Career Development for Your Business Analysis Team

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Apr 10, 2022
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When I started my business analyst career back in the 1990's, career development was considered the individual's responsibility. Over my career I have managed several teams of Business Analysis Resources, and I think that mentality has changed over time. There are benefits for the manager and the organization to help their team members develop in their career. By helping your team members grow you can get:

  • Higher productivity from your team
  • Knowledge transfer across your team, making resources more interchangeable
  • Increased diversity of skills
  • Higher employee satisfaction, likely translating to higher retention

Assessing Business Analysis Skills

It’s difficult to provide career advice to team members unless you get to know them. That includes understanding their current skill levels, their interests, and what they don’t like to do. I’ve learned that blanket statements rarely work well for describing needs of the individuals on my team. A great way to assess where each of your team members are with their business analysis skill is to use the IIBA Career Action Guide, which is available to members. Part of this is a Self-Assessment where the responses from the 30 questions are scored to determine the performance of business analysis competencies on the job. The output of the exercise is broken down into the six knowledge areas from the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®), into the following levels:

  • Thought Leader Level
  • Expert Level Practitioner
  • Skilled Level Practitioner
  • Entering Business Analysis Profession

To be transparent, here are the scores from my self-assessment:

Knowledge Area Thought Leader Level Expert Level Practitioner Skilled Level Practitioner Entering Business Analysis Profession
Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring   X    
Elicitation and Collaboration X      
Requirements Lifecycle Management X      
Strategy Analysis     X  
Requirements Analysis and Design Definition   X    
Solution Evaluation   X    

By having each of your team members take this self-assessment, you get an evaluation of where your resources are weak and strong. I highly recommend using this tool. It’s a quick way to evaluate your team on standard practices. I’ve found it to be a helpful and efficient tool for me as a people manager.

The other aspect of assessing the skills of your team members is to understand their strengths and weaknesses in their soft skills. Things such as communication, facilitation, time management, etc. I feel these are equally as important as the knowledge areas for a business analysis professional to be successful.

Where to Invest in Your Team Members

Once you have assessed a team member, you need to decide where to invest in them. It might be in the individual’s interests, in a weak area, or it could focus on a strength to further build that skill. For my self-assessment, while Strategy Analysis was my weakest area, given how little I work in that area, I’ve decided that’s not where I want to focus my career development.

I like to describe skills as an equation. Knowledge + Experience = Skill. If you have knowledge but no experience, you won’t be skilled. Traditional training is an investment in knowledge. There are limited things you can provide from a training perspective. But when you look at experience, now that’s an area of many possibilities.

One of the richest learning environments for business analysis professionals is being partnered up with a more experienced resource. This is where they can observe, understand how the work is done, pick up techniques, and gain appreciation for how to do something well. For example, if you have a team member looking to take on larger projects, they will need to learn how to communicate with leaders in your organization. Bring them into meetings to observe how to effectively communicate at a summary level versus the details they've used. Allow them to hear the types of questions executives ask. Support them by following up with a discussion about what they observed and answer their questions.

Career Action Plan

I’ve worked at a number of large multinational organizations, and they’ve all had different ways of putting together annual goals. A development plan is always part of that. The format isn’t important, but what you do with the development plan is. Work with each team member to discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Set a few goals and make them SMART goals. Time-bound is an important aspect as it’s easy to put off professional development. Decide on how to support the goal with experience and training.

For your more senior team members, they may be looking to tackle something new. Think about assigning them to another area of the business or in a business analysis specialization. Perhaps cybersecurity or data analytics would interest them.

Here’s a recent webinar titled “Prepare Your Business Analysis Team for 2022” to give you more ideas.

Reviewing Progress Toward the Career Action Plan

Building a plan is an important step, but as Manager, I’ve learned it’s important to have regular follow-up discussions. It could be monthly or quarterly but monitoring the progress of the goal will help improve the odds of success. I’ve had team members forget about their development goals until the end of the year and guess what happens. Yep, they don’t get done. Help keep the focus on their goals, and you will both benefit from them accomplishing it. They will feel successful, and they will feel supported.

The IIBA Career Action Guide for members which has been discussed in this article includes templates as well as the self-assessment quiz. It’s helpful to have tools at your fingertips to support your career development activities.

Business Analysis Career Action Guide

Business Analysis Manager Support

Now you’ve got some ideas to help your team members develop in their career, but what about you? I’ve managed three business analysis teams and a non-business analysis team in my career, and I’ve learned most of my skills a bit at a time by experience and from leaders I respect. I haven’t been successful in finding a resource that taught me how to manage a business analysis team. That’s why I’ve created a community on LinkedIn to support managers in our roles. If you’re a team lead, manager, or above, you can request to join this group. This group has restricted access to provide peer-to-peer support. I hope you’ll join me there - Business Analysis Leaders LinkedIn Group


Author: Scott Bennett, Manager of Business Analysis, IIBA

Scott Bennett is the Manager of Business Analysis at the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). Scott has managed several Business Analysis teams in his 20-year career in the Financial Services, Corporate Real Estate, and Non-Profit industries. Before working at IIBA, Scott worked at CIBC, Capital One, Sun Life, and BentallGreenOak. Scott holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and is CBAP and CBDA certified.

 



 




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