Growth Areas and Development Paths for Business Analysts

Growth Areas and Development Paths for Business Analysts

What qualities and abilities do business analysts need in order to be successful at their job and stay relevant in the future.
15 вер 2020 1522
In late April 2020, at the height of the quarantine, we hosted a webinar devoted to the same topic as this article. A lot of time has elapsed since then, and therefore certain things can now be assessed in retrospect.

First of all, recall that sense of confusion and unpredictability at the onset of the quarantine. All habitual conditions of life and work suddenly disappeared. Borders were closed, passenger traffic canceled, working at the office was prohibited. Coffee bars, restaurants and co-working spaces closed as well. Nurseries and schools shut down.

Life stopped? Of course not. But the usual way we lived changed. Yet, there was nothing radically new for most of us – we just started using delivery services and online communications more frequently.

No problems then? Not quite. Times got hard for many companies, business stopped growing, employees were either laid off or on unpaid leave. And for elderly or disabled people and others whose life had been difficult before the quarantine, it got even harder to survive.

But how is all this connected with business analysts and growth points? Well, the fact that you are reading this article means that neither the quarantine nor the dreadful virus has swayed your desire to conquer new summits in this profession. I’m really happy about that! Moreover, the trials and challenges we encountered during this period helped us identify what makes us effective. So, let’s find out what our directions for growth are and what qualities should we focus on.

We will start from an approach that will be useful for finding answers to these and other similar questions. Most of the things discussed below can be summed up in the phrase:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

For a business analyst this means that in any situation it is helpful to remain... an analyst. You should analyze every situation (impartially, if possible) and clearly define a “project scope” for yourself. What cannot be changed – that is constraints. And what can be changed – that is requirements. Sounds familiar? Yes, that’s what we are doing almost every day! Just in other domains. In this case, you are the customer to whom a certain value must be delivered.
Yes, it is difficult to achieve such a level of self-reflection where you can objectively assess your capabilities. Yes, it is difficult to avoid self-justification, or self-depreciation. Yet, believe me, it’s not only possible, but also fabulously interesting.

Key takeaways for business analysts

So, let's review the situation. The issues we discussed during the webinar can be summarized in a few ideas:

  1. The IT industry is at the cutting edge of technological development, therefore IT professionals, analysts included, have excellent prospects to remain on high demand for years to come.
  2. It’s extremely important for an analyst to be flexible and quickly learn new technologies in order to remain effective in any conditions.
  3. Today, human qualities form the basis of everyone’s personal brand. This is an area where AI has no chances to compete with humans.
  4. Continuous training and development of these qualities is a key to the analyst’s success in our ever changing world. The more experience you have, the shorter learning activities you need: from basic education for newbies to individual or team coaching for experienced professionals.

As a ‘coordinate system’ for discussing growth paths we have used the structure of a business analyst’s underlying competencies described in ВАВОК™ (A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge™). To make the discussion more substantive, we conducted a survey asking the question “What qualities do we need in order to cope with these challenges?”

Main qualities of a business analyst

The survey results are presented below. Over 100 webinar participants answered the survey questions.

Note that many qualities got lower grades, and it might seem that such qualities are not necessary for analysts. But there is another reason for the lower grades. The survey was conducted among business and system analysts, which means that respondents already have most of the listed qualities. Therefore, the highest grades were given to qualities that need to be developed and set the direction of future growth. Let’s look at them in more detail.

analytical thinking business analysis.jpg

Systems thinking – this, of course, is a basis for an analyst’s work. This is an ability to see the full picture of what is happening more clearly, in a broader and deeper way than all other people involved. Yet, this is a very subjective quality, which cannot be touched, is difficult to measure, and it’s unclear how to develop it. To grow this quality, you need to discuss problems and their solutions jointly with your colleagues. During such discussions, you get an opportunity to review a situation from different perspectives, consider many pros and cons, and eventually develop the capability.

business analysis abilities.jpg

Adaptability – this is an ability to stand the test of hard times, circumvent restrictions, and gain new experience. Adaptability can be developed through activities that make your brain search for solutions in difficult or dynamic situations. It could be hiking to unpopulated places, taking part in quests, or DIY activities. It’s both useful and enjoyable, since all such activities make you happy about achieving certain goals and getting interesting impressions from the process itself.

In the second part of our article we’ll look at the rest of the results discussed in the webinar.

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