Although many of us constantly worry about the career fortunes of our children and become preoccupied with our day to day work issues, too few of us take a step back and consider how we can develop our own careers.
Here, the Business Alchemist revisits the notion of a ‘business analysis career’ and shares the ten top tips gleaned from many years in the field.
- Consider the wider context to your role. A good place to start is by considering the positioning of your role and career. Where are you in the bigger scheme of things? The BA Maturity Model (BAMM) provides an ideal canvass upon which to map both your current role and career aspirations, e.g. could the scope and authority of your role increase and how might you achieve this? The BAMM provides an ideal starting point for planning your next career steps.
- Character of your role. You might also consider the character of your role. The “third wave of business analysis” outlines the changing character of the BA role and formed the basis of a keynote speech by Debbie Paul at the European BA conference in 2015.
It’s important to remember that there are no rights or wrongs here. It’s more a question of where you are most comfortable operating and can deliver the most value. The idea of a “trusted adviser” is a good title to aspire to.
- Planning ahead. Very few people set firm career objectives. Best estimates are that perhaps only 1 in 50 people have a defined career plan. However, it is worth remembering that beginning with the end in mind means that you have an objective to aim for. It also means that your subconscious will be alerted when new development opportunities arise that support your objectives.
- Assess your skills mix. The best place to start when evaluating your skills, and the potential areas that need development, is to assess them by using three categories; personal, business and professional. You may be strong in certain areas, but could you improve in others? Many surveys reveal that for business analysts, personal skills are held in high regard, but this can often be a neglected area of self-development. It is important that BAs continually challenge themselves about whether they have the right balance of skills – and address any gaps in their skill set.
- Assess your range of skills. Many people don’t appreciate the full range of skills that can form part of the BA toolkit. Reference to SFIA or use of a career planning tool can provide an invaluable insight into the full range of skills that BAs can develop and use in successful careers. https://www.assistkd.com/knowledge-hub/assistkd-business-analysis-career... Many business analysts also look at other professions to gather skills that are applicable in the BA field.
- Certification. When I visit my optician I am re-assured by the relevant degree certificate framed on the wall of the consultation room. Certification gives me confidence in their ability and shows they have achieved a required level of competence. It tells me that my eyes are in good hands. Should it be any different for the BA profession? How serious are we about our career? Do we want to work to accepted standards with a common language and consistency of approach?
- Solving business problems and taking risks. Ask high flyers what has contributed most to their career success and they will almost certainly put tackling challenging business problems and taking risks (stepping into new roles) close to the top of their list. Taking on difficult business problems will not always end in complete success but if you adopt a rigorous, professional approach you are likely to enhance your reputation, gain wider exposure and develop habits consistent with organisational leadership.
- Consider your personal branding. Be aware of and constantly reinforce your personal branding. Your ‘brand’ will include the values you work to and the personal qualities and attitude you demonstrate. The surest test of personal branding is what people say about you when you walk out of the room.
- The career sweet spot. You’ll find your personal ‘sweet spot’ when you’re performing work you enjoy, using your strongest skills to good effect and working to the values you hold dear. When all these factors combine in a single role you have achieved a career sweet spot. If you haven’t found this yet, then it’s worth considering the work you enjoy most and asking yourself if you are being true to your values. There may also be skills and attributes you need to develop before you take on your dream role, and reference to Points 1-8 above may help you in your quest.
- Think beyond BA . Business analysis opens doors to other roles and careers. A five-minute trawl of LinkedIn reveals the following roles that BAs have stepped into in recent years. The BA role offer plenty of future career opportunities. This means that you don’t have to be a BA for life - although there are lot worse things you could be!