6 ways to succeed as a new business analyst

I just accepted a new job as a Junior Business Analyst. What things should I do to make sure that I do well in my new position?

First, congratulations on the new job! Regarding your question, you are already doing a number of the right things toward a successful start. First, you seem very motivated to do well. Certainly, you must have the right skills and natural abilities, but having the desire to do well is crucially important. I have seen many hard workers with moderate abilities significantly outpace those with greater natural abilities but with a lack of interest and motivation in their job. Second, you are willing to ask questions, seek advice, and presumably take this advice to heart. Third, you are trying to keep abreast of what is going on in your industry. I am assuming this to be the case because if you were not doing so, you would not have found my blog in ITworld which led you to me.

Other activities that can enhance your first year’s job performance include the following:

1. Ascertain what software development methodologies are being used within your IT shop and learn them. For example, if your company’s standard software development methodology is Agile/Scrum, then, if available, take an internal class on it. If your company does not provide this type of training, learn it on your own. At a minimum, there are great YouTube videos on the topic as well as MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses), free webinars, and low cost training classes. Additionally, if your company offers tuition reimbursement, look for a night class on the topic as there is the potential that your company will pay for it.

2. Determine what other types of industry best practices are being implemented within IT and learn those also. These other industry methodologies may include ITIL, Six Sigma, or Lean. Similar to software development methodologies previously discussed, there is an enormous amount of free and low cost information you can find on the internet to gain familiarity with these best practices.

3. Find an internal role model. Being new to the company, it’s important for you to quickly learn what knowledge, skills and behaviors are appreciated within your specific department, within IT, and your company as a whole. This knowledge will help guide your actions in a direction that is consistent with your organization’s internal culture and informal code of conduct.

4. Watch and learn about the company’s internal politics. I’m not suggesting becoming a political animal, I’m simply saying that you should understand your company’s internal employee behavior. This includes what projects are most viable, parts of IT most susceptible to lay off, managers who are good or not good to their staff, and other similar office happenstance. This knowledge has the dual benefits of helping you stay clear of internal political land mines as well has position you for long term professional success.

5. Try to learn what criteria are used to rate employee performance. This information also has a dual benefit. First, it provides you with the roadmap needed to assure a good quality review. That is to say, you can guide your actions toward meeting the specific categories listed on the performance review. For example, if it has a category related to “Quality Internal Client Service”, work hard to maximize the client satisfaction of those to whom you are providing service.

6. As a Business Analyst, gain a deep understanding of both the business area you support and technologies used to bring their software application to life. This could be Java and Oracle if the software is being developed in-house or it could be a cloud-based product like Salesforce if you are implementing a cloud-based application.

In closing, the previous six suggestions all have a similar theme. This common thread is not to simply live within the task you have been assigned. You must, of course, perform your required assignments to the best of your ability. Additionally, however, you should also look around you to gain an understanding of how success is best achieved within your organization and what skills and knowledge will help you grow professionally.

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

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

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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