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Professional Development for the Business Analyst

By Abbey Hellickson, M.Ed, Workforce Development Specialist, Rochester Community and Technical College

Rochester Community and Technical College’s (RCTC) Center for Business and Workforce Education, located in Rochester, Minnesota, has embarked on a three year project to develop and deliver curriculum for the business analyst. The project is funded by a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program Grant. This program’s purpose is to work strategically with businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers for the role. The grant funds are used to offset training-related expenses incurred by business and educational institutions necessary to meet current and future workforce needs. This grant was the catalyst in bringing RCTC together with a large healthcare employer to design and develop an educational program for business analysts.

Upon receiving the grant, RCTC and the business partner selected instructors for the project. The partnership searched for individuals who had business analyst expertise, preferably a Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) certification, and had teaching experience. After the instructional team was selected the curriculum development work began.

RCTC’s Center for Business and Workforce Education has adopted the ADDIE (Analyze Design Develop Implement Evaluate) model as part of the curriculum development process; the project will be described within the framework of this model. The first step RCTC included was an analysis of the need for developing this training. The analysis sought to diagnose the employer performance requirements for the business analyst position and identified a need for consistent, standardized terminology and methodology across the organization. This theme became the focus for the curriculum.

Upon completion of the analysis, the design phase began. The design phase included the creation of strategies that would allow participants to gain the desired expertise. The instructional team discussed how to achieve the goal of standardization through the curriculum. They determined that adopting A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) as the standardized resource was a best practice. The team also focused on adult learning techniques that included: case studies, scenario discussions, and group projects. The instructional team also had to determine how to break down the vast field of business analysis into smaller sequential components that would be appropriate to teach as a topical course. The team determined the following courses were needed:
  • Introduction to Business Analysis
  • Elicitation 
  • Requirements Analysis
  • Requirements Communication and Management
  • Planning and Monitoring 
  • Solutions Assessment and Validation 
  • Enterprise Analysis
The instructional team completed the design phase and quickly moved into development. The development phase included the development of both instructor and participant materials. The instructional team worked closely with the business partner in reviewing outlines and materials to ensure desired needs were met that aligned with the organizational culture. The curriculum contains situations, scenarios and discussion topics that revolve around real world situations participants encounter within their organization.

Finally, implementation began. In this project, implementation of developed curriculum occurred simultaneously with the development of the next course. The implementation required the business partner to recruit participants into the program. An application process was created and participants were selected into the classes based on specified criteria. Once approved, applicants committed to attend all courses and supervisory approval was required. The courses were delivered during work hours and were held each month for seven months.

RCTC and the business partner closely evaluated this program. Participant evaluations in the form of a survey and open response formats were conducted throughout the program. The business partner and RCTC’s instructional team met to conduct lessons learned throughout and after program completion. RCTC then took this feedback and reworked the program to make it align closer to the needs of the employer. Due to grant funding, this program was offered twice.  The first offering ran from 2009 to 2010 and the second offering begins in October 2011.

The employer has seen positive benefits from this program and is beginning to see consistencies in the business analysis role throughout their organization. The goal after the grant project is completed is to maintain the relationship that was developed and to continue to provide quality education in this field. To achieve this goal Rochester Community and Technical College will develop a credit based certificate program for business analysis.