How to decide if business analysis is something for you? There should be more consideration than just “I’ve heard about the profession and I think I might like it”. It’s a big decision after all. Before you spend a lot of time for (re)training, let’s take a closer look to you and the job, looking for a fit.
It’s difficult to answer the question if something fits you if you don’t know yourself. Spend some time on discovery as it pays off greatly.
What are your talents? I recommend taking the test by the Gallup Instituteand learn about your 5 biggest strengths. It gives a lot of insight you may have never noticed before or appreciate enough in yourself. The results are provided with descriptions of your talents and hints on how can you use them.
I advise you to ask yourself as well – what am I good at? What people ask me to help them with? What grades I got at school from diverse subjects?
It’s good to know what your personality type is. There are a lot of models or tests. I found Hartman’s Test with 4 color types and MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) particularly interesting. You can find it on the website 16 personalities(together with examples of famous representatives of the types) or in the book “Do what you are” (with real life interviews).
The question is what do you want to spend your life doing? Remembering that you only live once. Which problems would you like to solve? Which matters seems to be the most important, valuable for you and should (in your opinion) become to others? Who would you like to help? What would you like to change?
What are the values that drive your decisions? What is your value hierarchy? Read this article to discover it step by step <link to value hierarchy article>.
What do you like and dislike?
We gain a lot of valuable insights about our preferences and needs when we analyze what we liked and disliked at school and our previous jobs. What made us happy? What drove us crazy?
What do you like doing when learning, working or just in your free time? When have you felt a state of flow? When have you lost your sense of time?
Learn what it’s about
Before you decide to direct your efforts to become a business analyst, check whether it’s a good choice. If you don’t know much about this profession, there are some hints below on how you can learn it.
Talk to people
It’s good to talk to people, who do the job. Maybe there is someone in your group of friends, family members or colleagues in the current company who is a business analyst? Go and talk to them. You don’t know a person like that? Maybe someone you know knows an analyst? You can ask around. However, if you’ll fail, don’t break down. There are other options. Luckily, we live in times when there’s virtually everything on the Internet. Look for business analyst blogs or profiles on professional social media like LinkedIn, Xing or whatever is popular in your country. You may discover that you have mutual friends. If not – you can just write to this person online. Ask your questions – what do you need to know to make your decision on this profession?
Those questions may be like:
- What was your career path?
- Knowledge from which areas (studies, trainings, books) are you using at your work?
- What do you do on a daily basis? How your typical day looks like?
- What do you like about your job? What’s the most rewarding? Why?
- What do you dislike? What’s the most difficult or irritating? Why?
- What do think – which personal features and knowledge helps in this job?
Ask for everything which is important to you, according to your talents, personality, values, plans and life mission. The more you know about yourself, the more useful questions you can ask. When hearing the answer, try to figure out what’s specific for the person, company and environment, this analyst is working in. What is the reality of the job and not specific to the person. It’s easier to assess when you ask few people.
Check job postings
If you’re interested in what is expected from business analysts, check job postings. They will give you hints which skills, tools, personal traits the companies look for. Check how many of them do you have right now, and what do you need to learn.
You’ll learn about the profession reading about business analysis on the Internet. Find articles, blogs, portals related to the job, find the latest or the most interesting topics, and read a few articles. You will not get the full picture after a short reading, but at least it will give you some idea and how interesting is it for you to know more.
A book may be a better choice if you’d like to have an overview. It brings you more content than an article so you can dive deeper into the topic. Typically it starts with some context, background, introduction and presents an approach, a technique or the whole profession in a more detailed way.
Go to a conference
A good occasion to meet business analysts, learn new things and check how you feel in this environment, is a conference. There are some events specifically for business analysts. Some of them are international, some might be organized in your country or in the local environment like city, district or even within your company. Just ask google, sign in and participate.
Podcasts, YouTube, webinars
It may happen that you’re very unfortunate and business analysis is not very popular in the place you live. Still, there is hope. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can use worldwide content in various forms. Not only articles can provide you with information about business analysis, but also podcasts, YouTube videos and webinars. Find some and try them out.
If you’re lucky and not only have an opportunity to talk to a real business analyst but the person can show you the work behind the scenes – spend a day or more just observing this person at work – try a shadowing technique. It might be a brilliant experience, far more valuable and informative than just talking about the job.
Consider different companies, structures, cultures
Be aware, that the work may vary depending on the company – its structure, culture and projects. Take this into account when talking to people. Try to figure out which working conditions are the best for you.
Know underlying competencies
There is a business analyst competencies catalog proposed by IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) and it’s worth to know it. You can find the list in BABOK Guide v. 3 (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge). You will learn more about which cooperation skills, personal traits and knowledge is needed.
Before you spend more time on getting qualified for this job, just try to learn a single thing. Choose something from the list of job posting requirements like business processes modelling, learn it (from a book, a course, studies, private lessons, consultations or the Internet) and check how do you like it?
Can you play a business analyst role in a project? Maybe some of the people or companies you know need to analyze problem, find a solution, gather requirements for new software? Try to do something in this role and check how it suits you.
After such extensive research, you can summarize your findings. Maybe you don’t need to gather information from all of the proposed sources, however, the more you know, the better the quality of the decision. Depends on how much time you give yourself for the decision making.
Gather the list of pros and cons. You can use a SWOT analysis method. Or just a simple list.
If you’d like to do it more professionally, gather the list of criteria which are crucial for you when it comes to a job. What do you expect? What do you need to have? The criteria should be individually selected by yourself, however, I’m giving you some examples:
- Perspective for the future on the market
- Usage of my personal talents
- Development opportunities
- Contact with people
- Being at home, spending time with family
Are those criteria equally important for you or are there some that you give more weights to?
Assess every point and check whether the criteria relevant for you may be fulfilled with a business analyst job? What’s the result?
And what is your heart saying to you? Do you agree with the rational analysis result? Do you feel calm, happy, excited? Or do you feel an internal anxiety, discord, rebellion? Listen to it. What does it tell you?
Make the decision. Is business analysis something for you?
And what if you choose wrong? Life doesn’t end. You can retrain to some other profession. However, you will be wiser because of the new experiences. You only need to watch carefully, try to understand and learn your lessons.