A long time ago, in my early days as a business analyst, my role had a myriad of definition. Some managers thought of a BA as one who only document requirements, other thought that they documented pseudo-codes and yet others only thought of the business analyst as an assistant role. As some of you may experience, business analysts are usually tossed across a number of functions. Unfortunately, not all these functions lead to the development of true business analysis skills. And if you are looking to build a career as a business analysts, you want to ensure that your effort is spent performing those tasks related to business analysis. A good motivation to keep your experience in alignment with the business analysis standards is to look at the CBAP® (Certified Business Analysis Professional) application process.
What is the CBAP®?
The CBAP® certification is a designation awarded by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) upon successful completion of the CBAP® Exam. The designation is given to Business Analysts who possess a significant amount of experience in the craft (7500 hours where at least 3600 of those hours is evenly distributed among 4 of the 6 knowledge areas). It is a very though exam that challenges even the most experienced business analysts.
In order to sit for the exam, you must go through rigorous application process. It is during this application process that you will have to compare your skills against the standards defined in the Business analysis body of knowledge (BABOK®)
Where to begin?
Though my experience occurred a dozen of years ago, I have talked to many business analysts who currently share the same experience. They are either performing non-related business analysis tasks or they are stuck performing the same business analysis task quite some time. This does not lead to growth in their skill sets.
If you are in the same situation, the first step is to understand what growth within the business analysis career means. Growth within the business analysis profession is the ability to perform all the business analysis tasks and techniques that are commonly used in the business analysis community.
The second step is to compare your experience to these common tasks and techniques. You wan to identify those tasks you have mastered, the tasks that you could improve on, and those that you have never performed.
I was not as fortunate as you are today to receive advice from other business analysts on what to do to improve my career. My growth in business analysis came at my own expense. I had many do-overs, set backs and mountains to climb. I read many books and through trials, I learned by trial and error the business analysis tasks needed to complete a project. I developed my skills through that process. The great news is that you do not have to start at zero to figure out what to do to maximize your skills.
My biggest “aha” moment that helped me determine my career growth occurred when applying for the CBAP®.
When I started categorizing my experience into the tasks defined in the business analysis body of knowledge, I discovered my strengths and my weaknesses.
As I was applying for the CBAP®, I created a simple spreadsheet (see below for download) to help you organize your experience following the standards defined by IIBA®. This exercise will revealed your current experience in business analysis as well as other areas of improvement.
Use it to enter the information for your previous projects. Keep it handy to continuously organize any of your future experiences.
If you are in your career debut as a business analyst, you can certainly benefit from pursuing the CBAP®. You may not be ready to sit for the CBAP® by the end of the year, but you can certainly begin organizing your experience to conform to IIBA® standards. You will develop a baseline for you current skills, which in turn will lead you to determine the best path to take your career to the next level.