In the spirit of the football season, I wanted to begin this blog post with a quote from famed Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi: “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
I think the same could be said about good business analysts. Business analysts are made (through training and effort), not born. While rising demand for BAs has led many universities to begin offering majors in Business Analysis and related fields, the same combination of factors is also causing many people who have little or no formal BA training to be thrust into the role.
A person may be considered a competent BA for many reasons. One of the best BAs that I have worked with used her familiarity with the organization to help her drive requirements gathering toward successful completion. She knew how to negotiate between different stakeholder groups and knew just who to ask to get her questions answered.
There is no doubt that having in-depth knowledge of the organization is an asset to a BA. But that is also the problem with this method. By definition, this kind of familiarity takes a long time to develop and cannot be easily imparted on to other BAs. If you have it, great, but not everyone will, and it takes a long time to develop.
Other competent BAs possess great communication skills. They know the right questions to ask and can think quickly on their feet. Still others can use their technical knowledge to identify issues that may arise during development and catch them early. Working with different BAs has impressed upon me the myriad of styles and approaches that can be used to get the job done, and well.
BUT…woe to the organization that relies solely on the natural talents of their BAs. To continue the football analogy, a guy may be 6′ 4″ and 235 lbs of solid muscle, but if no one taught him how to tackle, chances are he won’t be a very good linebacker. And even if he has learned how to tackle, that skill won’t be very useful unless he understands when to tackle the guy, how to get off of a block, what his responsibilities on the field are, and how he fits into the schemes that his team is running!
By the same token, good BAs understand that there are many skills out there that are necessary to be successful, and they understand what their main responsibilities are in relation to those of the other members of the team. Unlike the football player who knows only how to play one position in one formation, a truly valuable BA can draw upon an array of business analysis techniques and skills. These skills will help them meet the challenges of any situation, function successfully in any division of the organization, and work effectively as a member of the team.
I may be a little biased, but I think ArgonDigital’s training is designed to produce just these kinds of well-rounded BAs. These courses are designed to make a BA who can deliver high-quality work, understand what her role is in the project, and execute flawlessly.
ArgonDigital offers 3 training courses: Requirements 101: Best Practices; Requirements Visualization; and Elicitation and Facilitation Training. Together, these 3 courses can let your BAs be all that they can be.
To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, it may take hard effort (or a few days of training!) but if it results in a more highly-skilled BA force for your organization, then the payback will be huge.