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New Post 10/26/2011 5:59 PM
User is offline Raj
2 posts
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Need career advise. Please Help 

Greetings!

I am new to this forum. I am in desperate need of some advise. I'd like to start off by mentioning my background. I have a BE in Mechanical Engineering, MBA in Sysyems and Marketing, and an MS in Management Information Systems (Yeah, it was an overkill with all those degrees). I am struggling to make a career. I started out in the data warehousing world, building reports, SQL, PL/SQL programming. I have some exposure to Java Script and JSP, but not much. I was bored of building reports, so I asked my current employer to give me a BA role.

I speak very well, and have no issues in language communication. However, the first year of my BA did not go very well due to a Manager who took a dislike towards me. He went out of his way to put me down. He never gave me good reviews, and the learning did not happen under him for the past 2 years. I either need to get away from this job, or ask for another project. Either way, I'd like you to tell me what it is that is expected out of a BA candidate to get a job outside? I have not done requirements gathering, led JAD sessions, etc. I did however, analyze a lot of problems inherent in our application, and suggested solutions. I could not interact with the client as much as I needed to.

Are there some basic requirements that is expected out of a BA? I have mentioned my skill sets. Given those, what gaps do I need to fill? Do I need to learn any additional tools liek UML, etc that I don't know? What am I missing, and how do I get these under my belt?

I am very frustrated with the situation. I very badly need your expert advise and opinions to break this impasse. I am stagnating under the current job, and have not prospered one bit in the past 3 years. Please help me out here by shedding some light. I live in the Washington DC Metro area. I have been trying hard to meet a BA outside of my work area to get some advise, but unfortunately, in my currents contacts, I am unable to find one. I would love to meet a BA face to face to discuss this.

Thank you, and God bless you.

Raj

 
New Post 10/26/2011 8:04 PM
User is offline Chris Adams
319 posts
5th Level Poster






Re: Need career advise. Please Help 

Raj,

For starters, you have found the right community.  It's a shame you didn't find us 3 years ago.  You have a great educational background for a role as a BA.  I too come from a Mechanical Engineering background.  Engineers typically make good problem solvers.  The MIS, Systems, and Marketing eduction all help too.

Communication is paramount to the role of a BA.  From your post, you seem to have that.

May I ask why YOU believe that your current manager took a disliking towards you.  Look inside yourself and try to find a really honest answer.  It may help this community better answer your questions.

You are in a BA role now, so I would suggest acquiring the skills in your current position that you will need to get your next BA role .  If I had to list the top skills required of a BA (in the systems space since that seems to fit your background) it would be:

  • Communication Skills (Written and Oral) - conveying complex ideas in a well structured email or document is something most people struggle with.
  • Requirements Elicitation and Writing - Writing clear, unambiguous requirements takes real work.  Everybody thinks their requirements are clear until someone else reads them.  ALL requirements should be able to be traced back to high level business goals, though this almost never seems to happen. 
  • Process Flow Documentation - This is important for both current and target state environments.  UML Activity diagrams work and are probably the most known and accepted standard.  You should learn it if you don't know it, but I prefer the sophistication of BPMN.  Also a highly respected standard
  • Business Entity Diagrams/Entity Relationship Diagrams - Here i'm referring to logical information design NOT physical data design.  UML Class diagrams can be used to create these logical models. Understanding the static structure of a system is so important for understanding a solution and catching problems early.

A close second to these might be:

  • UML Sequence Diagrams - Specifically for cases where lots of systems or services talk to each other.
  • Context Diagram/Data Flow Diagrams (from Structure Systems Analysis and Design - search Ed Yourdon)

Find ways to start using just one of these skills or techniques in your current job. Don't try to master them all at once.  Document (literally write down) your lessons learned after using it.  Come back an ask questions :-)


Chris Adams
Core Member – ModernAnalyst.com
LinkedIn Profile
 
New Post 10/28/2011 3:31 AM
User is offline Raj
2 posts
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Re: Need career advise. Please Help 
Modified By Raj  on 11/1/2011 5:28:51 AM)

Chris,

I cannot thank you enough for having taken the trouble to analyze the situation so well! Your answer definitely provides me a plan to work with. I do have, and probably will have, in the future, more questions as we go along. For starters are there any tools that I can download for free to get started on the concepts of UML, process diagrams, etc? Are there Requirements documentation tools as well? Can you point me to some resources to start with?

 
New Post 11/1/2011 4:00 PM
User is offline Chris Adams
319 posts
5th Level Poster






Re: Need career advise. Please Help 

Raj,

Tools (Software) can be helpful, but to really learn these things I recommend Visio, books or training, and on-the-job application of the skills.

UML Activity Diagrams, Class Diagrams, and Sequence Diagrams I recommend starting with an overview book like: UML Distilled by Martin Fowler

Another well written book after you have some of the basic down is UML 2 Toolkit

When it comes to BPMN there aren't too many good resources out there yet, but I picked up the following book and really like it so far. It starts simple and builds on itself with good examples. BPMN 2.0 by Thomas Allweyer

Requirements Elicitation and Writing is a little trickier.  There are tons of  books out there that will tell you the basic tips of what to do and what not to do.  Traceability is very important.  However, requirements should be based on the Business Entity Model you develop so that everybody is speaking the same vocabulary.  These are also called Fact Models.  Do some research online to start and understand this concept a bit. Then we can have all sorts of fun discussions on good requirements.


Chris Adams
Core Member – ModernAnalyst.com
LinkedIn Profile
 
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