Expanding Your BA Perspective with IIBA: Interview with Kym Byron, CBAP

The best business analysts are open-minded. They let you help them get better.

Kym Byron BA Team Lead CBAPEditor’s Note: Before the holidays I had the opportunity to sit down with fellow-IIBA-Denver board member, Kym Byron and talk about her role and her career advice for other BAs. It’s always amazing to me how you can collaborate with someone and not really understand what it is they do! I learned a lot about Kym, how business analysis is structured in her organization, her role as a business analyst team lead, how IIBA volunteering contributes to her professional development, and how companies are using IIBA and the CBAP as part of their sales and marketing strategy.

Enjoy!

Laura: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today Kym. Can you tell me a bit about your current role?

Kym: I am the team lead of a product specialist group, reporting to the VP of Product Development. There are 9 business analysts on my team. In our organization, the business analyst works hand-in-hand with a requirements analyst. The BA is responsible for requirements elicitation, client communication, requirements validation, maintaining a demo environment, and supporting the sales staff with detailed product knowledge.

The requirements analyst is responsible for all the requirements documentation. The BA often partners with a client-side BA on a project. For example, the client-side BA might do a gap analysis against their existing system and the BA on our team would support them with detailed information about our product and the conversion.

Laura: In your role as team lead, what contributions do you make?

Kym: I am both an individual contributor working on specific projects and the team lead. As team lead, I’ve implemented many new practices based on the BABOK. One of the key new practices was requirements reviews. Everyone participates in the review process, including myself. Work product across the group was inconsistent and taking the time to review requirements improves the consistency of our deliverables.

Laura: And you have your CBAP too, can you tell me about how that has helped you in this position?

Kym: I introduced the CBAP to my organization. We are a Microsoft shop and there was an existing company program offering incentives and bonuses for relevant certifications, including the PMP and various technical certifications. As a result of introducing the CBAP, I received a bonus.

My company uses IIBA and the CBAP as selling points to prospective clients. Since our product specialist group is a client-facing team involved in conversion and customization projects, they sell the fact that our business analysts are there to help you through your migration to the new system and are up-to-date on the latest professional standards.

Laura: What was it like preparing for the CBAP?

Kym: Well, I had been doing business analysis for 7 years and never had any formal requirements training. As I prepared for the CBAP I learned that I was mostly doing things right. I think there is a balance to be struck between learning from experience and learning through formal training. If you only learn from experience and don’t switch companies or learn how other organizations are doing things, you can have a very limited perspective on the business analyst role. Preparing for the CBAP helped broaden my perspective.

Laura: I think this is a great point, working within a single organization without exposure to what’s going on outside your organization can definitely build a myopic view of the BA role. I’ve found that participating in the Denver IIBA chapter has also expanded my view of business analysis. Do you have that same experience?

Kym: I definitely feel that volunteering for IIBA supports my career because it is a way to stay in tune with trends and what other business analysts are doing. I have a much broader view of the profession and have established solid relationships in the Denver area. I encourage members of my team to watch IIBA webinars and will encourage them to attend our local meetings in 2010.

Laura: In your opinion, what separates an OK BA from a great one?

Kym: The best business analysts are open-minded. They let you help them get better.

Laura: Yes, I’d agree. And the best business analysts are always seeking ways to become better too. I can see your doing that through your professional development and contributions to the profession. Thanks for your time today Kym! Any parting advice?

Kym: And thank you for the opportunity. As parting advice, I’d suggest that you don’t discount any opportunities that come your way, whether it be a project, or event, or an introduction to a person. You never know what will come of it.

For more ideas on professional networking as part of your career development, consider Professional Development for Business Analysts: How to Achieve Your Career Goals. In this book, we discuss the value of the CBAP, getting involved professionally, and a host of other “small steps” you can take to catapult your business analyst career.

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