I have had the opportunity to be a developer before becoming a business analyst. Why do I say opportunity? Well in truth, the word was carefully picked. I can honestly say that I found out what not to do as a BA as opposed to what to be as a BA whilst I was a developer.
My gripe is how can business users and developers, who are both stakeholders for the BA in IT areas, respect BA as a profession when some BAs’ practices do not contribute to what the end goal of business analysis strives to achieve, which is to provide value.
I believe there are poor BAs and rich BAs. Rich BAs are not rich by chance; they work hard and may have development areas similar to the poor BA.
Below are five habits I immediately identified from poor BAs:
- BAs exhibit a just-take-notes mentality
- BAs should not probe the business person to explain why they are saying what they are saying because they are the experts
- BAs do not need to understand the business to be effective BAs
- BAs need to a develop a document template, because it must be good as someone must have thought up the structure
- BAs can stop learning about how to add value because they are senior BAs
Whilst you may think I am ranting and providing no positivity, I must say I become excited when I see a BA that does not think like the poor BA. They push boundaries for the conventional BA, and the value shines though in the form of happy stakeholders.
Below are five habits I immediately identified from rich BAs:
- They ask advice from all sources, not matter how junior or senior
- They use tools applicable to the problem they are trying to solve, and don’t just stick to standardized tools such as document templates
- They are naturally interested in the domain where they operate
- They probe business users to explain in fine detail if need be and identify anomalies
- They ask how they can improve and remain open to criticism
I probably know that the poor BAs won’t read this, so why am I writing this? Well I think everyone has the potential to change, and I think we should have an improvement mindset. Perhaps you work with someone you identify as being in the poor BA category; instead of complaining behind their back or saying, well I am a rich BA, we should be looking at the root cause and working with them to improve.
For example, if the poor BA is not questioning the businessperson and looking for anomalies, maybe they have a confidence issue. We should work with them to improve that and immediately value will be derived, not only for business but for that BA’s life too.
I need to learn from my own words too; I am not the perfect BA and I have a lot of areas in which to improve. But as they say, you have to know you can improve to do so.
Let’s work together to improve the BA profession.
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