Being asked to craft a set of performance goals for your business analyst job? Not quite sure what you should focus on or how to balance your commitment to your organization with your commitment to your own career advancement?
Having clear career goals is critical to achieving success. In what follows, we’ll discuss some of the more common types of professional development goals set by business analysts and how they can help you move your career forward.
(By the way, if you are new here, I’d like to be sure you know that we offer a free BA career planning course to help you dig deeper into these ideas.)
Goal #1 – Broaden Your Skills by Using New Techniques
Your experience broadens as you use more techniques. Even if you are working on projects in the same domain, working with the same stakeholders, and using the same methodology, new techniques can help explore the requirements in a new way. And over time, you’ll expand your business analysis skill set.
Consider the following specific goals for your performance plan:
- Use a new elicitation technique to discover or validate the requirements.
- Experiment with a new visual model to clarify a complex concept.
- Consider a new type of requirements document to address a currently unmet need, such as a business process model, scope statement, or use case.
Participants in The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program learn and apply techniques in business process analysis, use cases and wireframes, data modeling, as well as the end-to-end business analysis process while also earning their Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).
While you can broaden your BA skill set even while working in a consistent BA role, changing things up just about forces you to use or improve your skills. So let’s look at a few ways to change things up.
Goal #2 – Work in a New Domain
Your business analysis skills become more valuable as you learn to work with new stakeholders and gain a broader exposure to new domains. Doing the same type of work, but in a new context, forces you to take your skills to the next level.
For one of your performance goals, look for an assignment in a new business unit, department, or business domain.
Goal #3 – Work in a New Methodology
Working on different types of projects exposes us to new methodologies and types of requirements specifications. It also challenges you to discover the core business analysis principles that are relevant, regardless of what type of project work you are working on.
As a professional development goal, ask to be assigned to project work on a team that uses a different project methodology or tool set to broaden your experience.
Goal #4 – Improve Your BA Process
With exposure to different projects, stakeholders, domains, and methodologies, you learn what works well and what doesn’t work so well. Often your BA process stays the same, even while your work changes and matures. Look for ways to incorporate what you’ve learned into your organization’s BA process so other BAs can benefit from your insights.
Goal #5 – Strengthen Stakeholder Relationships
When we have stronger relationships with our stakeholders, it’s easier to get more work done. Yet, if we’ve worked in the same organization for awhile, it’s easy to become complacent and rely on existing relationships to get work done.
Set a goal to strengthen your relationship with a stakeholder, improve a troublesome relationship you’ve let linger this year, or form a new relationship with a stakeholder assigned to upcoming projects. Often simple techniques, such as letting your stakeholders know you heard them, can make significant improvements in relationships.
Goal #6 – Mentor Other BAs
Your ability to lead others will help you move into more senior BA roles. Become a mentor to a newly hired business analyst, a professional that’s interested in business analysis, or another member of your department.
You don’t have to be the expert in all areas of business analysis to mentor someone in an area of business analysis. For example:
- If you have a technical background, but your fellow BAs are from the business side, offer to perform a technical review of a requirements document or answer questions about technical terminology.
- If you are from the business side, share your subject matter expertise with a fellow BA who comes from outside your domain and offer to provide process overviews as they get up-to-speed on a new project.
- If you learn a new BA technique or are really good at a particular kind of visual model, offer to share your knowledge and conduct a peer review for other BAs in your department.
As you share what you know, you’ll be building your reputation as a leader and a team player, which can lead to positive outcomes for your BA career. You might also consider sharing your knowledge in a more formal way, so let’s talk about that next.
Goal #7 – Share Your BA Knowledge
Sharing your knowledge will not only demonstrate your leadership skills but could eventually lead to a larger role for you within your BA team.
Consider starting a ‘lunch and learn’ with your fellow BAs. This doesn’t have to require a lot of time if you use available resources to structure these sessions. For example, one of our readers hosted monthly meetings to discuss these 53 tips for discovering all the requirements and share best practices.
Goal #8 – Take on Non-BA Responsibilities
If you’d eventually like to move out of business analysis or up into a BA leadership role, it’s important to diversify your work experience and build skills that are not formally part of the business analysis toolkit. You can do this by looking for new responsibilities outside your current work. Ripe options include project management, technical architecture, business process analysis, or product ownership.
Goal #9 – Take On More Senior BA Responsibilities
On the other hand, if you’d like to stay within business analysis for the foreseeable future, consider looking at how you can take on new senior business analyst responsibilities. Pay the most attention to areas where you can increase the value BAs add to projects or solve current issues that are holding your organization back.
Goal #10 – Get Involved
The business analysis profession is a thriving and open community that welcomes professionals from all kinds of career backgrounds, industries, and career levels. It’s never too early to get involved. Check for a local IIBA Chapter meeting to attend (most allow non-members to attend for a nominal fee) or get involved virtually.
One Rule of Thumb When Goal Setting
One of the most common goal setting mistakes I see is that an individual’s performance goals focus solely on new initiatives and extra work. The vast majority of your time will be invested in your assigned projects or day-to-day work. Instead of looking at performance goals as things to do that are above and beyond work as normal, look at how you can transform the work you are doing anyway into a professional development opportunity.
>>How to Learn the Foundational Business Analyst Skills (And Build Your Body of Formal Work Samples)
When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll gain real-world experience in the industry-standard techniques and business analysis processes. You’ll create work samples vetted by experienced instructors and have the opportunity to become a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).