1. Introduce yourself
Hi, my name is James Dean and I'm a Business Analyst with 6 years experience. I'm based in Dublin, Ireland and have worked in various domains such as corporate and business registries, life sciences and energy.
I'm a passionate individual regarding anything and everything Business Analysis and I love working with different people to solve problems, I love helping spread the awareness of business analysis and mentoring other business analysis practitioners.
Outside of work I'm a dancer, I have been dancing since I've been about 6 years old in various dance styles, mainly practicing hip-hop dancing today. I also have a twin sister.
2. How did you become a business analyst?
Like many, I stumbled into the role of a Business Analyst, often humorously referred to as "BA" for "By Accident". I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours (BSc Hons) Degree in IT Management. After college, I aspired to become an Oracle Database Administrator due to my fascination with databases and SQL (Structured Query Language) throughout college.
My career started as a System Analyst and Developer, working in the corporate and business registry domain on-site with a client in Ireland. This allowed me to learn various systems, processes, and engage with diverse stakeholders. Six months later, I was unexpectedly assigned to a project as a Business Analyst, despite being unsure of the role's specifics. I was trained by two amazing Business Analysts Susana Pires and Rob Ryan who guided and supported me whilst working on different projects.
Over time, I acquired skills and techniques in business analysis, such as facilitation, elicitation, modeling, collaboration, problem-solving, and analytical thinking, and I developed a passion for helping people find solutions to their problems.
In the course of my journey, I earned my ECBA (Entry Level Certificate in Business Analysis) from IIBA and the PSPO I (Professional Scrum Product Owner Part 1 Certificate) from Scrum.org️. After four years, I transitioned to the life sciences industry, a somewhat daunting move, but I successfully applied my previous knowledge and skills to excel in this domain.
I furthered my qualifications by obtaining the Agile Analysis Certification (AAC) from IIBA, confirming my expertise in implementing agile best practices.
Additionally, I have the honor of serving as the President of the IIBA Ireland Chapter, alongside a team of remarkable individuals.
Most recently, I embarked on a new journey as the first "official" Business Analyst in a company operating in the energy sector, where I am currently located. This experience led me to attain my Applied Certificate in Business Analysis (ACBA) from Bridging the Gap.
3. Based on your experience so far, what advice would you give to someone entering the field of business analysis?
- Stay curious and strive to actively communicate and collaborate with your stakeholders!
- Seek to understand how processes, systems and technologies work in organisations, who are the different people who use these systems or work in the organisation and how do they work with one another.
- Aim to ask the right questions to the right people at the right time and communicate and collaborate with various stakeholders to ensure a shared understanding of the business need to be solved.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions, as a question not asked could result in a "missed" requirement or introduce a risk to the project further down the line.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate!
- Acquire the mindset of business analysis to adapt and achieve better business outcomes in diverse situations.
- Stay informed about the latest business analysis trends is essential, as adaptability is key.
- Leverage past experiences and skills, even if you've never worked as a Business Analyst before, as you can be surprised what value you'll find.
4. What qualities should a good business analyst possess?
From my opinion, I would say the below are what make a good Business Analyst:
- Communication - to be able to clearly present and document requirement to different groups of stakeholders.
- Collaboration - to be able to continuously build relationships with stakeholders to gain trust and buy in on requirements and your BA approach.
- Problem Solving - to be able to challenge the problem to be solved, to elicit requirements using different techniques and evaluate the optimal solution using your business analysis mindset to ensure you're solving the right problem.
- Active Listening - to listen to stakeholder's problems and concerns, apply empathy and ask questions to get to the root cause of a problem.
- Facilitation - to be able to gather the right people in the room to discuss the right problems at the right time. Not as a subject matter expert (SME), but as a facilitator to facilitate decision making and a shared understanding of the problem to be solved.
- User Focused - to be able to focus on what the user's pain points and challenges are, to then devise a solution that will solve each pain point. Don't jump into solution mode until you understand the user's pain points.
5. If you could describe the perfect stakeholder in 3 words, how would you describe them?
Engaging, open minded and collaborative.
6. Is there a skill that you successfully apply in your professional practice as well as in your personal life?
I'm always analysing things in both my personal and professional life. I've been constantly using my business analysis mindset and thinking in different situations and the more I work as a Business Analyst, the more I realise how Business Analysis skills are life skills.
To be able to communicate, collaborate, plan, ask questions, elicit, model and apply critical thinking are many ways where I've applied these skills. One example in my personal life was mapping out the steps in the process for buying my first home. I used my modeling skills to create a process flow diagram with the steps involved in the process, the people involved within the process, the inputs, outputs, business rules and then used the process flow diagram to analyse the "gaps" to each step, in an effort to elicit the requirements.
This enabled me to identify what questions I had to ask to appropriate stakeholders, to elicit the legal requirements from my solicitor and define what documentation was required to be submitted to the lender (bank) before mortgage approval could be received.
7. Recommend a podcast, book, or blog that you follow.
There are so many great resources out there for Business Analysts, but two that I would recommend are:
- A book by Laura Brandenburg - "How to Start a Business Analyst Career". This is great for aspiring Business Analysts or new Business Analysts starting out in their career. Also beneficial for experienced Business Analysts to learn new ways of approaching the Business Analyst role and profession.
- A blog post by Yulia Kosarenko - "25 Lessons Learned From 25 Years in Business Analysis". This is very interesting and insightful to learn from Yulia's experiences. There are a lot of valuable lessons that can help any level of Business Analyst and also allows you as a Business Analyst to reflect on your experiences, learnings and lessons, to draw similarities or patterns between Yulia's lessons and your own.
8. Business analyst or Product Owner or Product Manager?
I think there is a flavour of business analysis in all of these job titles, and the beauty of business analysis is that it isn't based on a job title, it's based on your mindset, techniques, best practices, skills, adaptability and approach and how you apply these.
There could be people in an organisation performing business analysis, but not maintaining the title of Business Analyst, they could be a Project Manager, System Architect, Product Manager, Product Owner or even a Quality Assurance Engineer.
The most proficient Business Analysts prioritise aspects beyond their job titles, focusing on endeavors such as effectively addressing business requirements, optimising value delivery within the organisation, fostering seamless communication and collaboration with stakeholders, refining requirements communication, adeptly managing evolving requirements, ensuring alignment between solutions and business objectives, measuring success, and ensuring the prioritisation of the correct business needs.
They also excel in requirements elicitation and provide substantial support for implementing solutions, among other crucial responsibilities️.