Events,  General Musings,  IIBA

A celebration of Business Analysts for Global BA Day

Let’s start with a quote from this year’s European Business Analyst of the Year…

What I enjoy most about being a Business Analyst; I could really talk at length on this topic! To keep it short and sweet, every day I encounter new challenges and get to work alongside great people, helping to solve problems and make improvements. There is something very gratifying about this – particularly when I get to see the impact I have had!

Rebecca Richmond-Smith – European Business Analyst of the Year 2021 (Click to visit Rebecca’s LinkedIn profile)

The makeup of a Business Analyst

Well, if you can’t celebrate being a Business Analyst on Global BA Day when can you?!

And as a self-confessed BA nerd (which I may have mentioned before!), this is the perfect day for me. Who knew the people at IIBA had come up with a whole day to celebrate my chosen career, lifestyle and overall nature…

Why do I include lifestyle and nature here, well put simply, it’s because BAs have inherent traits in their nature that make them ideal for the role…

Calm, unassuming, good listeners and at times self-deprecating. In short, they have great emotional intelligence. If you’ve ever come across a BA in your line of work you’ll understand what I mean.

Oh, and of course, they are great at analysing, assessing and problem-solving!

Once you’ve worked with a BA, you’ll find you can’t work without them. Or to put it another way, when they are no longer there, you will miss having that someone who can think logically and gain understanding from chaos, simply by asking the right questions.

(Perhaps I should add modest to the list of BA traits!)

In truth, a Business Analyst is often underrated within their workplace, they tend to slip into the background. Quite often, no one sees or even understands that a BA is at the heart of many key developments, business change or business transformation.

This seldom understood fact of how we operate is partly caused by us, because we tend to stay in the shadows …perhaps it could even be said we seem to like being anonymous.

Our covert nature is even more obscured by the many different names for the role.

(There are other reasons too, but I’ll save that for another blog post.)

Over a 30 year career as a BA, I’ve seen the role grow in importance to where it is now. Where almost every system development team boasts a BA, those that don’t tend to include an analysis related function (i.e. a covert BA!)

BAs also infiltrate organisations at all levels and are just as comfortable working within strategy alongside enterprise and Business Architects of an organisation, as well as within business and technology change (in fact, many Business Architects will have come from a BA background).

When Agile development came along and developers and customers came closer together, we were supposedly no longer needed, it was the death of Business Analysis…

Pah! Far from it!

Instead, Business Analysis has increased in importance and spawned other linked roles, such as product owners, user researchers, content writers and many more. Thus proving the importance of business-related roles in development, which are thriving like never before.

So let’s hear it for Business Analysts everywhere!

A celebration of (Amazing!) Business Analysts

For Global BA Day, and when writing this blog, I was considering what I liked most about being a BA and what my biggest frustration was. With lots of likes and (to be honest) not many lasting frustrations, here’s what I settled on:

  • Loves: The role allows me to be myself and to use my natural abilities in my day-to-day job. I love the interaction and collaboration with other people to solve business problems, often getting the best out of others. There is also so much scope to learn and grow as a BA. After 30 years, I am still learning new techniques and new ways of approaching people and problems …and I love that!
  • Frustration: One big frustration is that it’s not always seen as a skilled role. This has certainly been true in the past, though thankfully is becoming less so. It takes a particular type of person to become a good BA, it can’t be done by just anyone.

The thoughts and musings from fellow BAs

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to meet many amazing Business Analysts I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask a few of them what they love about the role and what frustrates them about the role.

This is what they said…

Julia Newell

Loves: That a BA is considered a specialist and provides a service to a project. No two days are ever really the same. Cliched I know but stakeholders have ups and downs, technical requirements keep changing, to-ing and fro-ing between different parts of the company and you’ve got to keep pulling threads to understand problems. You really do need to be a powerhouse to keep all the plates spinning …that sounds a bad thing, but I really enjoy that aspect and even more so when it all comes together and you’ve been part of the team that’s delivered that change!

Frustration: A lot of the above!! Also, the fact you have to develop a thick skin to deal with many of the situations and sometimes when least expected! How, when things go wrong, it’s usually the BAs fault because there were ‘missed requirements’…yet we’re often overlooked when things go well. Or is that the BA’s fault for not blowing their own trumpet enough?!

Julia Newell – IIBAUK Community Director for Scotland & North and Co-Founder of BALIFE (Click to visit Julia’s LinkedIn profile)

Lauren Howes

Loves: Being inquisitive by nature, I have found a profession where I have been able to use this trait to my advantage and it has become a key strength in helping others solve complex business problems. For me I have relished in the passion the BA community has in developing its next generation of BAs and the enthusiasm so many have to pass forward their successes. I am proud to be a member of such an inclusive, encouraging and diverse community.

Lauren Howes – Founder of Young Business Analysts (YBA) (Click to visit Lauren’s LinkedIn profile)

Adrian Reed

Loves: One of the many things I love about Business Analysis is the breadth and variety. The role can encompass anything from strategic analysis, pre-project analysis, detailed requirements, understanding benefits and outcomes and much more besides!

Frustration: That’s a tougher one! I think one thing about BAs is that we’re usually quite happy to let others take the credit, but this does mean that the profession doesn’t always get the recognition that it deserves. So perhaps that counts as a frustration?

Adrian Reed – Principal Consultant and Director at Blackmetric Business Solutions (Click to visit Adrian’s LinkedIn profile)

Liz Calder

Loves: My strapline for the job I do is ‘Professional Nosey Parker”. I love getting under the bonnet of how organisations work, making order out of the inevitable complexity that builds over time and find out from people what they do and how they think it could be better – really getting to the root of a problem, not just sticking with the surface appearance. Technology is a means to an end; the overall goal is making people’s lives easier and then happier.

Liz Calder – President of IIBA UK (Click to visit Liz’s LinkedIn profile)

hmmm, “Professional Nosey Parker”?! Maybe I should have lead with that!!

Debra Paul

Loves: I believe that Business Analysis is vital for any situation. This is because the fundamental principles focus on uncovering root causes and achieving desired outcomes. The toolkit and skillset are extensive and adaptable and provide a basis for analytical thinking and challenging assumptions. With so many business (and personal) situations needing these skills, what is not to love about being a BA?

Frustration: My frustrations arise when Business Analysis is dismissed or unacknowledged, and the professional respect that should be in place is missing. The resultant focus on delivering a product rather than achieving business outcomes is an issue that effective Business Analysis could overcome but recognition needs to be there. Too often this is not the case.

Debra Paul – Managing Director AssistKD (Click to visit Debra’s LinkedIn profile)

Sandra Briant

Loves: The variety in terms of skills, activities, subject matter, detail, people and places (well before COVID). You get to learn what other people do, you get to see how it all fits together and you get to help improve things which can make life very interesting and very rewarding.

Frustration: is not being included in the key conversations early enough. You lose context, you don’t get the opportunity to help shape the approach and you can end up needing to panic learn how we got to where we are.

Sandra Briant – BA at Aldermore Bank Plc (Click to visit Sandra’s LinkedIn profile)

A final word from a new Business Analyst

During my time as a BA, I’ve been privileged to work with and nurture many people that have chosen Business Analysis as their career. It’s always great to work with new and enthusiastic people. Here are the thoughts of one rising star that has recently joined the BA community on why she decided to become a BA.

My interest in Business Analysis stems from an early interest in business and when I started working at Registers of Scotland (ROS) the opportunities I created for myself through working with senior management and senior Business Analysts ignited my desire to be involved in the Business Analyst community and progressing with a long-term career as a BA.

My first glimpse of anything from the BA community was something so simple… Miro boards! To begin with, it was a shiny tool then I was shown, when used properly we can work collaboratively wherever we are using tools like this.

I was involved in the early process mapping, creating multi-disciplinary team’s and had an insight into the bigger picture. From these early days, I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a Business Analyst.

Emma Simpson – Junior Business Analyst Registers of Scotland (Click to visit Emma’s LinkedIn profile)

Thank you to Emma and all quote contributors. I think it’s fair to say (without any bias whatsoever), BAs rock!