5 Steps to become a Business Anlayst

Posted by balajee777 on April 9th, 2020

You might be asking, “How do I become a business analyst?” In what follows, I’ll help you discover where you are along the typical transition path as well as address some of the most common special circumstances that tend to come up from aspiring business analysts.

Before I forget, I want to be sure you know about my step-by-step BA career planning course (it’s free) that’s designed to help you, the mid-career professional, kick-start your business analysis career. The course will help you dig deeper into each of the concepts outlined below. You’ll also want to be sure to download the Business Analyst Career Roadmap as it will give you a visual guide and alternate paths through the 5 steps.

With that out of the way, onward with the 5 steps!

Step 1 – Learn about Business Analysis and Confirm Your Career Choice

As with entering any profession, building knowledge of business analysis is an important part of your career change. And there are several ways to accumulate enough knowledge to be successful. You can read the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge®, though I recommend that those new to the profession choose a more accessible text. The BABOK is amazing, but it’s not written to be accessible by aspiring business analysts…it’s written to be a reference guide for working business analysts..

Achieve your dream to become the Business Analyst Training

Becoming knowledgeable about the role of the business analyst is only the first step. The biggest mistake I see is that many aspiring BAs spend way too much time here, neglecting the realities of the next 4 steps. Alternatively, I see a lot of professionals get over-invested in business analysis only to discover the career is not a good fit for them. That’s why I recommend learning just enough to determine if business analysis is the right career choice for you.

Check out my 42 Reasons to Start a Business Analyst Carrer and The First 5 Signs that Business Analysis is the Career Choice for You for some clarity on whether or not you’ve found the right fit.

Even if these checklists confirm you are on the right track, you might still not be 100% sure. A second and more concrete litmus test is to practice some BA techniques to get a feel for the role.  We’ll speak to this specifically in Step 4, so keep please reading.

Step 2 – Identify Your Transferable Skills and Leverage Points to Develop Your Positioning

As a mid-career professional, you most likely qualify for a subset of BA jobs already. (Don’t be frustrated by only qualifying for a subset – even the most experienced BAs do not qualify for all BA jobs.) Many professionals I work with are able to skip right past entry-level BA positions by identifying their transferable skills and the unique qualifications from their career backgrounds. You may also be able to open up opportunities within a slice of business analysis or in a transitional role.

Transferable skills come from experiences using business analysis techniques in a non-BA role. Michelle Swoboda shares a process for translating your skills into business analysis. 

Whether or not you have a deep career history in business analysis, it’s likely that one or more elements of your career history give you expertise to leverage into business analysis. Whether it’s your knock-your-socks off communication skills or your deep experience in a relevant industry domain, you have a quality that potential managers are specifically hiring for.

If you are currently employed in a company that employs BAs, then your most valuable leverage point very well could be knowledge of that individual organization, the business model, and the business stakeholders.

Other factors can include:

  • Industry domain experience 
  • Expertise in a specific process area, such as HR or finance
  • Expertise in a broad set of functional areas or a broad collection of organizations

(You might be thinking this step doesn’t apply to you. I’ve worked with many, many mid-career professionals on their career transition plans and we’ve always been able to find at least one transferable skill and career experience. More often, we’ve discovered several transferable skills and relevant experiences. Our BA career planning course walks you through this process in more detail.)

After discovering your transferable skills and leverage points, this is a good time to update your business analyst resume to showcase how your past experience qualifies you for roles within or close to business analysis.

Step 3 – Get Tangible Feedback by Putting Out Feelers

Once you’ve built up your confidence in your career choice and your business analysis skills, it’s time to get some real, tangible feedback. This could mean sharing your career goals with your manager and asking for more opportunities to practice BA techniques. It might also mean circulating your resume to a few recruiters or applying to a few business analyst jobs. (What you do in this step will depend heavily on what path you are taking through the Roadmap.)

The point of this exercise is not necessarily to find the opportunity (though if that happens for you right off the bat, that’s a lucky bonus), but to get feedback about how your career goals are perceived by those that work with you or are in a position to hire you.

You may be surprised to learn that a specific skill is extremely marketable and can provide an entryway into a business analyst role. Or you might be given some ideas for strengthening your positioning even further. Which leads us to the next step.

Step 4 – Approach Your Work with a BA Mindset and Strengthen Your Positioning

As part of the analysis you did in step 2, you may have discovered some gaps. Add these to your professional development plan and explore opportunities to fill them through volunteer positions or by building on-the-job business analyst experiences. What we see is that one business analysis task tends to lead to another, creating a virtuous cycle of new business opportunities and expanded experience.

Practice techniques such as:

  • improving a business process
  • facilitating meetings
  • crafting use cases
  • scoping projects with these 5 questions
  • eliciting information

Not getting the response you were hoping for from these exercises? Here are 3 things your boss needs to hear you say before they’ll let you take on new job responsibilities.

And if you have doubts, read Kimberley Heath’s success story about how she created a BA volunteer opportunity for herself and what she learned from the experience, or my story about how I got noticed for on-the-job opportunities by relentlessly getting myself invited to meetings and actively participating in any way I could.

As you a cultivate a BA mindset, you’ll find that business analysis begets business analysis. Once you see your first opportunity, several more sprout up right in front of you. Is a virtuous circle that can lead you to a full-fledged business analysis role, step-by-step.

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