From QA to ServiceNow Business Analyst: Manuel Ninapaitan

It’s my honor today to introduce you to Manuel Ninapaitan, who transitioned from Quality Assurance into a ServiceNow Business Analyst role after participating in The Business Analyst Blueprint® in the spring of 2018.

In this interview, you’ll discover:

  • How important it was to decide he was a business analyst – which started with updating his job title in his email signature, and why he had the confidence to do this.
  • How Manuel transitioned into the ServiceNow space specifically.
  • What Manuel’s role is like as a ServiceNow Business Analyst on an agile software development team.
  • What being a business analyst means to Manuel, in terms of his day-to-day experience and fulfillment in his work.

 

For those who prefer to read, here’s the full-text transcript of the interview:

Laura Brandenburg: Hello, and welcome, everyone! I’m here today with Manuel Ninapaitan. Hi, Manuel. How are you?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Pretty good. Thank you.

Laura Brandenburg: Thank you so much for joining me today and being willing to share a bit about your story. We were just recalling you were a Blueprint participant back in 2018 in the Spring Session when we were interviewing. This is 2020, the beginning of the year. So about two years later.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Correct.

Laura Brandenburg: But can you kind of take us back to – and you’ve accomplished quite a few things since that time and I’m really excited to share your story with our community. Can you just take us back to where you were maybe in 2018 or late 2017, kind of where you were in your career and what you were looking for?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Well, prior to 2018, I was pretty much working as a QA Analyst/Tier 3 Tech Support technician. My intention was to eventually progress to a more BA minor position. This is the reason why I took these two courses – The Business Analyst Blueprint® and Business Process Analysis. Business Process Analysis was the first one I remember. The Blueprint came second.

Laura Brandenburg: Gotcha.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Progressing in the two courses, eventually, I got a chance to transition to a different project with my old manager. I would say February 2018 I had to replace somebody who was leaving the organization. So around that time is when I was done with the two courses and as I mentioned to you before is I’ve decided to embrace, that’s a term I like to use, I decided to embrace the role as a BA because before I was a little reluctant. Okay, should I do this? Should I present myself as a BA or not?

But at that point in my life, I said you know what, this is what I’m going to do. And believe it or not, it changed a lot of things in the way I started looking at my job and my duties. And believe it or not, if you believe this is what you are, you are a new BA, people will start looking at you differently too. People will start looking at you a different way. It was very interesting for me to have that before and after.

Laura Brandenburg: That’s amazing. It was like you deciding, “this is who I am.”

Manuel Ninapaitan: Exactly.

Laura Brandenburg: Did your title change or did anything change externally related to this, or was it really just that you were approaching your work from a BA mindset?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Not only I start approaching my work from a BA mindset, but again, I decided to change my email signature. So I removed part of my old signature; my old signature before. It was a Business Analyst/QA. I kept it like that and that carried me on through the entire project and it just felt different.

Laura Brandenburg: Your job title didn’t change, but you changed your signature.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Somehow my job title getting changed, per se, my signature changed but also the way I approach it, my tasks, my everyday task for the project it changed completely. So I wasn’t just…

Laura Brandenburg: Do you have an example of that where you were doing QA but you started to approach it as a business analyst?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Sure. Something that we used to have regular meetings with stakeholders for this project. It was just asking those questions, okay, what is it that you need? Not just what is it that you need, but at least, what is it that we can do to make this job more efficient? Because we are going for one particular version of software to a new one. In that sense, I wanted to know okay, how can we do this better for next time? How can we update the applications? You need to go to this guy. You need the section which is actually in charge of publishing official documentation for this organization to send it outside.

So this is how it started and then somehow we collect – they were able to tell me exactly what they wanted, what is it that we don’t need. Long story short, not only were we able to save some money but just produce the products they wanted. After that, it progressed towards the completion of the project. So everybody was…I would say they were satisfied we were able to deliver.

Almost at the end, before I left, I had a conversation with my manager saying, “You know what, I can see you have what it takes to be a BA.” It’s something he never mentioned before. All that contributed to where I am right now.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah. Did that open up an actual opportunity in that job or was it the next job where you were kind of officially doing business analysis?

Manuel Ninapaitan: I made some changes to my LinkedIn profile. I put my title as a BA. I updated my latest job description, what I was doing. Out of the many offers I had, this one came from a recruiter from this company who said, “We’ve seen your portfolio. You have this particular skill. Would you be interested?” That’s how it started. We had three job interviews. I landed the job that I have right now.

Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. What’s your title?

Manuel Ninapaitan: My title is ServiceNow Business Analyst.

Laura Brandenburg: Great. Did you have experience in ServiceNow before that?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Yes. I used ServiceNow very heavily before, sort of a fulfiller role for users. I knew the ins and outs of ServiceNow platform, so that helped me a lot, too.

Laura Brandenburg: That’s where we see a lot of times especially when people are moving into their first role. Leveraging and expertise like that. Maybe a power user end or industry…whatever that is can help you get that first official role, so to speak.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Exactly.

Laura Brandenburg: Tell us a little bit about your role.

Right now, what I’m working on is for big implementation for ServiceNow for this federal agency. All the federal organizations are grabbing ServiceNow as a platform where they can actually have a lot of components.

We are in the process right now of implementing piece by piece this…we just finished one sprint a couple of weeks ago. We have a new one now. We just went through a user story, finishing epics, and all that. It’s very interesting. Every day, something new is just an amazing opportunity to learn. It’s just one after another, one after another. Right now, working towards ServiceNow certification. Hopefully, it will happen in the next week or so. We’ll see.

It’s just amazing because on top of that is this team was looking for three BAs. They already had two. They didn’t want more because before all interactions with the stakeholders was primarily done with the developers. We’re bridging the gap right there.

Laura Brandenburg: How has your Blueprint coursework played into all of this?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Well, it kind of refined my attention to detail. The ability to ask the right questions to get information we need and to guide the stakeholders in a certain direction because they can suggest or request something, but we tell them, “How about if we approach it this way instead?” You still get the same response but we’re going to save you some time, some extra clicks, etc. You have to have the ability to convince the stakeholder, yeah, this is what we can do instead. They can say, “Yeah, sure, let’s work it out.”

Laura Brandenburg: Really understanding not just what they want but their business process and their business needs.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Not only business process, but the language they speak. Every organization has its own language and you get to learn what terms are best, what is it that they do, what are the acronyms and stuff like that. You understand what way to go.

Laura Brandenburg: You mentioned doing user stories, so functional requirements still a big piece of how we’re going to configure ServiceNow or do you do customizations to Service Now as part of the implementation?

Manuel Ninapaitan: The customization is done by the development team based on the stories we provide. In that sense, I’m getting better writing very concise stories. What is the shortest acceptance criteria and all that so when they’re looking at it, they say, oh, I see what they want to do? It’s very specific so with the other BAs working with me, they tell me, okay, we need to refine this part. This is fine. And so once the story’s good, we upload it to ServiceNow. There’s a section there for Service as well and that goes to the person; the person to work on that to have the first prototype and Sandbox, the UAT. If UAT passes, then it goes to production.

Laura Brandenburg: You’re helping define with that customization.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Pretty much the whole cycle.

Laura Brandenburg: And I would imagine the data modeling piece too, right? Do you have data migrations?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Yeah, they have data migrations, which is done at the developer site and then we have a UX person with the markups, with the wireframes so when we meet with somebody we can tell, okay, this is how it pretty much looks like, this is what you want, etc. It’s a very important piece as well. A lot of people like to see what it looks like or how it tends to look and feel. That also helps.

Laura Brandenburg: Not every BA team has a UX designer. Sometimes you’re doing that and sometimes you’re collaborating with them. So, it’s always interesting to hear how those roles change up.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Exactly. We had a UX person right there.

Laura Brandenburg: What do you like most about being a business analyst?

Manuel Ninapaitan: I think I don’t get bored. That’s the first thing I can tell you. There is something going on there some days and I’m, okay, you’re just burning up my gas. How can I do this? There are some challenging days. We have some challenging days; we have the stakeholders who sometimes we have to chase them until they get back to you. There are some requirements that are really tricky. But then there are some days when things are rolling through and, basically, it’s just I will constantly be on my toes and, as I said before, I don’t get bored. There’s something new going on.

Laura Brandenburg: What has that meant to you going from QA to business analysis?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Basically to expand horizons and things especially since I’m getting more interested in the ServiceNow platform. I want to retain my BA background but eventually progress towards a more advanced station in ServiceNow profession.

Laura Brandenburg: Like a consultant almost?

Manuel Ninapaitan: Eventually. We’ll see if that works out later. But right now my task is just absorbing as much knowledge as possible of ServiceNow from the administration side and later for implementation side and perhaps the development side as well. Because this is progress growth. It sounds like I’m pitching this program right now. It’s not that. But again, all that while keeping my BA background information, which I think is going to help a lot.

Laura Brandenburg: What would you recommend to people looking to follow in your footsteps who are kind of back where you are and if you were able, maybe, it sounds like you’re kind of ready for a change, maybe for something new. What would you recommend to them to do next?

Manuel Ninapaitan: If you see yourself as a person who likes to solve problems; if you’re somebody who is curious about, you’re always asking questions, probing questions in the role you have whether it is for QA or something similar, I would say you might be slowly, slowly inching towards a BA arena. Based on my experience, if you’re doubtful about seeing yourself as a BA, jump on it.

Just go for it and say, you know what, I am a BA now. Don’t wait for an official title. Don’t wait for an official role because chances are what you do is pretty much towards BA territory. If you feel like that, just embrace it and your mindset is going to change.

Laura Brandenburg: For you, if you hadn’t chosen to invest in a program, like The Business Analyst Blueprint®, where do you think you would be today?

Manuel Ninapaitan: I don’t know. I’d probably be still doing QA, which is not bad, but I needed something more. That was an investment that I decided to take for myself and take the risk, basically, and see how that works out. It doesn’t say an opportunity was knocking at my door, maybe and didn’t realize it in the beginning, but then you know what, I’ll go for it. I did that and I don’t regret it. I mean I’ll do that again.

Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. Anything else you’d like to share?

Manuel Ninapaitan: No. I just want to thank you for the opportunity that you gave us for taking these courses and just for really boosting our careers. Your guidance, your work, and your enthusiasm is really amazing. Believe me; you have done such amazing work in that sense.

Laura Brandenburg: Thank you so much for that. I love to be able to celebrate stories like yours because you made the investment. You chose to go. That mindset shift piece that you shared, that is just gold for anyone listening in. I’m glad you shared that a couple of separate times because it seems like it’s too good to be true, but I just get to change my mind. But it’s really how things happen, how change happens, and it’s the easiest thing to do and the hardest thing to do.

Manuel Ninapaitan: It is.

Laura Brandenburg: I just want to commend you for that.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Exactly. You have to just make a jump. You have to do it. There’s no other way.

Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that and I can’t wait to share this with the community.

Manuel Ninapaitan: Thank you very much, Laura. I appreciate your time.

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