My past 25 years of work experience has been in the not-for-profit sector, in both program work as well as various IT roles. A part of this work that I have enjoyed very much is when I have had the opportunity to help the organization I was working for to improve its processes to better meet its goals. At times this has involved helping the organization select an appropriate software product, and working with consultants to customize the software to best meet the needs of the organization.
I would like to focus more on this type of work, and am even thinking of taking some formal training in business analysis, but I don’t know if business analysis principles and processes are suited to the not-for-profit sector. Initially I would hope to apply the skills I learn at my current organization, but I would also like to volunteer helping other not-for-profits, and maybe even some day earn a living by doing business analysis with not-for-profits.
Could you tell me if my aspirations are realistic? Are there any BAs out there who do this very thing? Are there any real opportunities available? Thanks.
Why yes! Yes there are. I can’t tell you strongly enough that you are doing exactly what you should be doing to advance your career. Offering your services to non-profits or small business that cannot afford to hire extra resources will help you work through your growing pains while providing valuable assistance to organizations that are typically desperate for help.
When I speak to working through growing pains, you will have to realize that you are highly likely to make mistakes in judgment and execution as you work on projects. This is absolutely normal and you should look at mistakes and even failures as learning opportunities. The really great thing is that you are able to work through these events without the pressure of getting fired, demoted or having your reputation tarnished. Due to this fact, your confidence grows as you try things again and finesse your techniques along the way. FINALLY, you are less likely to suffer the wrath of your boss due to a mistake, because you are volunteering. This is THE best way to learn a craft, but by combining it with your academic ventures, you are melding book knowledge with life experience and this will yield great results and rewards.
OK, so congratulations on your insight into the things that you need to do. To your comment about whether BA principles are applicable to not-for-profit organizations…..absolutely. Actually, BA principles are applicable in any environment in which there are problems to solve, not just in the business world. Sticking to business, though, ANY business in any industry employs resources in both human and material form, utilizes process to accomplish a task and has inputs and outputs to and from points in the process. Business analysts are skilled in viewing all these components, looking for efficiencies (and deficiencies) and recommending solutions that provide value. From a lemonade stand to a high-tech software company, the analysis is essentially the same at the core.
All the best to you. You’ve got a great start going. Let us know how you progress.