7 things I wish I’d known when I started my BA career

One of the great things about the Business Analysis profession is that all of us have different backgrounds. I made a number of career moves before I became a BA, and I have never looked back (!)

I’ve been working as a BA for a fair few years now. However, it strikes me that when I started out, I had some rather naïve misconceptions over what the job would entail. I thought I would share these with you in this slightly light-hearted post. Did you find the same?

1. Not all business people understand the value of a BA: Strange, I know, but I was genuinely surprised to find that some business people don’t understand the BA role (or where it adds value). This was an extremely sharp learning curve, and I learned the importance of  reputation management and self promotion.

2. Business decisions are often made on emotion : It doesn’t matter how tentative the business case, in some organisations if a charismatic executive has a pet project, it might just fly.  As  a  Business Analyst, the challenge is to inform the decision making process and ensure that both logic and emotion are considered.

3. Good Project Managers like being challenged: Some BAs find PMs intimidating, but my experience is that good PMs are open to challenge. If a deadline is unrealistic, it’s better that they know in advance.

4. It’s OK to be unpopular: A controversial point, but BAs won’t always be popular with everyone! In my view, Integrity is much more important than popularity.

5. Stakeholder Analysis is more important than anyone admits: It’s absolutely essential that you know who to talk to, and when to engage them. Whether formal or informal, Stakeholder Management might just save your project.

6. Continuing Professional Development makes you stand out : Professional development gives you “the edge” and significantly increases your credibility. And it doesn’t have to be provided by an employer, it is something that can be sought out by an individual.

7. The concept of “The Business” as a single entity is misconceived: Any organisation is actually a group of stakeholders, and they may well have differing or conflicting views.

I’d be interested to hear your views. What do you wish you knew when you were just starting out?

This article was originally published by Adrian Reed on Pragnalysis.com, a site dedicated to Business Analysis in the real world, and more importantly, home to an entirely free requirements toolkit.

1 thought on “7 things I wish I’d known when I started my BA career”

  1. Adrian, these are some great points!

    Couldn’t agree more with 1,5,6 and 7!

    I want to add something more for point nr5; Its important to know who to talk to and when to engage them. The who part is easy to figure out, and needs to be done as soon as possible in a project life cycle; the ‘when’ part can be a little tricky, as some stakeholders dont fully understand the implications of a project. In order to solidify their timing, I have found its useful to make them understand the depth to which they would be effected.(more initial work on the BA, but with better pay-offs towards the end).

    The other critical element I feel is, “how”… different stakeholders need to be talked to differently(quite literally sometimes), because at the end of the day each stakeholder is a human, with a certain background based on how long they have worked in their role, and what is their opinion on the change that is coming(and of course their personality) 🙂

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