Name: Perry McLeod, PMP
Company: PJM Limited
Title: Business Analysis Consultant
How did you become a Business Analyst?
I have been a professional business analyst for more than 10 years. Originally I had planned a career in database design. My first job out of school was as a Jr. Oracle Administrator on a BSD platform. It wasn’t long before I discovered that the only way to get decent requirements from management and the user community was to gather them myself. Preferring the business side I found myself on the bleeding edge of business analysis.
I was fascinated by what are now common techniques such as diagnostic modeling, active listening and so on. The ability to pull concepts from the minds of others and then document those concepts into implementable requirements was an exciting field of study. It was a hard road though – business analysts were nothing more than glorified administrators to designers, back then. I can still recall what an old punch card guy said to me once, “BA’s are nothing more than developer wannabes”. That one still stings after all these years.
Businesses were only just starting to take back ownership of what was always theirs. Over the years I have studied many aspects of business analysis and have become an academic as well as a teacher and practitioner.
My value proposition has evolved into “integrating more than 10-years of experience into architecture driven initiatives and best practices to lead, plan, elicit, structure, document, validate and communicate requirements from any industry that are specific, visible, accountable, measurable and traceable.”
I joined the International Institute of Business Analysts IIBA® the first year that they came into existence and have never looked back. Currently I am the VP of Professional Certification for the Toronto Chapter. I would have my CBAP® (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certification by now but my son Aidan was born on the day of last year’s exam. I guess I can’t be too upset. I will be working on it this year however and look forward to that challenge.
What do you find challenging about your job?
I suppose the most challenging thing I find about my job, after all of these years, is that there is still a resistance to Business Analysis as a profession. In my experience many companies know that BA’s “document requirements” but it’s so much more than that. On the surface we are conceptual, contextual, logical and physical; but underneath there has to be a strong personal and professional sense of self. We are strategic and we are also “down there with the users” we need to be able to “see” a problem in our minds eye, take it apart, move the bits around in space, add some new bits and then put it all back together in such a way that it solves the problem for the most people, in the least amount of time and cost. I don’t know about you but try explaining that one to a manager who thinks that all you do is write business requirements documents.
Besides our brains the most post powerful tool we have for doing what we do is, by far, our mouths. We are professional communicators, pure and simple. I have found over the years however that emerging requirements management tools such Rational, Enterprise Architect and DOORS® have certainly made that communication a little easier. They allow for enhanced communication through modeling, if used effectively.
What does a day in your role as Business Analyst look like?
A day in the role as Business Analyst, for me, is probably much different than most other BA’s. I tend not to write requirements documents anymore. Much of my time is spent in the first few weeks of a project making sure that the staff BA’s have all the training and knowledge that they need to effectively advocate for the business. I will often prepare business cases or feasibility studies. I tend to spend a lot of time with management talking about ways to improve their service delivery model.
If you were to learn a new skill or competency, what would it be and why?
My role as a Business Analyst is clearly evolving into something more. BA’s don’t just document requirements we are fast becoming a strategic role in any business operation. If I were to take this further I think an exciting new skill for me to learn more about would be actually building an entire business model or enterprise architecture model from the scope all the way down to the functioning system - Zachman Model kind of stuff.
What is one piece of advice that you would like to pass on to junior Business Analysts?
Business Analysis as a theory and a practice is something that I have great passion for. There seems to be almost endless opportunities to grow lean. The single bit of advise that I would pass along to any business analyst, be they a beginner or seasoned professional, is that your “job” or “title” or “function” should in no way define what you do (are you listening HR?). Business Analysis is a complex and intricate profession that rests between the logical and the physical – take the time to explore and learn; and at every opportunity break free of the boundaries that you have been placed in by your employer.
We sell options and solutions so do your research and go out there and sell your self as an invaluable resource to the business.
For more details you can view the on-line profile of Perry McLeod or visit the PJM Limited website.