How to retrain in business analyst

    In this article, Ksenia Zhayvoronok, a business analyst at EPAM Ukraine , shares recommendations on how to get into the profession, and the history of her path from a philologist to a business analyst.

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    What is needed for a successful start?

    When you change your business, you already have some kind of base. If you are an IT specialist, it will be easier for you, because you already understand the specifics of the industry and are used to slang. If this is your first job in IT, you will need more time and “homework” to get to know this world and learn to understand its language.

    In one evening - and even in a week - you will not become a business analyst. Will require systematic and methodical work. I will share with you my vision of the necessary components of the transition.

    Identify your strengths

    Take a close look at your current profession: what have you learned thanks to it? Remember your achievements, successful projects, the people who helped you and taught you, the people you helped. Recall your mistakes and blunders: what skills didn’t you have enough for not to commit them, what did they teach you, did you manage to acquire these missing skills? Recall all past professions and analyze them in the same way. This is a kind of inventory of your experience and skills. As a result of this work, you will have your personal base: a feeling of reliable support will appear, and a list of areas that require additional attention.

    Learn the theory

    Usually it scares the most, but the theory is really important, and the right approach is needed.

    1. I recommend to pay attention to the book by Karl Wigers "Development of requirements for software" (see a very good review of Nikolai Kochnev ). The main advantage is that it has been translated into Russian. No need to be intimidated by volume or terminology. Read slowly, calmly and carefully - and be sure to track parallels with your life experience. Such a "landing" will give confidence that you can figure it out.
    2. If there are no problems with English, I highly recommend taking the Client Needs and Software Requirements course on Coursera. It is simpler than the Wigers book. To go free, you need to enroll and select the option Audit. This course is part of the Software Product Management Specialization , which will be very useful to those who have little knowledge of IT. You will learn not only about business analysis and work with requirements, but also about software development techniques and project planning. Specialization can not be free to pass, but you can take each course separately in audit mode.

    Learn English

    Learning English is one of the main investments in the development of the profession. In order to qualify for the Junior BA position, you need English at least B1 . This means that you need to be able to communicate with native speakers. Choose a comfortable and pleasant option for you to study: with a teacher in person or on Skype, in a group or individually. Be sure to immerse yourself in the world of language: watch movies and TED conference in original, sing songs, watch memes (why not?), Read comics, articles, books, subscribe to your favorite celebrities on social networks.

    1. A wonderful book with recommendations for learning languages ​​- “9 ½ weeks in a foreign language or how to learn the language with your head, not 5 years” by Alexey Bessonov and Marina Ruban.
    2. Raymond Murphy’s favorite English grammar book, English Grammar in Use, is now available as an app.
    3. Basics of the language is elegantly explained by Dmitry Petrov in the video course “Polyglot. Learn English in 16 hours!"

    Learn to communicate effectively

    You will interact a lot with different people: customers, developers, testers, managers. Learn how to build correct communication: it is important to appreciate the time of other people, articulate your thoughts clearly and accurately, help clients and colleagues in this, choose the appropriate way and tools for communication. These skills will allow you to become a valuable team player and bring great benefits to the project.

    1. I recommend the book by Maxim Ilyakhov and Lyudmila Sarycheva “Write, abbreviate” . She teaches correct and respectful communication, tells what an info-style is, how to think “in the client's world”, what stop words are and why they cannot be used, how to write a text that will be pleasant to read. It will be useful to all, without exception.
    2. And another great book from Maxim and Lyudmila about how not to annoy people in the era of emails, messengers and chats, - “New rules for business correspondence”.
    3. Kloter Rapay "Cultural code" - this book will allow you to look at the world through the eyes of representatives of different cultures, show that we think about the same things differently. This approach will be very useful when you need to build communication with foreign clients or coordinate multinational development teams.

    Include curiosity and empathy.

    You will be the person who asks the most stupid questions. Some of them will eventually lead to great discoveries and excellent solutions, some not. Do not be afraid to look stupid: a business analyst should not be the smartest person in a room. It’s good if you have the experience of a “client” of a business for which you are developing a solution - probably everybody was an online store buyer. But what to do if your application coordinates the work of the ambulance, and you do not have the opportunity to communicate with doctors, nurses and hospital administration? Find on social networks and subscribe to people who work in this area. Many people generously share their vision, experience, complain if something does not suit them. And we just need this information! Cool, if these people are from different countries: at the same time you will be pumping out language and intercultural communication!

    1. “What are Jobs-to-be-done and Job stories” is an excellent article by Anna Buldakova about the basics of the framework for Jobs to be Done with links to excellent books and resources on this topic. Jobs to be Done will help to better understand business customers, and therefore choose the best solution to their problems. I strongly advise you to subscribe to the Anna Channel in the Telegram: she generously shares her experience as a product manager at Yandex, Intercom and Facebook.
    2. “A complaint is a gift. How to maintain customer loyalty in difficult situations ” is a great book about complaint management and how to take advantage of business.

    Be ready to learn for life

    The IT field is very dynamic. You cannot learn something once and for all: you must be ready to learn all your life. Yes, and in one project "sit out" will not work: sooner or later you have to switch. At the start of a new project, or when switching to another, you will need to be able to process a large amount of information in a short time. How to do it right?

    1. The techniques described by Professor Barbara Oakley in the book Think Like a Mathematician. How to solve any tasks faster and more efficiently .
    2. The same material is presented in her courses “Learning How to Learn: “ Mastering Tough Subjects ” and “ Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Your Own Hidden Potential ” in Coursera.

    Having mastered and applied the recommendations of Barbara, you will be able to learn faster and more efficiently, and you will be able to help your loved ones with your studies.

    Still in doubt?

    “Where can I get experience for the first project?” Is a frequent question. Lack of experience should not stop you. When you read a theory or take a course, “order” the project yourself, or arrange with a friend to be a client. Go all the way in the form of a game, but with real plans, schemes, user story "and this is all here." You will learn a lot and will feel more confident.
    “Do we need certification?” - in order to start working, they are not mandatory. See vacancies: in most cases, certification is not required. Nevertheless, the International Institute of Business Analysis offers for those who want certification of the first level L1 - ECBA (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis). It is suitable for people without experience in business analysis, but they need confirmed hours of core development.
    Make up your own idea of ​​this profession. You already have a starting point, expand the search field:

    1. Meet a live analyst :) If you are an introvert, start chatting on social networks or ask your friends to introduce you. The experience of other people is invaluable: you can learn about the profession and about different companies, and choose what you really like.
    2. Go to thematic conferences and other professional parties, look at people, what they live for, what they are interested in - do you want the same?
    3. Read the classics of business analysis and design - are you close to the problems they write about, are you ready to search for their solution, are you interested in?

    If yes - welcome!

    How did I do

    I have been in IT for 10 years. At school, she studied in depth mathematics and computer science, then she graduated from the magistracy of the faculty of foreign languages ​​of the KhNU. VN Karazin specialty English language and literature. The first job in IT was testing: a friend helped me a lot, and I was very grateful to get the first “combat” work experience and prepare for the interview. Dimka, thank you! I pass on :)

    Then I tried myself in business analysis, project management, recruiting, HR and event management. It was a very valuable experience, which gave a broader vision of IT processes, allowed soft skills to be pumped, making a lot of mistakes, meeting great people, making cool projects, and, finally, deciding what was the closest. At the moment I have been working as a business analyst for more than a year in the Kharkov office of EPAM.

    The result of all these throwings and searches was a list of recommendations, which I share above. He tested on me and my friends, and gives very good results. Try it!

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