Let me share a story with you.
I started my first BA job by transitioning from a QA engineer role into a BA role. I had acquired deep system knowledge. I knew how the system was put together and how the developers designed solutions.
I didn’t know a lick about business analysis (well at least I thought I didn’t, but I later realized that I actually knew a lot about business analysis before getting into the role). And I learned quickly how to get the business perspective and create requirements specifications.
I loved to work through technical challenges and facilitate problem-solving sessions, and was mostly successful because I had an understanding of the conversations, the possibilities, and most of the trade-offs. I could facilitate because I knew the problem space just about as well as anyone else in the room.
>>> The take-away lesson: Strengths in system knowledge or industry expertise can help you navigate into your first business analyst position.
Then I moved all the way across the country and started doing BA work for a new product to integrate with a legacy system. I still believe this was the most complex, gnarliest system I’ve ever dealt with.
No longer did my system knowledge serve me. I had none.
I had to step back and think about why the heck I was a BA and what I brought to the table. It turned out that this was the best career move of my life. If I had stayed in my old company, I might never have learned to learn new systems, to be a BA with no system or industry knowledge, or to rest on my core competencies in elicitation, analysis, and communication.
And did I ever learn.
- I learned to facilitate discussions when I was the least knowledgeable person in the room.
- I learned to evaluate business requirements before functional ones.
- I learned to build systems from scratch.
- I learned to dissect complex legacy systems.
- I learned that so many technical concepts are very general (databases, scripts, processing, rendering, rule-based logic, etc.) and that it matters less what the code is written in and more on what it does and how it works.
Of course, along the way I had my share of missteps, oversights, and mistakes. But I was learning each and every day.
>>>The second take-away lesson: Be aware of what grounds your strengths. Put yourself in situations to help you grow your strengths into portable competencies.
I’ve never looked back from my decision to rest more on my competencies than my know how. Sure there are still positions that want a specific skill or a certain technical ability. I have no problem learning these things. But I know that none of this makes me a better business analyst generally, only helps me address specific problems in specific situations.
So, if you are currently a business analyst or if you want to be one, ask yourself:
- Where do you find your strengths?
- Could you be equally effective outside your comfort zone?
- Are you testing yourself and developing your competencies?
Expand Your BA Strengths
Check out our business analysis training courses to discover how we can help you grow your core business analysis skills and as you push the boundaries of your comfort zone.