New Business Analyst considers next steps

Two months ago I was hired as a Business Analyst and am new to the IT industry. What should I do now to help my career?

First, congratulations on your new job and welcome to the new and exciting world of high tech. It’s a great place to be and welcome to our industry. To your question, being so new to the computer industry, I suggest you begin by trying to learn as much as you can about 1. Your company 2. The industry in which your company competes 3. The software development methodologies used within your IT shop 4. . . . and the best practices related to the business analysis profession.

Now is your time to learn as much as you can about your profession. As you will see over time, this desire to learn will provide you with many advantages as your career moves forward. Remember, that as a Business Analyst, your feet are in two worlds, technology and business. That is to say, your job is to play the intermediary between IT and the internal business areas that IT supports. That said, to be the most effective, you must be knowledgeable in three basic areas; the business analysis profession, the business area you support and the industry in which you work.

Regarding the business analysis profession, you must be skilled in the tools, techniques, and best practices related to the business analysis profession. These skills include:

• Interviewing techniques, so you can properly extract business requirements from business users • Writing skills, so you can properly document the findings of your interviews • Presentation skills, so you can present business cases to the stakeholders who are funding your proposed projects • Communication skills, so you can act as the intermediary between IT professionals and business professionals • Political skills, so you can effectively navigate the business potholes within both the business areas and the IT group • Change management skills, to assist the business areas operationalize the new systems being created and/or purchased by IT

Regarding the business area you support, you must understand the jobs they perform and value they provide to the company. For example, if you are supporting the company’s finance function then you should have an understanding of budgeting, financial forecasting, transactional accounting, and the other tasks performed by the Finance Group. Without the understanding it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for you to understand their business requirements and then convert these requirements into a coherent technical specification that that can be used by the software developers building/enhancing the software. Note that this business understanding is equally important if the software is being purchased or simply connected as a cloud-based vendor because you will (or should) be involved in the vendor selection process. Lastly, if you don’t understand the profession of the groups you serve, they are much less likely to take you seriously as their representative to the internal IT group.

Regarding the industry in which you work, with very little exception, each functional area within a company requires special knowledge and customized processes related to the type of work the company performs. For example, the rules and regulations conferred on financial services firms are very different than the regulations within the health care industry. As a result, internal company processes must be tailored to meet the rules of their industry and the needs of their client base. Therefore, as a Business Analyst, knowledge of the business areas you support is not enough, you must also understand these industry-specific nuances of your company’s specific industry to truly be effective.

Lastly, you should also begin building your professional reputation, which I’ll talk about more in a future blog. For now, just know that you should work hard and try your very best. In the long run, the combination of industry knowledge, professional skill, and a great professional reputation will take you far.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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