how to start a business analyst career
the manual for applying business analysis techniques, selecting training requirements, and exploring job roles that lead to a lucrative tech career
laura brandenburg, cbap
copyright © 2015 laura brandenburg
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the author and publisher. , except for the use of short citations in the review.
How to Start a Business Analyst Career: The Primer for Applying Business Analysis Techniques, Selecting Training Requirements, and Exploring Job Roles that Lead to a Lucrative Tech Career
published by clear spring business analysis llc
the parent company of bridging the gap
To my two daughters, who will inherit the world we create and make it even better.
chapter one: what it’s like to be a business analyst
defined business analysis
a real day at work
there is no typical day
frequently asked questions
chapter two: what you need to know about business analytics
underlying core competencies
business analysis skills
Chapter Three: Extending Your Business Analytics Experience
responsibilities that apply in many work situations
for those in technical roles
for those in business roles
how to reframe your current tasks
when your current organization is not an option
chapter four: connecting with professional business analysts
pay in advance
connect with other professionals at local events
leveraging the connections you already have
conduct informational interviews to deepen connections
or ask a question
how to keep the momentum going
a final word on networking
chapter five: focus on the right business analyst role for you
the company-technology balance
business analytics specializations
hybrid business analyst roles
alternative types of employment
chapter six: your career transition strategy
already a business analyst?
three jumps forward
three ways to make the jump happen
three ways to step before jumping
Chapter Seven: Advancing Your Business Analyst Career Goals
make a plan that will make you act right now
stay open to new opportunities
how to gain momentum
about the author
praise sneak peek on starting a career as a business analyst – second edition
Laura Brandenburg has been involved in helping people become business analysts for years. As she reads How to Start a Business Analysis Career, she feels like she’s speaking directly to you, listening to her woes and offering sound, practical, and actionable advice. there are no pie-in-the-sky theories of how things should be, just simple, usable, honest, real-world descriptions of how things really are in the world of business analysis.
How to Start a Career as a Business Analyst is the touchstone for all readers who wish to enter the profession of business analysis. Laura uses the wonderful artifice of a day in the life of a business analyst to demonstrate what someone anticipating a career as a business analyst might experience in the activities of a normal day. Certainly, after reading Chapter 1, a prospective business analyst will have an idea of whether the job is what she envisioned.
Laura then uses the day in the life as a reference point to discuss the various aspects of being a business analyst: what knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed to be successful as a business analyst, how to use your current experience as a Begin your career as a business analyst and how to gain relevant experience as a business analyst without being a business analyst, how to determine which of the many business analyst roles is right for you, and much more.
I recommend How to Start a Business Analyst Career to anyone considering becoming a business analyst, anyone wanting to change their career to business analytics, any business analyst wanting to refresh themselves in the profession, and any former business . analyst who wants to read a bit of nostalgia for the early days of her career.
~ steve blais, author of business analysis: best practices for success
Starting a career in business analysis is no easy feat. having mentored and coached a number of professionals interested in entering a career in business analysis, I know that for most people it takes a lot of focus and perseverance to get there. Laura’s book provides precise recommendations to help you dramatically reduce the amount of effort and time required to jumpstart his career as a business analyst. If you had to invest in a single resource to help you transition into a highly-paying and rewarding business analyst career, you couldn’t do better than this book.
~ adriana beal, product manager and principal consultant at beal projects llc
Laura has had a unique focus on helping new business analysts enter the profession for several years. When people ask me how do I become a business analyst, I always sigh (inside!) because I’d love to give them a simple guide, but I know it’s complicated, and any answer has to start with it depends. ..
Laura has done the near impossible by providing a path to business analysis through a step-by-step process that anyone can follow.
He has done a great service to the aspiring business analyst community.
~ alex papworth, business analyst and mentor, bamentor.com
I have often said that my career as a business analyst did not choose me, it chose me over many years of trial and error. Having said that, if I had been in possession of this book all those years ago to help me make an informed career decision, I probably would have chosen business analysis as a career.
Let’s face it, most of us can’t afford to be independently wealthy, let alone have career opportunities that actually match what we went to school for. As our careers progress, most of us travel from job to job hoping that the next move we make will feel good or fill a missing void in our lives. Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Are you fulfilling that dream today? Wouldn’t it be great to make an informed professional decision for a change?
what a wonderful gift you can get with this book, which will help you decide if business analysis is the right career path for you. the world needs many more business analysts. How to Start a Career as a Business Analyst will guide you, or someone you know, on your journey to becoming a business analyst.
enjoy the read and best of luck in your future business analytics career!
~ bob the ba (aka bob prentiss)
professionals around the world seek opportunities in the field of business analytics to grow and revitalize their careers. On starting a career as a business analyst, Laura Brandenburg combines her deep working knowledge of business analysis with a passion for helping aspiring business analysts to provide an excellent resource for identifying and navigating the path to a successful career in analysis. of business. Practical, principle-based, and easy to read and use, professionals of any background or professional level looking for an opportunity in business analysis will benefit from this book.
~ jonathan babcock, jabian consultant and editor at practicalanalyst.com
This latest installment of Laura Brandenburg’s books on starting and advancing your business analytics career will help not only those contemplating a business analytics career, but also those young in their business analytics career. businesses to catapult your career to greater heights. This is a testament to Laura’s experience and passion for business analysis and helping others advance her career in business analysis.
Laura uses the Business Analytics® Body of Knowledge (BABOK®) Guide, the Business Analytics Competency Model, and over a decade of experience to help others understand what business analysts do and how to build a successful business business analysis career. This book helps you understand how to use his experience in other business areas to transition into business analysis above entry level positions. not only outlines how to develop your individual strategy for transitioning your career into business analytics, but also outlines how to keep up with trends in the business analytics space by connecting with others in the profession and Leverage those relationships to advance your career.
I highly recommend this book to those interested in a career in business analysis and those who wish to take their career to new places. I’m sure you’ll find it a valuable resource.
~ Aaron Whittenberger, CBAP, Regional Director, Americas East Region, International Institute for Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Over the past few years, I’ve worked with all kinds of clients, and I’ve noticed a pattern. More and more, like most organizations, they need faster product delivery, want super-efficient practices, and most of all, pursue the relentless goal of delivering customer value. at the same time, they are faced with a multitude of practical problems.
First, the products are complex and therefore expensive to build and maintain.
Second, customers are becoming smarter and more demanding.
Third, requirements risk continues to be the most insidious challenge in any development effort.
and then there’s the fourth practical problem: people.
products are discovered and delivered by teams of human beings whose best work comes from healthy collaboration. but that does not happen spontaneously. people need to learn how to systematically plan and analyze the product at a high level while also delving into the details.
Central to these issues is the need to specify product requirements, the basis for development and delivery. While the technologies are getting better and better, the requirements remain a puzzle: you need to know them, but they are excruciatingly difficult to obtain and accept. Requirements will always be, to paraphrase Fred Brooks, the hardest part of any development effort.
at the heart of this challenge live the professionals who work as business analysts. To help organizations respond to these challenges, I have written three books: Collaborative Requirements: Defining Needs Workshops, The Software Requirements Memory Corridor, and most recently, Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis with Mary gorman. In addition, as the founder and director of ebg consulting, I have worked with global clients and spoken at numerous industry conferences, connecting with hundreds of professionals in business analysis and related disciplines.
I have served as an expert reviewer for the International Institute for Business Analysis (IIBA) Body of Knowledge on Business Analysis® (BABOK®) and as a reviewer for the PMI® Business Analysis Practical Guide. I have also been a member of the committee that created the babok agile extension, the iiba®-supported education provider committee, the executive steering committee that oversaw what became the project management institute (pmi) business analysis professional designation -pba℠), and I have served on the board of the International Requirements Engineering Board® (IREB).
Through it all, what I’ve observed time and time again is that to be a great business analyst you need a high tolerance for ambiguity and a simultaneous drive for specificity.
Although business analysis is much better known as a profession than in years past and you have many resources to help you succeed in your job, the path to becoming a business analyst and thriving in a business analyst career it is not well defined. Consider Starting a Career as a Business Analyst, your guide to finding the best path forward in the profession.
The first edition sold thousands of copies. Now, author Laura Brandenburg has revised and updated the book to educate readers about recent changes affecting the profession. Examples include the introduction of PMI’s CCBA® and PBA℠ and the expansion of labor market roles that require business analysis competencies. The book that she holds in her hands (or on her e-book reading device) is the most comprehensive guide available for creating a plan of action to launch a career as a business analyst.
laura brandenburg and i initially connected in 2009, spoke on the phone several times, shared each other’s work online, and finally met in person at the entrepreneurship development conference in 2013. she is well known within the business analytics community as a leader in helping talented mid-career professionals launch successful careers in business analytics. My favorite thing about her writing is how accessible the material is. Reading this book is like chatting with a trusted friend, offering practical advice in an intimate yet professional way.
His advice ranges from finding a job to considerations for telecommuting and getting involved in decision-making. Although his focus is to start in the business analyst role, the strong foundation he recommends is easy to build and could lead to many future roles, such as coach, consultant, product owner, and product or project manager.
Key things to keep in mind: As you read this book and work through the implementation exercises, you will find that:
You will become familiar with what a business analyst does, how your days will flow, and how your skills will be put to good use. I am honored that Laura has taken up my suggestion to include an actual sample workday that illustrates many of the less tangible skills that business analysts need to be successful in their jobs.
You already have more relevant experience than you might think, which can broaden the possibilities open to you within the business analysis profession.
You can apply business analysis techniques at this point, using one of the many ideas Laura suggests in Chapter 3.
Be guided by Laura’s descriptions of the most common types of business analyst roles rather than be stumped by the variety of skills and experiences required by today’s job descriptions.
You are ready to take action and realize your career goals using simple planning techniques and momentum-building strategies.
I enjoyed Laura’s story about the roses in Chapter 2 and the accompanying reminder to pay attention to what’s in front of you, especially your own strengths. I also appreciated the questions you’ve interspersed throughout the book.
Laura’s style and stories reflect two of the greatest skills that every business analyst must develop: the best analysts are a) keen observers and b) ask very good questions, from a place of genuine curiosity, using the mind of the beginner (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/shoshin).
don’t miss chapter 4 pay-in-advance. It’s not just good advice, it’s good karma. You may also want to pay close attention to Laura’s great interview tips and her emphasis on the importance of getting involved, attending events, and connecting. In our digital world, it’s more important than ever to add a personal touch to your job search and everyday work.
I highly recommend How to Start a Business Analyst Career to any professional looking to start a business analysis career. If you are a project manager, software developer, technical writer, business expert, quality assurance professional, or otherwise employed and interested in business analysis, this is the first book to read when beginning your trip.
The book is particularly relevant to those who have been in the workforce for at least a few years, as you will most likely find that you have related experience to draw upon. don’t worry if you currently think that’s not the case. Laura explains exactly how to assess your own experience and expand your skills.
Although the book focuses on the role of a business analyst in the context of a software project, you don’t need a technical background to be successful. As you read the book, you’ll discover ways to learn more about the technical concepts you need to know to have a rewarding and prosperous career as a business analyst.
read it. enjoy it. to benefit from.
With kind regards,
president/founder, ebg consulting
Since I started writing about business analysis more than five years ago, the most common question I get is how to get started in the business analysis profession. the way is not clear. no degree will guarantee that you will find employment in a business analyst position. no job prequalifies you to become a business analyst. No matter what you see in the job postings, technology expertise is not undeniably necessary and neither is experience in a specific business domain. What’s more, few junior-level business analyst jobs exist and are reserved for recent college grads willing to accept entry-level salaries.
however, every year professionals with experience in other occupations begin careers in business analysis. however, they do not start at the bottom. they jump right in the middle and sometimes go right into higher level roles.
with the average US business analyst salary topping $90,000 per year (www.bridging-the-gap.com/business-analyst-salary), we are seeing more and more talented, experienced professionals pursue business analyst jobs. It’s not uncommon for a high-level business analyst to earn a six-figure salary, and consultants, team leads, and managers do even better. You’ll often find business analytics at the top of hot job lists, though commonly under other titles like systems analyst, management consultant, and process analyst. Whatever you call us, it’s clear that business analysis is becoming a profitable and sought-after profession.
See also: Revolutionizing Customer Service