How To Be a Great Business Analyst

Are you a business analyst who wants to be better at what you do? Have you been recently promoted to being a business analyst and have no idea what is expected of you? Well never fear, my friends, for we here at Swimlane Flowcharts are here to help you. The business analyst role is critical to the success of any significant project and there are many resources available to help the aspiring BA improve at their job. In this post we are highlighting a number of resources than can help you become a great business analyst.

The first book I recommend is The Business Analyst’s Handbook by Howard Podeswa. This book was the first of it’s kind that I saw – a book designed specifically for the business analyst. Given the importance of the position as a liaison between the business and information technology team I don’t know why there wouldn’t have been more written about this key role but there really hasn’t been. Of course since the advent of the International Institute of Business Analysis professional association there has been more written material on this position, but in the end I still like this book the best.

One thing to keep in mind is that this book has solid reference material that experienced Business Analysts can utilize on virtually any assignment. This is not the best book for a new Business Analyst and is really geared towards a practitioner that understands their craft and appreciates additional guidance. But that shouldn’t discourage new BAs from purchasing this book. After all, someday you too will be that experienced practitioner!

Next up on our recommended list is Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis by Barbara A. Carkenord. Don’t let the textbook-like cover fool you. This book is not just for academics – it is for real life business analysts out in the fields.

This book provides a how to approach to mastering business analysis work. It will help build the skill sets of new analysts and all those currently doing analysis work, from project managers to project team members such as system analysts, product managers and business development professionals, to the experienced business analyst. It also covers the tasks and knowledge areas for the new 2008 v.2 of The Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge and will help prepare business analysts for the IIBA CBAPA certification exam.

The best aspect of the book is it’s use of real world, practical examples. It really helps to understand the topic. Here is one of the most succinct reviews I’ve found:

Barbara Carkenord has really gotten it right! This book takes you through what is needed to analyze a business completely and correctly, which will feed into the best solutions for that business. ‘Seven Steps’ is well laid out, understandable, and hits all the right notes. I would recommend this book not only to new business analysts, but also to seasoned analysts looking to hone their skills.

I think that says it all.

If you can’t succeed at being a business analyst after reading and absorbing these guides to being a business analyst then perhaps you are in the wrong line of work!


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