Getting Started as a Business Systems Analyst

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So you want to be a better requirements analyst. Or maybe you’re completely new to business analysis and you just want to learn what requirements analysis involves, period.

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We BA's are occasionally asked, "What do you do?" I try to make a joke out of this innocent question by replying, "Well, what would YOU do with English and writing degrees? I'm a Business Analyst of course." People don’t laugh.

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In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the practice of resume writing is not what it used to be. Resumes must be more clean, concise, and convincing than they were in recent years. Today’s business analysts need every edge they can get.

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While my co-workers know me as a manager of Business and Systems Analysis, others know me as a Triathlete (A triathlon is multi-sport event involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance events; most commonly swimming, bicycling, and running).  It was while reading a recent article about Triathlon that I began to draw a strong parallel between achieving career goals as a business analyst and achieving goals as a triathlete. 

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The structure of business analysis documents isn't a commonly discussed topic. This article will show what documents are produced by a Business Analyst and the main sections they contain.

These are the main documents produced by a BA over the course of a project...
 

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There are as many types of business analyst personalities as there are organizations and projects. The million-dollar questions is, how can a manager match an analyst’s unique skills to the projects that can really benefit from them, helping to ensure a project’s success? How can a manager build stronger, perhaps more suitable skills in his analysts?

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Taking a long lens approach to looking at 2011 is an apt metaphor that should serve as a reminder to BAs of the perspective they need to take to in terms of both their professional development and their role in the organization. There’s no better time to take stock and strategize on how to best prepare for the opportunities and the challenges you’ll experience ahead.

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As I look back on the last nine years of my BA career, I realize just how well that initial reason for leaving the call center, that desire to make a difference for my customers, has served as a guiding light for me as a BA. Providing my customers with tools and processes that anticipate problems they may have has been a goal throughout my years as a BA.

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Many business analysts lack a clear strategy to improve their abilities and increase the value they deliver to their organizations. They don't spend any time considering performance goals and envisioning strategies to achieve them, and as a result, they miss opportunities to continue to evolve and grow their role and responsibilities over time.

Fortunately, there are some steps that any BA interested in becoming a star performer can take to close competence gaps and learn new behaviors and strategies capable of increasing their productivity and the quality of their work. In this article, I will address one of the most effective ones: setting clear and measurable performance goals, and finding opportunities to practice the related skills that can produce the desired performance improvement.

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Business Analysis is a term that covers a wide range of different disciplines, which has grown in scope over the past 10-15 years. BAs can become involved in a variety of different activities, depending on the organisation and the particular project that they are working on – these can range from very technical to very business focused activities.  So if you're working as a Business Analyst, or working with a Business Analyst, what can you expect?
 

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The role of business analysts and systems analysts appears to be very closely related, and there is no agreement on the definitions of the roles or the required skill set to become one of the said analysts. Though the number of these positions is increasing, the understanding of what the business and systems analysts are remains unclear and differs between organisations. A review of literature shows that there are common roles and skills between the two positions, as well as very distinct roles and skills that are clear. This research has demonstrated that although there is some harmony between the articles and interviews on the distinctions between the business analyst and the systems analyst, there are still discrepancies that can only be understood through further research.

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I get this question and variations of it all the time! What is a senior business analyst? What skills do I need to develop to become one? What are the most valued business analyst competencies?

This is a tough question. And although finding the answer can be difficult, it’s also a tough question because it has multiple answers. Business analysis, like many, if not most, professions, exists within an organizational context. Different organizations value different competencies and so senior can mean something different depending on the organization in which you work and the strengths you bring to the table.
 

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Learn all about the ISEB diploma in Business Analysis offered by the British Computer Society (BCS). It offers an industry recognized qualification without mandating a set duration of prior business analysis work experience.

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Today the term Business Analyst is synonymous with a career in the IT industry but the most successful and valuable analysts are those who understand the 'business' rather than those who understand IT. So what exactly is a Business Analyst? What is the Business Analyst’s role? What is the best background for this job? What skill set is required? What type of person is the best fit? What training is required and available?

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Managers who supervise business analysts, particularly in large companies, frequently struggle with creating a competency model for BAs. What are the key elements to consider? How to structure the various BA levels and titles? How to make sure that the competency model truly reflects business needs? Even if it requires a certain level of effort to be developed, a competency model offers a number of benefit to organizations...

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