Why did you choose a career in Business Analysis?
When I graduated from university I wasn’t anywhere near the top of my class and at the time, as now, there were too many graduates for too few opportunities.
I started out as a temp for HSBC, a tier one investment bank, where I quickly became a subject matter expert for both OTC Credit Derivatives and the systems and processes involved, and then ‘fell’ into business analysis. I decided to follow this career path because I enjoyed improving processes and working with stakeholders.
What is a typical day like for you?
- Understand the business
- Analyze & solve problems
- Communicate effectively
- Manage client relationships
- Enable discussions
- Negotiate & build consensus
- Model data & processes
- Plan & manage activities
- Develop business strategy
- Manage organisational change.
I enjoy my career so much because of the variety. One day you may be requirements gathering, another day providing updates to senior stakeholders, or writing a business requirements document, a test plan, and more.
Requirements gathering and BRDs
Requirements gathering is a vital part of successful project management and application development. It involves:
- Interviewing experts
- Organising complex information into understandable subject areas
- ‘Translating’ technical language into business language and vice versa
- Ensuring stakeholder involvement at all levels
- Drafting clear and concise written documentation for users and technicians
- Working with multidisciplinary teams.
Business analysts also write Business Requirements Documents (BRDs). These are exhaustive written studies of regulatory, business, user, functional and non-functional requirements. It is a detailed profile of primary and secondary users and comes directly from the data the business analyst has already gathered.
After the document is completed, the business analyst and the client, or user, meet to review and formally approve the BRD. The document is then shared with the rest of the development team.
Providing end-user support
It’s a common misconception among project teams that the project ends when the product is completed. This isn’t true. End-user support after the product is delivered is almost as important.
Business analysts work with end-users after deployment to clarify any high-level questions that need to be addressed. They also work closely with training managers and facilitators to deliver the training support.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Having an independent contract means that not only am I able to experience a wide variety of different projects but also different company cultures as well. I have been lucky in that I have been able to work in the Investment Banking, Retail, and Private Wealth areas within the Financial Services industry.
I particularly enjoy working with people from a variety of departments and levels across the institutions that I have worked with.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
In the long term I would like to manage large and interesting pieces of work.
Academically, I hope to pass exams set by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and the Association for Project Management (APM) professional bodies. I would also like to support and contribute more to these bodies in future.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
The successful performance of a business analyst depends in large part on soft skills (non-technical skills such as team-building and listening).
Many organisations require business analysts to be technically oriented as well, but this varies on a case by case basis.
Most business analysts originally started out in another role first, so if you’re in another role, the following will help you make that leap to becoming a business analyst.
- Always learn as much as possible about the underlying process of any tasks you are working on.
- Volunteer for any project work that your manager or department may have available.
- Suggest improvements to the current operating model.
- Have plenty of curiosity and a healthy dose of lateral thinking.
- Be objective, professional and ethical at all times.
Go the extra mile by learning both professionally and academically, logging continuous professional development through a recognised scheme.
Alastair Majury resides locally in Dunblane, and is an IT Consultant working across the country. Alastair is also a volunteer officer at the local Boys’ Brigade company, a charity which focuses on enriching the lives of children and young people, and building a stronger community.