Career as a Business Systems Analyst

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Congratulations! You've just won your first large client and you are being chosen to play the role of the Lead Implementation Consultant for the engagement. You are being chosen because you are, at your core, an excellent BA and have a very high level of expertise about the product or solution that has just been sold.

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As agile methods become widespread in organizations, it’s not surprising to see the idea of the business analyst as a dispensable role taking root among IT project teams. After all, in agile approaches, tasks typically performed by a business analyst, such as requirements elicitation, analysis and documentation, are replaced by a conversation between customer and developers.

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We BA's are occasionally asked, "What do you do?" I try to make a joke out of this innocent question by replying, "Well, what would YOU do with English and writing degrees? I'm a Business Analyst of course." People don’t laugh.

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In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the practice of resume writing is not what it used to be. Resumes must be more clean, concise, and convincing than they were in recent years. Today’s business analysts need every edge they can get.

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While my co-workers know me as a manager of Business and Systems Analysis, others know me as a Triathlete (A triathlon is multi-sport event involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance events; most commonly swimming, bicycling, and running).  It was while reading a recent article about Triathlon that I began to draw a strong parallel between achieving career goals as a business analyst and achieving goals as a triathlete. 

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Once while teaching a business analysis elicitation course, a student in the class asked me, “Have you ever had a wasted interview with a stakeholder?” The question took me back, a surprise; a question I had not been asked before.

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In an ideal world, all software projects would have an interaction designer or user experience (UX) specialist working with the team to ensure that the product is designed in a way that truly satisfies the needs of end-users. In a software project with separate business analyst and interaction designer roles, the work of these professional is complementary

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On February 12, I wrote and passed the CBAP exam on the first try. I had completed my application way back in September but hadn’t been able to find an exam sitting date that I felt would give me enough time to study. I finally decided in December that I would never find the perfect time so I set the date for early February and told myself I’d find a way to make it happen.

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There are as many types of business analyst personalities as there are organizations and projects. The million-dollar questions is, how can a manager match an analyst’s unique skills to the projects that can really benefit from them, helping to ensure a project’s success? How can a manager build stronger, perhaps more suitable skills in his analysts?

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Abraham Maslow once said “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” This article provides the project manager (PM) / business analyst (BA) a framework for categorizing business problems as a baseline for selecting a solution development life cycle (SDLC).

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“The overall purpose of Business Analysis is to build a bridge between business and IT”. This is a good enough definition for a position as hard to define as Business Analysis.

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Taking a long lens approach to looking at 2011 is an apt metaphor that should serve as a reminder to BAs of the perspective they need to take to in terms of both their professional development and their role in the organization. There’s no better time to take stock and strategize on how to best prepare for the opportunities and the challenges you’ll experience ahead.

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As I look back on the last nine years of my BA career, I realize just how well that initial reason for leaving the call center, that desire to make a difference for my customers, has served as a guiding light for me as a BA. Providing my customers with tools and processes that anticipate problems they may have has been a goal throughout my years as a BA.

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Many business analysts lack a clear strategy to improve their abilities and increase the value they deliver to their organizations. They don't spend any time considering performance goals and envisioning strategies to achieve them, and as a result, they miss opportunities to continue to evolve and grow their role and responsibilities over time.

Fortunately, there are some steps that any BA interested in becoming a star performer can take to close competence gaps and learn new behaviors and strategies capable of increasing their productivity and the quality of their work. In this article, I will address one of the most effective ones: setting clear and measurable performance goals, and finding opportunities to practice the related skills that can produce the desired performance improvement.

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Yes, the world is flat, and the reality of today’s global economy is that business analysts (BA) from all corners of the earth – North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific – often work with one another. But they don’t always understand how business efficiency is impacted by the comprehension of their inherent differences. There are fundamental philosophical and behavioral differences between professionals across the world that impact business success. If BAs aren’t readily capable of adapting to the environment in which they work, they are most certainly setting themselves up to fail.

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