Business Analyst: Tools and Principles for Professional Self-Development

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Dmytro Lenda, CFA, FRM, CBAP

15+ years of experience in business analysis across different industries and domain areas; CBAP, CFA, and FRM certificate holder; EPAM professional assessment expert



Target audience: Senior+ level analysts with the desire to expand their professional toolset or get an alternative point of view on their further self-development (although more junior people may also find something useful here)



I am thankful to Denis Gobov, CBAP, PMI-PBA, PhD, Head of BA in DataArt and business-trainer; Roman Sakharov, BA manager, and other EPAM colleagues; Lyubov Posvalyuk, CBAP; and Olga Cherkasova, CBAP for their help and advice in preparing this article. My English teacher Sean Meyer helped me with editing the draft. My family supported me all the time I was working on it.


Intro


During my long journey in the BA profession, I found many valuable sources of information and tools that may be useful for BAs. In addition, I generalized my experience and distilled it into a few principles. Both tools and principles presented will help BA professionals in their way to Mastery of the BA profession. Moreover, they may be helpful for practitioners of other related professions, including developers, testers, POs, PMs, etc. I have assembled the most valuable items from my perspective, so this list should not be treated as exhaustive. At the same time, it may help you select valuable items for your professional collection or at least hint to you about the direction of your search or investigation. Business analysis is not a brand-new profession, so you will definitely benefit from the learning experiences from your predecessors in the BA or peer occupations.


I intended to create a place where you could not only detect your gaps in skills, but also return (maybe multiple times) to find a mention of information or link to a resource you need to deepen your knowledge.


Contents


Principles

Follow the global benchmarks

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something

Knowledge as a background

Overcoming existing limitations

Constant experimentation-learning cycle

SHU-HA-RI

Cases

Codes and certifications

BABOK 3 and beyond

IIBA and beyond

BA profession and beyond

CBAP and beyond

Global and beyond

Tech giants’ benchmark: FAANGs

The interview process

Pre-screen

Technical interview

Product sense interview

Behavioral interview

General advice for tech giant section

Various additional tools

Systems theory: Brief

Systems theory: Complex systems

The potential scope of the BA role according to the BCS

Useful web resources: Major

Useful web resources: Ukraine

Useful web resources: Additional

Tools (for IT BA): Major

Tools (for IT BA): Advanced

Tools (for IT BA): Sophisticated

Path of an analyst

Domain knowledge: How to improve?

Visual modeling notations: UML & BPMN and beyond

Data analysis for a BA: IIBA approach

Data analysis for a BA: Data analysis tools

Conferences: Major global

Prizes and awards: Major global

Major independent conferences & awards: Ukraine & CIS

Language skills

Professional ethics

Appendix 1: Other useful links

Appendix 2: Advice for switchers to BA profession

Appendix 3: Product management intro

Appendix 4: Tech skills intro

Appendix 5: The key trends

Next horizons



Principles (following Sun Tzu)


  1. Follow the global benchmarks

  2. “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something” (Thomas Huxley)

  3. Knowledge as a background

  4. Go beyond BABOK 3

  5. Go beyond UML&BPMN

  6. Constant experimentation-learning cycle

  7. Shu-Ha-Ri


Follow the global benchmarks

The most important principle. The most effective practices survive on a global scale. Usually, these practices were tested by time and multiple adopters. So, it is probable that these practices will suit you.


The most popular industry codes with the global focus:


• BABOK 3 – 50 techniques

• The PMI guide to business analysis

The profession and codes are evolving:


BABOK 2 had 34 general techniques, while BCS primary techniques guide “Business analysis techniques” increased the number of techniques presented from 72 to 99 in the most recent edition for 2021.


Try to learn something about everything and everything about something

Cross-functional teams tend to be more effective in a dynamic environment, thus increasing the value of T, M, and E shaped skill profiles. It seems to be due to the increasing importance of cross-functional integration nowadays. These profiles vary by the depth and width of knowledge. The proper combination of both should be tailored for the BA needs.


Some types of skill profiles:


• – - shaped

• I - shaped

• T - shaped

• M – shaped

• Etc.


Knowledge as a background

Many local entities develop their techniques and tools, including certification entities, with a local (or personal) focus. These techniques may be a good complement to the globally accepted techniques and be used as inputs to design custom BA techniques and tools. The effectiveness of these tools and techniques was proven by local communities of analysts, so they have successfully passed the preselection. Rational considerations should be used for the selection of new tools or approaches.


Examples of local or personal knowledge banks: