What Are You Waiting For?

Author: Adriana Beal

What this article says about designers also applies to business analysts: don’t wait or ask for permission to showcase your potential.

Work Samples

Don’t wait to get hired to start building a work sample. If you are an aspiring BA, that will help provide evidence to prospect employees how good you are at documenting requirements. Choose an application you currently use (say, a project management tool, or wiki solution, or email client application) and start documenting the requirements as if it’s a future product your company wants to build. Once you are satisfied with your sample, put it in an interview folder and offer to send it to recruiters and hiring managers as part of your application.

(If you need help in this area, the course Crafting Better Requirements will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to write high-quality requirements.)

Process Improvement

Don’t wait for permission from management to start thinking of ways to improve a business process or the requirements or quality assurance process at your organization. Once you come up with a good plan, put it on paper and start preparing to sell your ideas to your boss in a persuasive way.

Elicitation Skills

Don’t wait for an opportunity to start leading requirements sessions to practice elicitation skills. But don’t ask for permission – invite a group of coworkers to discuss a process improvement initiative, or colleagues from a local professional association group to brainstorm ideas to attract more members, and start facilitating meetings to get practice.

Ready, Set, Action

Here are examples of questions we receive at Bridging the Gap:

My organization expects me to take both project management and business analysis responsibilities. How do I convince my manager that a blended PM/BA role is not as effective, and that my time is better spent doing what I was hired to do — business analysis — without having to wear the project manager hat as well?

I’m in a company that disregards the BA role. The developers start their design before we’re even finished with our requirements. How do you keep forging ahead and try to get an organizational acceptance of the importance of BA work?

I was recently hired as an IT business analyst. After 6 months on the job I realize that what they really want is more like a project coordinator or admin assistant. My boss forbids me to write design documents or detailed requirements for our software projects. How can I turn this around, or is it likely to be a mistaken hire?

The answer to all these questions boils down to the same essence: having convincing arguments relative to the importance of the business analyst role and your ability to fulfill this role, and knowing how to present these arguments in a compelling way.

Clearly, in order to have convincing arguments, you must be good at what you do, and provide evidence that your work (facilitating requirements sessions, documenting requirements, achieving consensus around the business problem and what needs to be built to solve it, and so on) adds value to the organization.

However, being good is not enough: you must be able to present your case in a manner that creates rapport with your audience and instill readiness for action. Persuasion is an inseparable part of most professions, and business analysis is not an exception. Make it one of your goals to learn how to influence people.

What are you waiting for?

Just start, right now.

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