Not Just A Job Anymore

Posted by Tahira Karim on 18 October 2012

For a long time Business Analysts struggled for professional recognition and I remember when I started off my career many people within the company I worked for did not have any idea as to what a business analyst was supposed to do let alone understand what value my role was supposed to bring to the organisation.

Every time I think about my first project and my first business requirements specification I cringe as I remember distinctly looking for guidance and finding that none was forthcoming.

The people I went to for assistance could not sufficiently articulate how I was supposed to approach my initiative or what elicitation techniques I could follow neither were they in a position to comment on what I was supposed to include in my documentation. I had no means of telling if what I was doing was the best way or that my outputs were fit for purpose on that project.

Often I would wonder if pursuing this profession was the right choice for me. As a practising BA I yearned for some benchmark or universally accepted definition of what my role encapsulated, it was challenging to work in a profession where every organisation had its own understanding of my work instructions and each was unique to that specific company.

If you become a chartered accountant or a lawyer or a motor mechanic the roles are clearly defined; you know exactly what you are supposed to be doing, your qualifications and career progression is clearly demarcated, but alas I found as a BA this was clearly not the case and because the profession was evolving organisations in the absence of any formal standard where relying on its own interpretation to define what my role was supposed to be.

I first learned of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) in 2006, through my lecturer Steve Erlank who spearheaded the start-up of the IIBA Chapter in South Africa.

For once I felt a sense of relief and comfort in knowing that here at last was a non-profit international organisation addressing the needs of the business analysis professional

For me the IIBA brings many things but the most important of which is that it provides me with an international platform in making the voice of the business analyst heard. The IIBA has successfully managed to develop a globally recognised Body of Knowledge (BABOK) for BA practitioner’s worldwide, what a feat!!

It has made tremendous inroads in starting a certification programme for professional BA’s, allowing them a career path, the CCBA and CBAP accreditation bears testimony to this effort.

Just as importantly it has offered certification for BA training but has also extended this to providers that offer business analysis training and courses.

For someone looking out to further their professional development it becomes critical to select a provider that offers business analysis courses endorsed by the IIBA.When training budgets are stretched as an organisation you cannot afford to send your resources on courses that are not approved by the governing body for that profession.

At the ground level what having the IIBA around has meant for me as a BA practitioner is that I have peace of mind in knowing that that the profession I am practising in has been formalised, gone are the days when organisations can hold their hands up in the air and maintain, ‘We don’t know what a BA does! We can’t measure their worth and we don’t know what the qualities of their outputs are supposed to be’!

These days anyone can access the IIBA website and gain information on any aspect of the business analysis profession. There are numerous IIBA events organised locally and abroad that both IIBA members and non-members can attend.

There are IIBA chapters in currently 120 countries, that’s really a ‘Wow’ and amazing story, from a small group of people in Canada who one day in 2003 decided that they were going to become the leading association for business analysis around the world.

So you may ask yourself what that has to do with Optimation in New Zealand? We pride ourselves as an organisation that understands the needs of our Clients, we see ourselves as offering products and services that align to the business strategy of our Clients. Our website says ‘We are smart people coming up with smart solutions’ and we have ‘staff from around the world who boasts an impressive array of skills and qualifications’.

If these are the promises we live by and the foundation upon which we have built our reputation as an organisation; then we need to honour our commitment in this regard.

As Optimation business analysts we want to stay ahead of our game and be world-class practitioners. Our Clients will trust our expertise and have confidence in the services we offer when we demonstrate our knowledge and professionalism to them whether that be in the area or requirements management, requirements elicitation and analysis or whether that be business process improvement.

Herein lies the opportunity as Optimation business analysts we can not only establish a well-grounded business analysis practise but also actively participate in creating awareness amongst our Clients that our approach to business analysis is aligned to the IIBA.

As ambassadors for our profession we can a play a vital role in raising the bar of Business Analyst Practitioners in New Zealand by participating in local IIBA events as well as arranging symposiums to be held at our offices where guest speakers can deliver presentation and talks on emerging trends in business analysis.

This will facilitate creating a learning environment that will see local IT players becoming more engaged and educated about the profession.

As I look ahead as to what the future holds for the business analysis profession, I am indeed excited and enthusiastic, thanks to the tremendous inroads made by the IIBA I can now be a change catalyst in transforming the business analysis landscape in New Zealand.