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New Post 7/9/2013 6:57 PM
User is offline Pending
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New BA - Need advice 

Hello all,

I recently graduated from college and was fortunate enough to get a job as a BA for a good company.  I've only been working for a couple weeks so I don't have any assignments or projects yet, but I am feeling a little lost and was wondering if any of you veteran BAs had any advice for a newbie starting out in the field?  I majored in business administration in college so my technical background isn't too strong (I know the basics of Java, VB.NET and SQL, but that's about it) and I've basically come to realize that school isn't exactly a great simulation of the real world; I know a lot of "theory" but I have very little practical experience to speak of.

I took a systems analysis class in school and I did an internship where I worked with a group of BAs, so I at least have the building blocks in terms of understanding things like requirements documentation, use case analysis, various modeling and diagramming techniques, etc...  However, I feel like I am still missing a lot of the requisite knowledge/skills to be a good BA and I'm not sure how I can teach myself these things.  Is there a standard methodology or approach that a BA is supposed to take when working a project (like DMAIC for Six Sigma)?  How can you be sure you've elicited every last requirement from the customer?  What happens if there are groups of stakeholders all with different requirement needs (sometimes conflicting) for the same system?  Are there any tips or tricks of the trade I should be familiar with?  Any advice, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, and I'd love to hear some of the "war stories" from you vets about your experiences as BAs.

 
New Post 7/10/2013 10:42 AM
User is offline NitWitNick
259 posts
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Re: New BA - Need advice 

“I've only been working for a couple weeks so I don't have any assignments or projects yet, but I am feeling a little lost and was wondering if any of you veteran BAs had any advice for a newbie starting out in the field?”

You are New, so not much will be expected of you at first.

 I usually try to gather some basic information when I’m there. I’ll try to see what’s going on … like what the business is about, what applications and platforms are they using: In-House, Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS), Outsourced (Business Processing Outsourcing), etc. That way I know who I might have to deal with: Company programmers, Vendors or on/offshore third-party services.

 I’ll see if there is any documentation on the system that I’ll be working on … Flow Charts, Detailed Process Charts, Database Schema (Tables, Fields), etc.

 You might see if there is a User Manual on the application and familiarize yourself with it. You might see if there is someone you could sit with for a while and observe how they use the application.

 When in doubt, ask, there should be people there that have answers.

 =====

 “Is there a standard methodology or approach that a BA is supposed to take when working a project (like DMAIC for Six Sigma)?”

 Usually a company uses their own version of some methodology, something that may or not be great, but it is what they are used to doing. What I would look for is some type of Repository (file cabinet, hard disk) where Templates are kept for the BA, PM, Developer documentation … look at ones from previous projects so you can see how things are done at that company … the way they are written, the detail, etc.

 If there are no templates, then search the web for the one you need, there are plenty out there with examples.

 =====

 “How can you be sure you've elicited every last requirement from the customer?”

 After you got what you think is every last requirement, you prepare the design specification documents and review with the customer for their approval and Sign-Off ... besure to get that Sign-Off.

 =====

 “What happens if there are groups of stakeholders all with different requirement needs (sometimes conflicting) for the same system?”

 Years ago, I did a consolidation of 26 field offices into 1 central site. Each office had a way of doing things and the codes they used meant different thing at different sites.

 Example:

The code “X” could have meant Invalid, Expedite, Exclude, Pending … etc.

 Solution:

When the managers of each office came to the central site for the consolidation meetings, time was scheduled for solving issues like that … for an hour, they talked among themselves about what codes could standardize and gave us the results ... everyone was satisified because they were a part of the solution.

 There was a Screen and Database change we had to make to display and store the expanded codes.

 =====

 When given an assignment, Don’t Panic … I have been given stuff that I didn’t have a clue on … but there is Always someone there that can point you in the right direction … make an appointment with them and pick their brain.

 

Good Luck

 

 
New Post 7/13/2013 3:17 PM
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Re: New BA - Need advice 

Thank you for the advice!  I've been looking around the company website and finding templates, process models, documentation, etc... that have all been very helpful for my understanding.  I also checked out some of the templates and articles here on modernanalyst, there is a lot of good and interesting stuff!  I just want to get up to speed as quickly as possible so I can start contributing to my team.

 
New Post 8/24/2013 1:25 AM
User is offline y.meerbergen
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Re: New BA - Need advice 

 Nick has excellent advice here.

I just would add: make sure you meet as much people as possible, and show your good side (empathy, solution-oriented, undrestanding, etc..).

You never know when one of those can become a killer stakeholder. 

Good luck.

 

Y

 
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