5 Common BA Questions Answered: What technologies should I know as a Business Analyst?

Sep 04, 2023

As I coach business analysts around the globe, there are 5 common Business Analysis questions I receive consistently from aspiring and existing BAs:

  1. How do I move into a BA Role with no BA Experience?
  2. What technologies should I know as a BA?
  3. What certifications should I pursue as a BA?
  4. What is the next logical role after becoming a BA?
  5. How do I show my value when no one knows what I do?

Get ready to find out the answers to these common questions in a compilation of videos focusing on each question.

And if you missed part 1 which is the answer to, “How do I move into a BA Role with no BA Experience?” check it out: How do I move into a BA role with no BA experience?

My name is Paula Bell, also known as, The BA Martial Artist, as I leverage martial arts concepts to bring forth personal and professional results, and I am here to answer and discuss some strategies, and tips for Part 2 of the 5 Common BA Questions Answered I receive from aspiring and existing Business Analysts.

But before I get started, if you want more tips and strategies on business analysis and advancing your career, make sure to check out my YouTube channel and click the subscribe button and the bell to turn on notifications. In addition, I would love for you to engage with me by leveraging the “Community Link” on YouTube.

>> Now it’s time to enter the Dojo! <<

If this is the first video you are watching in this 5-part series, I highly recommend you listen to the other parts on my YouTube channel. This article is Part 2 and will focus on the second common question I receive, "What technologies should I know as a Business Analyst? (click on the link for the video version).

The short answer to this question is, "It depends!"

I know this may not be the answer you want to hear, but it is the truth. It really depends on a variety of factors. There are thousands of technologies out there you could learn, there are many options. But the question is, SHOULD you learn them?

Before I go deeper, I want to share a story with you that relates to having many options and figuring out how to obtain focus. When I was looking for an activity for my son to join to help with his focus, martial arts was recommended to me. I figured he would like it because he loved karate movies. I didn’t expect the many options out there related to martial arts. You have Tae Kwondo, Karate Jujitsu, and more. In order to make the decision though on what would be best for my son I had some things to consider. Like, as the instructor’s fit, size of the class, type of class, length of class, his learning style. When I started to gain clarity on the needs of my son, I was able to narrow it down to not only the type of martial arts but the best environment. He focused on one art as opposed to trying to know all the different types of art available to him. The ultimate goal was learning self-protection in the way he could consume it and we found the perfect class for him. That doesn’t mean that later all in life he could not expand and learn another art but he has to start somewhere.

This is no different from the technology dilemma that many BAs find themselves in as they work to advance their BA career. There is no way you can learn everything at one time, but you can take gradual steps to continue to advance your skills.

So don't fear, I am here with some tips on how to approach this dilemma and lessen some of that overwhelm that plaques business analyst. And I truly believe the reason this is a stress is because you want to stay relevant in the field of business analysis if you are currently in a BA role or working to obtain a BA role.

First things first, "Know Your Industry"

It's important to be clear on the industry, or industries, you are interested in for your BA career. Take a moment to do some self-introspection and research on what environments you thrive in. Don’t just choose an area because someone told you to, but choose something you truly like and enjoy. Being a business analyst is hard enough; therefore, try to choose an environment you can thrive in even when there are challenges.

Once you gain that clarity, you can then take the next step which is to look at job postings in those industries. You will want to look at a minimum of 5 different job postings. You will begin to identify patterns and common roles and responsibilities. You will also start to see common technologies or technical skills requested to be successful in that industry.

I want to take a step back on some ways to gain clarity on industries you may be interested in.

1. Think about the industries that pique your interest. For example, do you find that you thrive in the healthcare industry, or maybe you like the hustle and bustle of the financial industry? Only you know what piques your interest and the WHY behind that. The WHY is so important because it gives a deeper meaning to what you are doing. When defining your WHY, ask yourself? Why do I like this industry? If it’s for more money ask yourself why money is a driving force. Keeping asking yourself the thought-provoking question of why until you get to the root of why your interest is peaked.

2. Next, think about the skills you currently have and what industries align nicely with those skills. Now I want to say this, don’t sell yourself short here. The beauty of business analysis is that the skills are transferrable in so many ways. Therefore, really dig deep to identify and give yourself credit for all the skills you have and how those skills are transferrable to other industries, especially those you are interested in.

3. Think about your areas of opportunity. You have to be honest with yourself and identify where you have skill gaps based on the research you have done up to this point. You need to determine if the gaps are critical gaps that could become fatal flaws. Don’t let these gaps stop you from pursuing your goal of becoming a business analyst, or working in the industry you desire. You have a fire within for a reason. Therefore, take time to understand where you may need to sharpen your skills and sharpen them. Because there have been many BAs today who have been in this same position and are now rock stars! You can be as well.

4. Do your research. One final step and we talked about this some earlier, but make sure you do your research to know everything you can about the industry or industries of interest. You can do research online or if you know individuals who work in that industry see if they would be interested in discussing their experience with you. This is where networking comes into play because we need others to help us grow in our career. If the individual agrees to have a conversation with you, make sure you show up and have questions for them that will bring you clarity for you to define your next steps.

So, there you have it. 4 easy tips you can start implementing now to gain clarity.

If you find you have technology or technical gaps to close, try not to get overwhelmed.

If you have multiple technologies to learn here are some steps to take:

  • First, make sure you are committed to the industry you have chosen. Make a commitment right now that you will not pursue any other industries and will stay focused to achieve your technical goals.
  • Second, it’s time to prioritize. Determine which technology you will learn first and prioritize the rest. If you find that one technology is more dominant than others, for example, SQL, then it may be wise to start there first.
  • Third, research educational options to learn the technology. This does not mean you need to necessarily be certified either. Taking a class and obtaining a certificate demonstrating you have the skill may be enough. So don't stress yourself out thinking you have to be certified in everything unless you have found that positions explicitly ask for it.
  • Fourth, determine what educational option, or options, you will pursue. Find out the requirements, cost and make the decision to purchase the option. Remember this is an investment in yourself; there is no greater investment than that.
  • Fifth, once you have completed the education. Find a way to use what you have learned on the job. The more you can put the skill to use the more experience you will build. If for some reason you are unable to use it on your job, if you volunteer for an organization, or know of a friend who owns a business that can use that skill set see if they will let you do work for them to build on that skill.
  • Sixth, continue to work on your prioritized list to obtain the education you need to be successful. Remember your WHY during those times when you feel less motivated. This will help you to regain your motivation.

I also want to mention, as you continue to work on your technical skills that does not mean you cannot pursue opportunities in your desired industry. As opportunities open that you are interested in and you meet the majority of the requirements go ahead and pursue them because some companies are willing to train you on technology if you have the other skills that they need that are not as easily trainable.

  • Lastly, continue to network. Sometimes it takes advocacy to get your foot into the door. Therefore, networking is key. Start networking early and start looking at where you want to go in your career when you are currently in a position. There tends to be less stress when you can control your job movement instead of being forced to look for that next opportunity.

Now go forth and conquer as a ninja would and don’t let overwhelm stop you from pursuing your goals, but rather take smaller steps to achieve your goal.

Also, get ready for Part 3 when I will discuss the question, “What certifications should I pursue as a BA?"

Until next time,

The BA Martial Artist is signing off! 🥋

Author: Paula Bell

Paula Bell is a Certified Business Analyst, Master Life Coach, Certified Diversity & Inclusion Manager Coach, and Career Development Coach, with over 20 years of experience working in corporate America in varied project roles and industries. In addition, for the last 20+ years, Paula has been successful in running a consulting business that focuses on mind, body, and soul for over the last 20 years. She is passionate about inspiring, motivating, and encouraging others holistically, leveraging martial arts concepts, hence the alias “The BA Martial Artist”. To find out more about Paula you can visit her website at www.paulaabell.com.

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P.S. If you are looking to determine how you should gain clarity and focus on where you want to go in your Business Analysis career, my “Career Ninja Mastery Kit™” is the tool for you.

P.P.S. If you are working to advance your career and and you need additional assistance on updating your resume I offer an online self-paced resume course and resume review services working with me directly. If you need additional help with interview preparation I offer an online self-paced interview preparation and execution course and interview preparation services working with me directly.



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