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Developing a Business Analyst Class

By Sandy Finke, CBAP, Assistant Vice President of Fifth Third Bank

As I studied for my Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) test in 2009, I came across information in A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) that was new to me.  I asked myself, “Why is it that I have 10 years of BA experience and did not know this information?”  After giving it some thought, I came to the conclusion that it was because I was self-taught. I currently manage a team of seven BAs that supports four different areas. Some of these BAs are high level and others are new to the role BUT each one is self-taught. Funding for training was limited, so after searching for affordable classes for my team to no avail, I decided to create my own.

I began with researching the BABOK® Guide, IIBA® Online Library, and actually purchasing some books I found to be very helpful and informative. The process that worked for me was to begin by creating an outline of what I wanted to teach. This led to the creation of the PowerPoint slides, class workbooks, Facilitator’s Guide, and a Resource Guide. The books I used for reference were:
  • Getting It Right – Business Requirement Analysis Tools and Techniques by Kathleen B. Hass, PMP
  • More About Software Requirements – Thorny Issues and Practical Advice by Karl E. Wiegers
  • Scenarios, Stories, Use Cases Through the System Development Life Cycle by Ian F. Alexander and Neil Maiden
  • Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis by Barbara A. Carkenord, MBA, CBAP
  • The Business Analyst’s Handbook by Howard Podeswa
I began the class by asking two questions. The first was what is the difference between a Business Analyst and a Project Manager? The second question was what traits make a good Business Analyst? These questions were discussed and answered during the class by introducing the BABOK® Guide knowledge areas, techniques, tricks, and tools that can enhance their ability to accomplish their goals. 

We reviewed each of the knowledge areas, what they meant, and their functions. Tools were reviewed and their functions discussed on how and when to use them for various projects. Along with the knowledge areas and tools, some great tips and checklists were provided by both the BABOK® Guide and Howard Podeswa’s book. These included:
  • Identifying your Stakeholders
  • Roles for Stakeholders
  • Eliciting Requirements
  • Change Control Features
  • Selecting a Solution Provider
Additional tips were provided on how to effectively manage situations that could arise throughout their project:
  • What to do when a Participant(s) Can’t or Won’t Show
  • The Use of the “Seven Rs”
  • The Five Keys to Requirements Management
  • Managing Risk
We also reviewed the different stages throughout a project, documents to be used, and project life cycle methodologies. The final portion of the class was a Use Case/Scenario Workshop. In the first half of the workshop I taught what a Use Case and Scenario are, and the various types of Use Cases. We then broke into small groups and created Use Cases and Scenarios addressing a number of different situations. I created various “quizzes” in the form of a crossword puzzle, word search puzzle, and word scramble that were given throughout the class. 

After my team and a few other BAs completed the class, the main takeaway received was that it needed to be more interactive, similar to the workshop. I also was asked to create more in-depth classes on specific topics. Senior Management requested that I teach this to all BAs in our division. Using the feedback I received, I made changes to the class and taught two more classes, both of which received positive feedback. On a continued basis, the class material will be revised as updates occur. Based on the feedback received, I plan to develop additional classes on specific topics, such as Business Requirements.