Starting a New Business Analyst Job – 5 Things to Do First

When you are starting a new business analyst job, it’s an exciting time, but it can also be nerve-racking. Will you be expected to hit the ground running, and if so, what does that mean?

  • If you are learning the role from scratch, how do you make sure that you are the best BA you can be and build up your confidence?
  • How do you hone your skills to the maximum, to make sure you keep the job or turn what might be a temporary role into a permanent position?
  • Or, simply put, how do you establish a solid foundation from the get-go?

Getting a solid start as a business analyst is what we’re talking about in this video.

(By the way, if you are looking to fill your BA toolbox with the key skills to launch your business analyst career, be sure to check out The Business Analyst Blueprint®.)

Without further ado…

For those who like to read instead of watch, here’s the full text of the video:

We’re in an exciting space right now in business analysis and we’ve been getting lots and lots of emails from people who have just started their first or next business analyst job. We wanted to record a video to talk about what do you do first when you’re starting a new role as a business analyst.

So, let’s jump right in. There are five things that I think you want to be thinking about when you’re starting a new role. Some of these might not actually be what you would maybe expect.

#1 – New Business Analyst Job: Understand the Role

The first thing is you want to understand the business analyst role that your employer wants filled. It’s easy for us as business analysts to have some sort of expectations or assumptions about what our roles should be, and for that to really conflict with what is really important to your hiring manager, or project manager, or the person that you’re reporting to.

You want to make sure that, first and foremost, you understand what they most need you to be successful at. What’s the biggest problem that they hired you to solve, and how can you make an impact quickly? So, make sure that you understand that and allow yourself to be flexible at first if you need to be, even if it doesn’t meet quite the expectation you had as a business analyst.

#2 – New Business Analyst Job: Understand the Processes and Templates

The second thing is to understand the core processes and templates in place in your organization. You want to know if there’s a specific kind of document that is being created.

  • Do you create business process flows and use cases, or do you create more traditional business requirements documents, or do you, maybe, even create agile user stories and a product backlog?
  • What are the templates and processes in place in the organization, and how does business analysis, or whatever that flavor of business analysis you’re doing, how does that typically work?

That’s going to, again, help you get started off on the right track.

In a few cases, you might be the first business analyst. It’s up to you to figure that out. In which case, start with some industry standard practices and bring those to your organization. And our Business Analyst Template Toolkit is a great starting resource if your organization doesn’t have any existing templates to use.

#3 – New Business Analyst Job – Step 3: Get To Know Your Stakeholders

The next thing, we’ve talked about understanding your role, and those core processes and templates in place. The third thing to do is get to know your stakeholders.

You want to be looking for stakeholders both on the business side and the technology side. You want to get to know the business domain, the business process, how the business looks at technology, and what is important to all levels of the business. From end users all the way up to hiring managers, managers, directors, some cases even VPs who are the sponsor of a project. In a small organization, you might be working directly with the CEO, who’s the sponsor of a project. Stakeholders, meaning all levels of stakeholders.

And, those on the technology side. Who are your lead contacts that can help you understand the technology stack that’s in place, what’s already implemented, what’s the potential opportunities provided by those tools so that you can make sure you’re helping the business leverage the technology in the best possible way.

New Business Analyst Job: Make an Immediate Positive Impact

With those three things in place, or even as you’re getting those three things in place, you want to be focused on the fourth thing, which is making an immediate positive impact. Whatever that role is, whatever that first project is, how can you, essentially, hit the ground running and make a big important impact?

This can be frustrating because sometimes you might be hired in the middle of a project and you’ll be picking up somebody else’s requirements documentation and trying to answer questions around it. You might even come in a lot later in the project and be asked to start with the testing, the user acceptance testing with the business, or even just testing yourself against things that you didn’t write the requirements for.

Sometimes you really do just have to jump into where the organization is with that project and make an impact. That’s how you’re going to prove your value. You’re going to prove your skill set, you’re going to earn your reputation in that organization. That’s going to pave the way for all kinds of career opportunities to come forward.

If you don’t make the impact first, it can be hard to create the exact role that you want to have created. Make sure that whatever that first project is, that you’re making that investment in making it a positive impact and being successful in the context of how your organization defines success.

New Business Analyst Job: Start Bringing In “Best Practices”

Then, that’s step 5, with that clear win under your belt, with that sense of reputation, and trust that you’ve built with those stakeholders and that you do what you say you’re going to do in that you can really have an impact on their team. Then you can start bringing in “best practices.” If you see a gap in the business analysis process, maybe your team jumps right in and focuses on the functional requirements and you know that you can do a much better job if you started and focused on some of the business process and workflow diagrams, and things like that.

Maybe there are certain stakeholder groups that aren’t involved at all and you can get involved in bringing them in and expanding who’s communicated with around a technology project or a business process improvement effort.

Whatever that best practice is that you see having an impact in your organization, after your first win is the time to take that first step forward and say, “Okay, I see how things went this time. One of the biggest challenges we had with this project was…(whatever it was). This is what I’m going to do next time to help improve that.” So, you’re continually bringing those best practices. You can rinse and repeat that again, and again, as you form a business analyst role in a specific organization.

But it all starts with those first four steps – understanding the role, understanding the templates and processes in place, earning the trust and respect of those stakeholders, and creating that first win. Then you can continue to evolve and bring in more best practices and evolve the role of the organization.

I would love to hear from you if you have started a role recently, or if you’re one of our veterans that has a ton of experience as well. What have you found to be the best things to do when you get started in any organization? Any tips or crazy stories that maybe would help somebody else, please go ahead and leave those below.

Learn More About Starting a New Business Analyst Job

Also, be sure to check out our 4-part series on getting started in a new business analyst job and making the most of your opportunity.

Click the links below to read each article in the series.

#1 – What To Expect On Your First Day

#2 – How to Prepare For Your First Day

#3 – How to Make the Most of Your First Week

#4 – Your First 60 Days

I’d recommend checking out all of the articles as there is something different covered in each one.

Good luck to you. We’re rooting for you and we’ll be here when you need us!

About The Business Analyst Blueprint®

When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll learn all 12 of the industry-standard techniques and the business analysis process framework – to build your confidence in the best practices of business analysis.

You’ll create validated work samples and be a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).

>> Click here for more information about The Blueprint <<


4 thoughts on “Starting a New Business Analyst Job – 5 Things to Do First”

  1. Jeffrey Minello

    Hello Laura,
    I enjoyed listing to your 5 steps when starting a new role as a BA. Hearing this helped me get a clearer picture of expectations in a specialized BA position that I will be starting next week.
    Am considering taking the self-study version of the BA Essentials Master Class to help me make a positive first impression in my new role. Though I feel I have the prior work experience and skill sets to be a successful BA, I am coming into this position with no initial experience working a BA projects.

  2. Theo Kokkoris

    After watched your video with the 5 steps of starting a business analyst job I am wondering :
    is the business analyst main job on hiring people or is it on examining the hole company and propose actions and remedies on problems that are found during the analysis regarding the overall business ?
    Thank you

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