Supporting business analysts through competency development: Interview with Dave Schrenk, CBAP

Dave Schrenk, CBAP has been a business analyst for over 10 years and currently holds the amazing title of Business Analyst Competency Development Consultant for Erie Insurance Group. Dave was kind enough to share his story about what he does, how he landed in such a unique position, and how the CBAP has played a role in his professional development.

Laura:  What all is involved in the BA Competency Development Consultant role?

Dave:  There are seven main tracks related to my role with various and specific efforts associated with each.  They are:

  1. BA mentoring and coaching. I act as a resource that they can come to when they run into a roadblock or issue related to their BA efforts
  2. BA research and investigation. I investigate BA best practices and tools. I publish a regular “BA Items of Interest” email with links to online articles, blogs, or discussions that provide insight into the BA role and its best practices. I research the need and the potential solutions for requirements management and requirements definition tools.
  3. I create “development paths” for BAs that give them a guideline on things they can or must do to advance their BA career. I review and update their job descriptions as needed.
  4. I research, coordinate, and / or prepare BA training solutions.
  5. I am standing up and supporting a BA community of practice by preparing and conducting bi-monthly forums. In the future, I am hoping to deploy an internal online discussion board that we can use to talk about BA items and issues.
  6. I am involved with recruiting and interviewing BA new hires or contract labor candidates (although there haven’t been any lately).
  7. I help improve the odds of project success by providing guidance to the BAs related to the approaches, tools, and techniques that they should follow for a project and the types and extent of requirements documentation they should produce.  I also review requirements and other project artifacts for quality.

Laura: How did this role come to be?

Dave: Our organization has modified the IT organizational structure several times in the 25 years I’ve been here. Back before 2000, the BAs were part of the business side group and worked in a BA, PM, and QA role. Then they were moved into IT either into distinct BA or QA roles and reported to IT resource managers. Currently, the business analysts are assigned to project teams. My role was created by PMO management when they recognized that the current organizational structure did not have any built-in support for the business analysts and their role or development.

Laura: What are your top priorities right now for supporting business analysts?

Dave: Related to the above items, my top priorities have recently been clarified and they are to focus on requirements tools, training, the community of practice, and the mentoring and coaching activities. One of the long-term goals of my position is to increase the number of  certified business analysts in the organization.

Laura: What is the BA role like in your organization?

Dave: We have some business analysts with deep application focused knowledge around the business rules and process surrounding a specific system and others that can be dropped in on almost any project and be successful due to their soft skills in managing stakeholders and general BA skills. It’s a question right now as to which qualities the organization values most. Ideally, we continue to develop and reward both competencies. Bringing two business analysts with these separate skill sets together can create a successful project.

Laura: Why did you decide to pursue your CBAP?

Dave: Before I took on this new role, I had moved from business analysis to project management. The PM role was not a good fit and I considered myself lucky to move back to my former BA role.  This experience really motivated me to develop my business analyst competencies and, after a little research, I realized that pursuing the CBAP was the best option. I felt I owed it to myself and my company to become the best I could as a business analyst.

I originally paid my own application fee and funded travel to take the exam. My employer funded the training for the pre-requisite PDUs and paid the exam fee and agreed to reimburse some of my travel expense.

Laura: What benefits has the CBAP provided for you?

Dave: A lot of business analysts interview stakeholders and then move directly to writing a requirements document. They miss that middle part where analysis happens. As part of reading the BABOK, I learned about all the analysis tools that sit in the middle of elicitation and detailed requirements and have become a better business analyst.

My obvious dedication to the profession and the decision to invest in the CBAP also could have played a role in my promotion to Competency Consultant. As they are looking to increased the number of certified BAs, it makes sense to have a certified BA in this role.

Laura: Thank you, Dave, for your time today. I am sure other business analysts will be excited to read about such an interesting job role. Thanks for your time!

Dave: Thanks Laura, it was my pleasure!  Keep up the good work in promoting the BA profession and the value that we add!

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  1. Johnson, I am happy to hear you are enjoying the interview series here at Bridging the Gap. I cannot take credit for the answers — these answers represent what I heard from the real business analysts who were interviewed. I think we can learn so much from asking others relevant questions and giving them an opportunity to share their story. This is something I hope to continue via Bridging the Gap and, eventually, get others involved in as well.

  2. Johnson Uankhide says

    Hi Laura,
    Iam so impressed with this interview questions and response from you.

    It really shed light into areas that need clarification for me.

    More of this is expected from you.





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