How to Expand Your BA Experience Even if You Aren’t a Business Analyst

Our grocer recently introduced pasture-fresh eggs from a local farm and I’ve been eating a lot of eggs lately. Fresher eggs than I’ve ever had on a regular basis in my life. The kind you’d get from the place down the road, if that place down the road ever had eggs when you stopped in!

As I’ve been thinking about eggs, it got me revisiting the chicken-and-egg scenario for aspiring BAs. You know the dilemma: I can’t get a BA job without experience but I can’t get experience without a BA job.

So, what comes first the business analyst or the business analysis experience?

My answer: They both happen at once.

Let me explain. Being a business analyst is 80% mindset. It’s more about how you approach a problem or an opportunity than what your title is or even what responsibilities you have at work.

This reality empowers you because while you can’t control what your boss asks you to do or what your job title is, you can control your mindset.

  • When your boss asks you to add a new field to the database, do you take the time to understand what business process requires this?
  • When a customer calls to complain that your product “doesn’t work,” do you look at things from their perspective and how the tool you support works within their process (i.e. using a few elicitation techniques) or do you rattle off product specifications and claim the product works “as designed.”
  • When a co-worker complains about the input they receive from your department, do you put up a wall of defense or jump in and discover how the hand-off works between your respective departments?

(By the way, if you are looking for more helping stepping through this process of looking at problems, building a BA mindset, and even racking up some valuable business analysis experience along the way, the virtual courses in our professional development series are designed to help you apply BA techniques whether or not you are employed as a BA.)

By focusing on the business process and the root cause of the problem, you can be a self-proclaimed business analyst doing business analysis work before anyone ever anoints you with the business analyst job title. By reframing the opportunities right in front of you, you can cultivate the mindset of a business analyst and at the same time build a business analyst work experience worthy of adding to your resume or chatting with your boss about come performance review time.

It’s time to break the egg.

>>Looking for More Opportunities?

Here are some articles to help you cultivate your business analyst mindset:

53 Tips for Discovering All the Requirements

How to Expand the Work History Section of Your Resume

5 Processes Worth Mapping

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Comments

  1. Laura this is perfect!
    The same can be done for someone asking for help – its the mindset you use in approaching the opportunity / problem / request.

    I had a co-worker in HR ask me for project management help, something to the effect of “Project Management for Dummies” was the actual request. Instead of just telling them to seek out the book of the same title, I asked a few questions to understand what he was dealing with and what they thought they were looking for.

    While some of what was needed was in the PM realm, there were other analysis tools that could also be of benefit. Since I took the time to understand the true need (beyond just accepting the problem description at face value), I provided additional value add that has produced results beyond just time management tracking.

    If I was looking for materials to add to my resume, I would have checked in to see what kind of measures were currently being used (the baseline) and follow up to see what impacts my help had (the measured benefit). Its putting a little extra effort into an opportunity and documenting it to show how you have helped.

    Cheers,
    Steve

  2. Oyadiran Onaopemipo says:

    Hi laura,

    Thanks so much for this post…..

    I am a business Intelligence solution developer and i have been interested in Business Analysis in a while….I am sure i will get the right answers to my questions in this blog or topic.

    • You are welcome Oyadiran, I would imagine that as a BI solution developer you sometimes get deep into the business process or business information model and have the opportunity to do some analysis as well. Would be a great opportunity to cultivate a BA mindset as discussed here. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  3. Srikanth says:

    Laura – I’m amazed by your way of thinking and co-relating of different scenario.. AMAZING !

  4. Rohit Thadhani says:

    Hi Laura,
    This is amazing! I knew that I was heading towards the right direction but keeping this mindset gives me further confidence in Bridging the gap.
    Who cares what came first the “chicken” or the “egg” , they are both being taken care of simultaneously.

  5. Srikanth and Rohit, Thank you both and I wish you all the best in breaking the egg with your business analysis mindset!

  6. Laura, I think it would be a great idea to have a survey here at BTG about this topic: what types of experiences acquired using a “BA mindset” actually helped someone get a BA job?

    For example, I used my experience as an auditor (which required me to document process flows, recommend process improvements, etc.) to get my first BA job. I doubt that talking about how I’m constantly thinking of ways to streamline processes (at the grocery store, hotels, airports etc.), would have helped convince that particular hiring manager that I was a good candidate. However, others may have different experiences to share.

    It would be interesting to have some statistics around this topic, hearing from readers who were able to leverage professional and personal experience you mention here and in previous articles (http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/the-ba-mindset-of-a-new-parent/, http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/how-to-use-your-customer-service-skills-to-land-a-business-analyst-job/) to land their first BA job (with or without the title).

    • Adriana,

      A survey is a great idea! And I think you nailed it when you wrote:

      “what types of experiences acquired using a “BA mindset” actually helped someone get a BA job?”

      The mindset really leads to tangible work experiences. At least, that was true for me. I took on a new role in QA and defined a new process. For me, the mindset directly led to the opportunity to create process flows (or in this case, procedure documentation).

      It sounds to me like you also applied your process mindset in a work setting, the tangible result of which was process flows and recommended process improvements. Do you also think one led to the other? Or, was it the reverse in your case? (The opportunity to document process flows leading to the development of a process mindset.)

  7. Hi Laura,
    I work at the airport as an airline staff, but I would like to know the major roles a BA can play in an oil and gas industry, I just applied for a BA position in an oil and gas company. I have not worked in an oil industry before. Do you think l have a chance of getting the job? I am realy interested in BA as a career. How can you guide me in getting this job?

    Ijeoma.

  8. Hi Laura,

    Many thanks for sharing your experience. Honestly speaking, I was so much confused till now as this was the exact scenario for me.

    Basically I am an insurance professional with 9 years of experience in insurance domain. Since I have managed multi disciplinary roles within my career,my inclination have always been towards becoming a good business analyst.I migrated to Australia (from India) in Sep 2010 and currently working with Health Insurance domain.

    My apolgies for sharing my experience in length but the reason to share is only that I have been struggling to learn “What is the first step ever for me to enter into the BA industry” ? Since not being core IT professional, do I need to study some BA related courses ? Your website has given me such a great insight. But honestly, I am still looking for the first step ever to get entry into the business analysis industry !!! :)

    Thanks again.

    Kind Regards,
    Riddhi Vachharajani