Looking to Break Into Business Analysis

How do I switch my career from software development into business analysis?

I can’t find my path.

Set Your Goal and Stay Focused

Have you ever watched a child kick a soccer ball into the net for the very first time, or maybe even for a game-winning score?

If so, did you happen to watch that child’s eyes? Most likely, they were focused on that soccer goal.

Nothing could distract him from getting that ball into that net.

He had his eye on his goal, and took the steps to get the ball where it needed to go. Once you’ve already determined what your goal is, staying focused and keeping your eye on that goal, away from distractions, will get you there.

Your goal is to become a business analyst. Keep your goal in mind, and begin to go through the following exercise.

Define Your Goal

Once you’ve defined your goal as becoming a business analyst, the first thing to do is to make a list of all of the duties that a business analyst performs.

Since the exact role of what a business analyst does varies from organization to organization, you’ll want to concentrate on the skills which are generally accepted as universal. These include:

  1. verbal communication (All aspects of good verbal communications, including presentation skills)
  2. written communication (reports, note taking – need to have the ability to write in a clear and concise manner)
  3. Elicit requirements
  4. Conducting meetings
  5. facilitator
  6. negotiator
  7. scheduler
  8. interviewer
  9. investigator
  10. Analyze requirements
  11. problem solver
  12. analysis skills
  13. inter-personal communication skills
  14. Use Case knowledge and experience
  15. Unified Modeling Language
  16. UML knowledge
  17. Validate requirements
  18. ability to follow through
  19. perseverance
  20. instruction skills
  21. technical skills (knowledge of at least some coding and how the IT department functions)
  22. Basic software skills (such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and any company-specific tools)

Identify Your Strengths – What Do You Already Have?

Now, it’s time to look back at what you’ve already done in your career.

Look over all of your work experience, and make a list of all of your duties you have performed.

Then, compare it to the list of what a business analyst does.

For instance, as a software developer, you may already have strong Use Case skills which a business analyst also needs. Find other skills that you already have, and check them off of the list.

Identify Your Skills Gaps

When you look at your two lists, there will most likely be a skills gap.

Do not be alarmed if that gap appears to be large. This step is not the time to judge your skills in terms of what you should already know, or what you want to know; and it’s not intended to create discouragement.

This is just one step closer to achieving your goal. It’s important for you to make sure all of the skills you currently lack are listed, so you have an honest assessment of what you need to concentrate on.

But, there will also be a decent amount of skills you already know. For instance, with experience as a systems developer, you will probably be heavy on the technical skills, but possibly lack experience in conducting meetings.

Develop your Business Analysis Skills

This next step will be your most time consuming one of the exercise.

Unlike the little boy on the soccer field, who has to quickly assess a strategy to get the ball into the net while the opposing team is surrounding him, you can take your time.

You’ve already identified your goal, and now you’ve also pinpointed the skills you need to learn to get you there.

Once you’ve identified your skills gap, it’s time to focus on those skills and learn them.

Do this either by reading all you can on the topic, or by seeking coaching or training, or a combination of both self study and online training.

There are also a decent amount of blogs and sites dedicated solely to the business analyst career.

This self study, and foundational research will give you a knowledge of what will be expected of you as a business analyst.

When you combine your self study with an online training course, like the one found through Business Analyst boot Camp, you will end up with a well-rounded knowledge and hands-on skills needed to get you to your goal.

Update Your Resume and Score Your Goal

You’ve done the hard work of determining what is needed to meet your goal, and then attaining the skills to do so.

Now, the fun part kick the ball into the goal – Make your resume shine!

Update it to reflect all your newly-learned business analyst skills, and then begin to send it out. Soon you will find yourself in an interview.

And, then don’t be surprised if you, figuratively speaking, find yourself standing in a winner’s circle with your trophy for scoring the winning goal.

Prepare yourself and practice your interviewing skills as well. This way, you will be sure to stand out among the other applicants, and soon you will have your business analyst job.

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One Response to "Looking to Break Into Business Analysis"

  1. Business Analyst Coaching & Training   April 3, 2011 at 8:16 AM
    1. Identify the roles and responsibilities of business analysts.

      Since your goal is to be a business analysts, you may as well start by identifying or listing the tasks or duties performed by business analysts.

    2. Identify your transferable skills.

      Once you learn the duties, roles or responsibilities of business analysts, next identify the business analysis skills that you already have based on your work experience.

      For example, you may realize that business analysts need strong Use Case skills and that you have already started down that path at your current software developer job by being the one that writes the Use Cases for your software development projects.

    3. Identify the Skills Gap.

      You probably do not know have all the skills required for business analyst jobs.

      So, after identifying your transferable skills, next identify your skills gap.

      For example, you may realize based on your list of business analyst skills that you lack meeting facilitation skills because your current employer does not allow you to lead or facilitate meetings … so based on that you add that to the your list of missing skills or your skills gap.

    4. Develop your Business Analysis Skills

      Your next and perhaps most important task is to develop the missing business analysis skills.

      You may have to take some coaching or training or you may have to teach yourself those missing skills

      What matters is now how you gain those missing skills but that you gain them …

    After completing the exercise above, the last and final task that you have to perform is to update your resume and start taking business analysis interviews.

    Here are a couple of articles on the roles or responsibilities of business analysts and how to identify transferable, business analysis skills.


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