Starting Business Analysis Work
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Questions to Ask & Where to Get Support
When you’re just starting out in a business analysis career or an initiative there are so many things to consider. This provides a starting point while recognizing that everyone is different, roles and initiatives vary, and everything can change.
What is Your Role?
If you’re newly hired, then you probably have a job description. Unfortunately, many job descriptions are recycled or outdated, don’t reflect day-to-day activity, requirements might not be accurate or be reflective of the need, specifics may be lacking, and the hiring manager may not know what is needed or the role or initiative could be changing. Glassdoor research shows 61% of employees say the realities of their new job differ from expectations set during the interview process. So, what do you do? Ask for clarification whenever you’re in doubt. Ask your team if there is a Roles & Permissions Matrix in BABOK® Guide that incorporates your role and if not, it should be added.
Who are Your Stakeholders?
BABOK® Guide Glossary defines “a stakeholder is a group or individual with a relationship to the change, the need, or the solution,” BABOK® Guide Glossary on IIBA’s KnowledgeHub is a also a great point of reference to understand technology and acronyms.
Talk to your manager, team leader, project manager, scrum master, product owner, subject matter expert, and initiative sponsor, etc. You can create a Stakeholder List or Map. You may also be responsible for Stakeholder Analysis, including defining groups and identifying stakeholders, analyzing stakeholders, and maintaining stakeholders. One of the best ways to learn about your stakeholders is to interview them. At the end of the interview, it’s helpful to ask, “Is there anyone else I should speak to?”
Is There a Plan?
You may be joining a team with an initiative already underway. Ask to see any business analysis information, including plans (if there aren’t any, this is where you’ll want to start):
- Business Analysis Plan
- Stakeholder Engagement Plan
- Governance Plan
- Information Management Plan
- Elicitation Activity Plan (Depending on where they are in the initiative, this might be where you start)
What’s the Approach?
In recent IIBA workshops, participants indicated that approximately half of them are using a hybrid approach, with agile and plan-driven (waterfall) each accounting for 25%. Once you know the approach, you’ll be able to “Understand What Needs to be Done”.
Are the Requirements and Designs Defined?
If you’re replacing someone midstream then some or all of the requirements and designs may be done. What you’ll need to do is to confirm what state they’re in, are they validated, prioritized, and approved? And what do you need to do to maintain them?
Starting out Isn’t Easy
If you consider yourself a business analysis professional, then it’s guaranteed you like to ask questions and the best time to ask is when you’re starting out. It is critical that you understand the people and their roles, as well as the requirements and designs. What may also help is to follow the Business Analysis Core Concept Model (BACCM) – it contains six concepts to keep you on track, because if you know these and how they relate to each other within every initiative, you’re good to go.
It may also help to keep the definition of Business Analysis in mind: “The practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.”
Explore IIBA’s KnowledgeHub
Join IIBA to get access to IIBA’s KnowledgeHub, your online destination with practical, actionable business analysis content. It provides IIBA Members with unlimited searchable access to the BABOK® Guide, community-driven content, templates, tools and resources, and much more that can be applied to your everyday business analysis practices.
To learn more about IIBA’s KnowledgeHub visit IIBA.org/AccessToAnalysis.
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About The Author:
Catherine Elder has played an integral role in digital transformation initiatives designing content strategies and leading content creation for over twenty years. She has practiced business analysis as a consultant and has further relied on the discipline throughout her marketing career. She is currently responsible for IIBA's Product Development Content Strategy.