
Title: Sr. Business Analyst
Employer: HBOS plc
What company do you work for?
HBOS plc, one of the UK's 'Big 5' banks and Britain's biggest mortgage lender. HBOS is due to merge with Lloyds TSB in Jan 2009, which will create one of the UK's largest financial institutions.
What is your main role (not job title) at your current employer?
I currently have a split role in a small IT development team, as a Business Analyst working on the rollout of Microsoft's Customer Care Framework (CCF) to the Branch Network (including Defect Management and Implementation Planning) and also managing a small group of Developers who support and enhance the Presentation Services Framework (PSF).
What do you find challenging about your job?
Most of the projects I have worked on at HBOS have been 12-18 months in duration (waterfall methodology), meaning that it can be up to 18 months between each set of Requirements Gathering, Process Modeling etc., As you tend to be assigned to a project for the whole life-cycle you end up doing things that are not typical Analyst roles, i.e. Test Management and Implementation Management. I'd like to spend more time gathering requirements, process-modeling and writing Use Cases.
What have you found that makes your job easier?
Microsoft Visio - until recently I was producing BPM's and Flowcharts in PowerPoint! I'm sure that there are packages out there that would make other aspects of my job easier, but working for a large company you only tend to be able to use 'standard applications'.
How did you become a Business Analyst in terms of career progression?
After graduating from University with a BSc in Electronic & Electrical Engineering, I started my career in Industrial Sales, moving into IT in the run-up to the Year 2000 as a Junior Consultant with an IT Services company, which involved providing Y2K training to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and also some COBOL and DB2 programming. I then moved to Asda (a large Retailer) where I learnt to build simple applications using VBA. After the company was taken over by Wal-Mart the IT Department was brought back in-house which gave me the opportunity to become a Business Analyst, supporting Item File, Merchandising and EDI Systems and capturing and documenting requirements for systems development. I then moved to HBOS where I have progressed from BA to Senior Business Analyst, in addition to having a 12-month secondment as Project Leader.
What is one piece of advice that you would like to pass on to junior Business Analysts?
Understand the business, and what is important to them. Sounds obvious but I've met a lot of BA's who understand the back-end of systems but not how the business works. At Asda/Wal-Mart IT and Business shared the same building, which meant that I saw most of the Users of my systems on a daily basis, got a good understanding of how they worked and the strategic direction of their departments. This meant I could build good relationships and deliver what the business really needed.
What does a day in your role as Business Analyst look like?
Meet with customers (other IT Departments who want to use CCF/PSF), produce and track Project Plans, manage and report on System Testing, manage the team's finances, deal with team issues, Implementation Planning, coach/mentor other BA's.
If you were to learn a new skill or competency what would it be and why?
I've spent the last four years at HBOS working with the Waterfall methodology, but the team I am in now is more 'agile' so I'd like to get a better understanding of Agile methods. I'm also considering taking the CBAP as I feel that this would validate all that I have learnt over the past 9 years or so.