I recently took part in the ‘Mastering Business Analysis’ podcast series, and I am pleased to say the recording is now available to download. Click here to visit site & podcast The Podcast episode is entitled “Strategy and its Role in Business Analysis”. In the Podcast, we discuss topics including: Why understanding organizational strategy is critical…
A common question that gets asked at BA events and forums is “How do I become a business analyst”. Often people wanting to enter the profession feel that they are stuck in a chicken-and-egg scenario: They want to get their ‘first’ BA role—but all the job adverts they can find ask for 3 (or 5 or 10) years of experience. It can be a frustrating dilemma—without experience, it’s difficult to get a role—and without a role it is difficult to get experience! In this article, we’ll explore seven tips for breaking this cycle.
1. Becoming vs discovering – maximise your current experience
A fundamental point to start on is that, when it comes to business analysis, one thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to be employed as a ‘business analyst’ to do business analysis. There are many people in organisations that undertake a sub-set of the business analysis role who have very different job titles. This leads to an interesting pattern—rather than consciously setting out to become business analysts, some people discover they are already undertaking business analysis!
This is an important subtlety. Often, those seeking a BA role for the first time actually have more BA experience than they are giving themselves credit for. Take the following examples:
I recently met with a good friend for a coffee and catch-up. We were discussing all sorts of business analysis related topics, and our conversation quickly moved on to projects, careers and jobs. As we started to discuss jobs and careers, I sensed unease in my friend’s voice. This was unusual—he is the kind of guy who is normally really up-beat. I asked what was wrong. He took a long sip on his coffee and his forehead contracted into a temporary frown. He took a deep breath:
“Adrian, I’m really not happy in my current job. I’ve made some suggestions on how they could run projects better, but management see this as ‘rocking the boat’. I’ve been sidelined. They’ve put me on a dull, boring, pointless project, which will deliver a pointless outcome. It’s a train-wreck. I am so bored. I think they’re hoping I’ll leave.”
This came as a complete shock to me. My friend is one of the most innovative and positive BAs I know. He’s the type of person that you can imagine fitting in just about anywhere, with the ability to quickly build rapport with stakeholders and really start delivering effective change. Clearly moving someone to the right place for the right reasons can benefit the individual and the company—but in this case it seemed to be a pure case of sidelining.
Why would anyone sideline him?
If you have worked for large corporate organisations for long enough, you’ll probably know someone who has been sidelined in this way. Someone who has been seen as too ‘radical’ for the status-quo—they raise positive ideas which could make a significant difference but challenge the tunnel-vision of established middle-managers. Rather than reward them, the organisation responds by moving them to another role, another team so they are less inconvenient. They never seem to fit, so they are moved around and around — after a while they get moved to a remote outpost somewhere, in the hope they will give up, keep quiet or leave. Maybe it has even happened to you.
This is an example of what I call getting quasi-sacked – or “quacked”