Hi, I’m Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the Gap, and we provide online training and certification programs for business analysts who are looking to start and succeed in their business analyst careers.
If you are thinking of starting a career in business analysis, you are probably wondering what is a typical day like? What can you expect to be experiencing on a day-to-day basis inside a role like this?
While there is no typical day for a business analyst (that’s one of the things many of us like about the role is there’s a lot of variety in the work), there are some definite patterns and different types of days, and different expectations of what you can experience on a day-to-day basis.
I share a sample workday in my book, How to Start a Business Analyst Career. It is available on Amazon. If you are thinking of starting a business analyst career, this is a great way to learn more about the profession and plan out your entire career transition. But for now, let’s talk about the typical types of activities that business analysts do.
The Typical Day of a Business Analyst – Activities
One of the most common activities that we do is requirements meetings. This would be with both business stakeholders to discover and validate the requirements, and with technical stakeholders to validate that the requirements are feasible and implementable, to discuss issues, and to understand how the technology can support what the business wants and what problem is actually trying to be solved. You will find yourself in a variety of different meetings depending on the phase of the project, often, on a daily basis as a BA.
You will also spend time, independently, working on your requirements documentation and your visual models. Things like scope statements, business process models, functional requirements specifications, data models, glossaries, use cases, wireframes, whatever the methodology is in your specific organization along with the tools that you bring, the best practices that you bring to business analysis.
You’re going to spend time independently at your desk working through, thinking through the requirements compiling the information that you’ve gathered in your various meetings, and putting it into a structured format that then you could review and validate, again, in a meeting with a stakeholder.
The Typical Day of a Business Analyst – Meetings Versus Independent Work
One of the questions we often get is, “How much time am I out in meetings vs. working independently?” Of course, these days, for virtual work-from-home time, all of it’s at your computer, or most of it is at your computer if you are working from home. But we do see about 1/3 of a BA role where you’re interacting with people in some sort of a meeting environment, and 2/3 working independently.
Depending on your role and the degree of stakeholder interaction, that could switch to more of a 50/50 split, but it’s probably not going to go much beyond that because you need time to be really in that independent work doing your thinking process and thinking through the requirements. Not to exclude the time actually out with stakeholders discovering what they want in collaborating. It’s both a collaborative and an independent role.
Some of the other things that you will do is prepare for meetings – running an effective working meeting or a workshop takes some planning effort. You would create draft deliverables, put an agenda together, and maybe meet with some key individuals ahead of time if it’s a really significant longer workshop to make sure they’re prepared in terms of what they need to bring to that meeting to be effective as well.
You could spend some time resolving issues – issues with the requirements or issues that surface during implementation or issues that are keeping you from finalizing requirements. You will spend a fair amount of time planning as well, so planning your projects, planning your time, planning your day, planning your week. You need to expect to be intentional about your day and your time and be planning ahead.
The Typical Day of a Business Analyst – This is a Self-Managing Role
Typically, it’s a very self-managing role. You’re going to be spending time planning ahead to make sure that you have things done when they need to be done. No one’s going to be micromanaging that for you. While, also, leaving space for the unexpected because unexpected things do come up that you need to deal with, especially if you’re in an organization that has some aggressive timelines.
You might spend some time, also, estimating for your team for upcoming projects for stories, for features.
Also, sometimes learning new skills, whether those are techniques within business analysis and best practices for your craft as a business analyst, or domains like a specific industry or functional domain, or a business application, how to use the tool that is in place in your organization that your business users are using so that you can be more efficient in terms of analyzing the requirements.
In addition to the working meetings that we talked about before, you’ll spend a fair amount of time, as well, engaging with stakeholders. Collaboration is key. The best BAs set aside time each week to have lunch with a stakeholder or reach out and have an informal chat with someone in the organization may reach up and meet with their manager, or their manager’s manager; have a skip level meeting to be getting a better bigger picture of you, of what’s going on in the organization.
Connection is really key as well.
The Typical Day of a Business Analyst – Different Phases of Projects
Now, one last thing I wanted to talk about was the different phases of projects and how that can shift your workday as a business analyst.
All of those activities that we talked about are different things that you can be doing from week to week. But depending on what phase your project is in, you could be experiencing them in a different way.
The three key phases we’ll talk about are Initiation, and the detail or elaboration phase, and then when that project is in implementation mode.
In that initiation phase, when you’re getting the project off the ground, you’re gaining alignment on the business objectives and the project scope. You might feel overwhelmed with new information at that stage. These are steps 1-4 of what we cover in the business analyst process framework. We teach that in more detail at Bridging the Gap in our BA Essentials Master Class.
You can also learn more via the Quick Start to Success workshop.
Steps 1-4 – Getting oriented, discovering the business objectives, finding the scope, and doing the plan. That’s the initiation.
It could feel overwhelming. You’re trying to get a lot of people on the same page who are maybe a little bit all over the place and have their own agendas. You’re consuming this information. You’re drawing it in and you’re taking a very ambiguous set of information and trying to create clarity and action out of it. A “Go Forward” concept for how we will move forward in a touchstone; some clarity around that.
Once you get into the more detailed or elaboration phase, which is Step 5 in our business analysis process framework, you’re going to be in more of a predictable pace, usually. You’ll be discovering. You’ll still be doing discovery but at a more detailed level. You’ll do your analysis and then you’ll go back and validate that work with your stakeholders, and you’ll be iteratively figuring things out. Iteratively getting into more and more of the detail that you need to ensure that the software development team has what they need to design and implement the solution.
There can still be issues that come up or things that create overwhelm, but it’s a lot more predictable and it’s a lot more contained in terms of the information that you’re discovering at that phase.
During implementation, you end up in more of a support role. You might be off with your primary focus on another project at that point, but still need to be available if the development team has questions or the testers want you to review their test cases, or the business team needs support in terms of implementing the new solution.
You also can be just managing changes and issues that tend to surface during implementation. By no means is your work done at that point.
The Typical Day of a Business Analyst – In an Agile Environment
Now, in an agile environment as a business analyst, you might be in all of these phases at the same time which can be a little overwhelming, especially when you’re first making that change to having some features in that initial phase, some features that you’re detailing, and some in implementation. You have parts of your work in each of these phases and you might be switching gears between those phases on a day-to-day basis, or even on an hour-by-hour basis. It can be a lot of variety in that case and really planning your time is key in that kind of environment.
You can also be in organizations where you don’t just have one project. It’s relatively rare to have just one project at a time. You might have three projects. I know BAs that have had 10 projects or they handle a bunch of little projects where, again, that are kind of in different times. You might have different parts of your work in different phases.
What Do You Want YOUR Day To Look Like?
That’s just an overview of what you can expect. People who are great at business analysis tend to like the variety that no day is really the same, that they get to be intentional about their time and be pushing things forward in an intentional and purposeful way.
>> Start YOUR Path to Success
If business analysis is a career that you want to pursue, the absolute best next thing to do is to join my free Quick Start to Success Workshop. In that workshop, you will learn more about the business analyst career path as well as details about the business analysis process framework that will give you the structure that you need to manage your day and your projects appropriately.
Again, if business analysis is right for you, we are here to help you at Bridging the Gap. We provide online training and certification to business analysts who are looking to start and succeed in their business analyst careers.
For now, just remember that we build our profession one business analyst at a time. Success starts with you.
Thanks for being here.