New year intentions of a BA consultant

If you don’t intend to go anywhere, that’s exactly where you’ll get.  Continuing on my vision of helping organizations grow by leveraging information technologies, I’ve got a big year cut out for 2009.

Here are some my top professional goals related to building my business and making a solid contribution to the business analyst profession. There’s nothing particularly unique or special about these and I won’t be offended if you pick one up and take it as your own.  We all need intentions to ensure each year builds on the last.

1) Build my network.  And I’m not talking about playing the Linked In numbers game. I’ve archived more connections than I’ve approved in recent months not because the people looking to connect were not interesting people but because I do not know them…yet.  In 2009, my intention is to continue to expand upon my personal and professional network but also to invest time in really getting to know many people I’ve already met.  I started reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and I have found so many opportunities for self-improvement in how I interact with others. This intention means going to networking events (even when I’d prefer a quiet night at home), habitually reaching out to those I know for collaboration, learning, and ongoing communication, and finding ways to help others.

2) Build a methodology.  I’m not going to reinvent the wheel.  There are some great software development methodologies out there and I want to continue to leverage them.  But there is relatively little in terms of a methodology for being a great “bridger” or business analyst.  Most of the work out there focuses on the “what” of requirements and not the “how”.  I will explore how great BAs turn fuzzy intentions into concrete project requirements that deliver the expected business value.

3) Learn everything I can about the profession.  To my own dismay, I recently discovered that my most recent book on business analysis was more than 5 years old.  It’s still relevant, but a lot has been published about our profession.  I owe myself the opportunity to learn from others. I also will make the most of each project opportunity to learn something new.

4) Be balanced. I’ve often been the victim of my own focused mindset and in the long-run this will not help my clients nor grow my business.  I started creating a balance between professional growth and personal life in 2008 by way of a hard break.  In 2009, my intention is to explore ways to maintain a balance in a more even continuum.

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  1. I’ve been around the block a few times (meaning I’m a little bit (ok a lot) older than you).

    I too have seen new methodologies being a repeat. Some, unfortunately, eliminated things that actually are good from the old. Talking about your ideas in this blog will be a GREAT start. I know I will continually return and add my 2 cents or a challenging question.

    You and I have very similar expertise and desires to improve software by bridging the gap. I can tell you that it is sorely needed. Business is begging for it. Many geeks are still in the dark about it. Again, this blog is a great start.

    After you finish Dale Carnegie’s book, I would recommend my FAVORITE…The Little Gold Book of YES!Attitude by Jeffrey Gitomer. I bet that will only be one of the many books you will read of his. Both these books (Carniegie & Gitomer) will give you so many ideas on how to bridge the gap. This is where I’m heading this year. A continued journey from last year.

    I would be honored if I was not a number in LinkedIn but a valued colleague with the same mind.

  2. Art Weeast says

    You may not realize how intuitive (or brilliant) your 2009 plan is; however, it could use a few additives to round it out. Based on my recent experiences here is what I have learned.

    Two years ago I started a networking group to help a friend who suddenly found himself (along with 300 others) suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed. So I gathered six of my employed friends to help my unemployed friend explore his options. We decided to meet again, and again each month to keep the dialog going. After several months word had spread and I found I had 20 people attending. We don’t advertise the group meetings, and simply by word of mouth we average between 20-30 people each month. With over 100 people coming in and out of this group so fare, below are the most common regrets the UNEMPLOYED told us they wished they had done while they were EMPLOYED:

    1. Build (and Maintain) Your Network – this is perhaps the largest regret professionals voice when faced with unemployment. Everyone says they will, not many achieve this very well. There are limitless ways to network and it takes effort and creativity. Please note: LinkedIn is a TOOL, not the objective. Join professional associations or non-profits; don’t attend meetings and be a chair warmer. Volunteer, present, do something to make it a better experience for someone else.

    Here is something to ponder: if the potential employer receives 100 resumes and picks 5 candidates to interview, your chances are 5%. If 200 resumes come in, sorry, not good odds. Networking is more effective.

    2. Maintain Your Skills – when the unemployed start looking at job postings they realize how competitive the market is and see gaps in their experience. Now is not the time to read about or get trained in a skill; sorry, too late for that. What experience do you have with the new found skill? Can you afford to pay for it; feed the baby or get a new skill?

    Much easier to pay for (or have your employer pay for) training in an area that adds value to your profession. Many times these are soft skills, not another software package!

    3. Know Your Competition – this is another reason to use LinkedIn as a research tool. Using the Advanced search feature, look for people with similar titles (or groups) in your geographic area and across the country. How are they presenting themselves, what value-add are they presenting? Use (a great aggregator of job board and company postings) to see what people are looking for; are you in demand or are you outdated?

    4. Maintain Your Skills Inventory – have you listed out your skills and how they might bring value to a company? Is it updated, in a place you can easily find it? Do you have copies of previous performance reviews to construct or maintain this list? Oh! Too bad, wish I had thought of that, but I do have my resume from the last time (not quite the same I’m afraid).

    5. Add To Your Portfolio of Work – do you have samples of your work product (models, reports, presentation, etc. that have confidential or specific company information removed, something you can make generic? This is an excellent and proven way to demonstrate in an interview your comprehension and enthusiasm about the process or skill you are proficient in.

    Most people don’t have time to do all of these, or they appear to be too much work, and I can tell you it’s not much fun either. And work / life balance is very, very important. But in today’s economy not having a job for a year can destroy families much quicker. If you are concerned then involve your family in this process, otherwise carefully review your priorities and take time out to protect what you have.

  3. Thank you both for your comments and encouragement.

    Ron, I like your addition. I may just add it to my own intentions list. Thank you for being so bold.

    Jake, I too am starting to see a lot of “new” methodologies being a repeat of things I know or have heard before. My intent indeed is to focus in on an area where I feel I have a special expertise.

    Thanks again to you both.

  4. Smart recommendation to not develop a new methodology. I like it. I have been seeing too many new options of new spins on the same thing. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, maybe it is a duck!

    I think too often people are trying to spin something because they are unable to sell the basic value of what they are providing.

    – Jake Calabrese

  5. Great list! Very synergistic. You can learn a lot from others, including where their pain points lay and what is *not* worth spending time learning (half the battle is separating the wheat from the chaff).

    The last one is the hardest. One of my law school profs suggested “where ever you are, be there.” Living in the moment is surprisingly difficult, but ultimately rewarding.

    If I may be so bold, may I add one more to this list? Look for the simple path. I’m not suggesting that taking the easy way out is the right thing to do, but instead suggesting that finding the point of resonance between a problem and a solution, and not trying to solve problems that aren’t present or foreseeable.

    All the best in the new year,


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