Date: 08 June 2021
Business Analysts (BAs) are often asked “Just what exactly is it that you do?” It’s a good question and provides not just an opportunity to explain what we do, but how, while at the same time looking at the qualities and qualifications required from a successful BA.
First, the ‘what’. BAs work with organisations to help them navigate through change, optimise their processes, problem solve and support the implementation of new systems. By understanding good practice, researching how other organisations do things and analysing how our clients do things, we identify issues and opportunities for improvement, then help introduce and bed in better systems and processes.
Most of the time, the work we do is quite orthodox.
How we do it
We examine business processes, look for weaknesses or inefficiencies and contextualise our findings with industry best practice. Through this work, we engage with multiple roles within our client’s business, including executives and process owners, software developers, product managers and more. We use approaches and methodologies – including Agile and Scrum – and various tools which help structure and support the work we do.
In other instances, we get involved in exciting, challenging and quite unusual areas of work (the stuff that really gets the blood pumping). For example, we delivered a Business Analyst Capability Uplift for a major New Zealand city council, sharing our knowledge and frameworks to improve the competency and capability of the organisation’s business analysis community. And, at engineering design consultancy WSP NZ, we delivered a key piece of work which has de-risked its ability to get new projects on board.
Because we engage with processes, as BAs we quite often start out at a relatively lower level within the organisation (at the coal face, so to speak) – and yes, you will find yourself in some crazy and unusual places, such as the intimate workings of manufacturing plants). However, it often happens that we soon shift the engagement upstairs, all the way to CEO level. This reflects the value that good business analysis adds – we tend to go in when things aren’t working very well and if you’re able to cut through the clutter and demonstrate gains, it quickly gets the attention of the boss.
Remember though, that as the BA you’re not the decision maker – you provide decision support.
How to get to be a BA
If that sounds enticing, it’s worth knowing the qualities and qualifications we seek in candidates. While there are formal qualifications including the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) from the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA), this isn’t a necessity. In fact, we often don’t look for specific qualifications at all.
Instead, candidates should have a background in analysis work. You should be resilient and adaptable (because there are almost always conflicting requirements, views and solutions to BA problems), be driven and action oriented. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential, as is an ability to infer beyond what’s being said and understand what isn’t. A good BA engages in a challenging way, while rapidly building relationships of trust. And you can’t take pushback personally!
In addition to a dynamic and challenging work environment, BAs can look forward to diverse opportunities for career progression. The spaces and places where we work and add value are themselves enormously diverse with multiple specialties. The exposure you’ll enjoy in industries of all kinds – many of which you wouldn’t otherwise have encountered – means sooner or later, you’ll find one which sparks your passion. When that happens, you can branch off in that direction, whether in governance, data, transformation, the product space, design, test, project management or more.
What you can also be sure of is that because BAs add diverse value to our customers, we’re always in demand. Business is dynamic and constantly evolves. That means our role, which itself evolves, is always relevant. It’s an exciting field with a veritable universe of opportunities and options – and if that sounds good, we’d love to hear from you.
Email us to discuss how you can be part of a growing team and be involved in interesting projects!