Starting a New Business Analyst Job – 5 Things to Do First

Starting a New Business Analyst Job – 5 Things to Do First


This is Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the
Gap. We’re in an exciting space right now in
business analysis and we’ve been getting lots and lots of emails from people who have
just started their first or next business analyst job. We wanted to record a video to talk about
what do you do first when you’re starting a new role as a business analyst. So, let’s jump right in. There are five things that I think you want
to be thinking about when you’re starting a new role. Some of these might not actually be what you
would maybe expect. The first thing is you want to understand
the role that your employer wants filled. It’s easy for us as business analysts to
have some sort of expectations or assumptions about what our roles should be, and for that
to really conflict with what is really important to your hiring manager, or project manager,
or the person that you’re reporting to. You want to make sure that, first and foremost,
you understand what they most need you to be successful at. What’s the biggest problem that they hired
you to solve, and how can you make an impact quickly? So, make sure that you understand that and
allow yourself to be flexible at first if you need to be, even if it doesn’t meet
quite the expectation you had as a business analyst. The second thing is to understand the core
processes and templates in place in your organization. You want to know if there’s a specific kind
of document that is being created. Do you create business process flows and use
cases, or do you create more traditional business requirements documents, or do you, maybe,
even create agile user stories and a product backlog? What are the templates and processes in place
in the organization, and how does business analysis, or whatever that flavor of business
analysis you’re doing, how does that typically work? That’s going to, again, help you get started
off on the right track. On a few cases, you might be the first business
analyst. It’s up to you to figure that out. In which case, start with some industry standard
practices and bring those to your organization. And our Business Analyst Template Toolkit
is a great starting resource if your organization doesn’t have any existing templates to use. The next thing, we’ve talked about understanding
your role, and those core processes and templates in place. The third thing to do is get to know your
stakeholders. You want to be looking for stakeholders both
on the business side and the technology side. You want to get to know the business domain,
the business process, how the business looks at technology, and what is important to all
levels of the business. From end users all the way up to hiring managers,
managers, directors, some cases even VPs who are the sponsor of a project. In a small organization, you might be working
directly with the CEO, who’s the sponsor of a project. Stakeholders, meaning all levels of stakeholders. And, those on the technology side. Who are your lead contacts that can help you
understand the technology stack that’s in place, what’s already implemented, what’s
the potential opportunities provided by those tools so that you can make sure you’re helping
the business leverage the technology in the best possible way. With those three things in place, or even
as you’re getting those three things in place, you want to be focused on the fourth
thing, which is making an immediate positive impact. Whatever that role is, whatever that first
project is, how can you, essentially, hit the ground running and make a big important
impact? This can be frustrating because sometimes
you might be hired in the middle of a project and you’ll be picking up somebody else’s
requirements document and trying to answer questions around it. You might even come in a lot later in the
project and be asked to start with the testing, the user acceptance testing with the business,
or even just testing yourself against things that you didn’t write the requirements for. Sometimes you really do just have to jump
into where the organization is with that project and make an impact. That’s how you’re going to prove your
value. You’re going to prove your skill set, you’re
going to earn your reputation in that organization. That’s going to pave the way for all kinds
of career opportunities to come forward. If you don’t make the impact first, it can
be hard to create the exact role that you want to have created. Make sure that whatever that first project
is, that you’re making that investment in making it a positive impact and being successful
in the context of how your organization defines success. Then, that’s step 5, with that clear win
under your belt, with that sense of reputation, and trust that you’ve built with those stakeholders
and that you do what you say you’re going to do in that you can really have an impact
on their team. Then you can start bringing in “best practices.” If you see a gap in the business analysis
process, maybe your team jumps right in and focuses on the functional requirements and
you know that you can do a much better job if you started and focused on some of the
business process and workflow diagrams, and things like that. Maybe there are certain stakeholder groups
that aren’t involved at all and you can get involved in bringing them in and expanding
who’s communicated with around a technology project or a business process improvement
effort. Whatever that best practice is that you see
having an impact in your organization, after your first win is the time to take that first
step forward and say, “Okay, I see how things went this time. One of the biggest challenges we had with
this project was…(whatever it was). This is what I’m going to do next time to
help improve that.” So, you’re continually bringing those best
practices. You can rinse and repeat that again, and again,
as you form a business analyst role in a specific organization. But it all starts with those first four steps
– understanding the role, understanding the templates and processes in place, earning
the trust and respect of those stakeholders, and creating that first win. Then you can continue to evolve and bring
in more best practices and evolve the role of the organization. I would love to hear from you if you have
started a role recently, or if you’re one of our veterans that has a ton of experience
as well. What have you found to be the best things
to do when you get started in any organization? Any tips or crazy stories that maybe would
help somebody else, please go ahead and leave those below. Again, my name is Laura Brandenburg, from
Bridging the Gap. We help professionals like you get started
in business analyst careers.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

8 Comments

  1. Hello, Could you make a video on what kind of questions one can ask at the end of a BA interview and what to mention to the interviewer to make a strong impression at the end of the interview.

  2. Good evening, this was a great and insightful video. I am a tech trainer and citrix administrator and have an interview coming this week, what can I do to leverage those skills in the interview?

  3. I'm from a server tech role being offered a ba role the way you described this makes me think I'm in over my head, wish me luck.

  4. Hi laura, my current role is administrative assistant and being a Business Analyst was always my dream job. And i did subscribe to you blog and i received your emails but its only now i am able to know more about you after looking at your youtube videos.

  5. Hello.. these videos are really interesting.
    I am working as a QA since 4 years and would like to find opportunities in BA role.
    Please let me how to make resume appealing.

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