John studied for a degree in business and information technology management at London Metropolitan University. Find out how he secured a role as a business analyst at The Access Group
How did you get your job?
I had been working as a business analyst but wanted to find somewhere new to progress and refine my skills. I came across the business analyst role at The Access Group on a job board, applied through the website and the rest is history.
What is a typical day like as a business analyst?
The day starts with a stand-up meeting. I then review my requirements, organise workshops and clear up any ambiguities with clients or project team members. Once I have analysed the requirements, I then convert them into user stories or wireframes (web design through structural methods) to ensure my development team clearly understands what goals and deliverables we are working towards.
What do you enjoy the about your job?
Being part of a team that ensures the smooth delivery of solutions to problems gives me an immense amount of satisfaction. I'm an inquisitive person by nature, and my role supports this by allowing me to probe further into the inner workings and processes of products and software.
To me, my projects are like babies, and I like nurturing them from the planning, analysis and evaluation phases until they come into fruition at implementation and release.
What challenges do you face?
One of the hardest parts of the job is getting clients and the team together at one time to discuss the project. Obviously, clients have their own schedules and deadlines to meet, so it can be difficult to find a day where everyone is available.
The best way around this is to only bring the most senior members of the team along during the analysis or requirement process. Once we have met our clients and decided on a strategy, I pass the key messages onto the rest of the team and distribute tasks. This means that everyone is on the same page and no one has lost out on essential work time.
How relevant was your degree?
As my degree was IT-related, I had a certain level of knowledge when it came to managing and using IT systems, but methodologies have changed over the years. The degree gave me a great foundation to work from, but as technology advances, businesses aren't sticking to standard methodologies.
Organisations are now searching out new ways of working that are suited for their specific needs and industry, so I've had to learn how to adapt to agile methodologies (solutions evolve through collaborative effort and self-organisation.)
Any advice for aspiring business analysts?
As a business analyst, your main goal is to help clients plan for the future and achieve their goals. Before you can do this, you will need to know how an organisation runs and how to evaluate data to pinpoint important information. A degree in a business-related subject offers a solid foundation, but practice makes perfect, so relevant work experience is essential.
Communication is also key, as the role involves talking to a client's internal teams to understand their needs, as well as discussing strategies and findings with the business directors. Adapting the way you speak can help meetings move smoothly, especially if a client does not understand technical jargon such as 'process flows' and 'wireframes'. Remember if they do not have a technical background, take the time to explain terminology in plain English.
Finally, always aim to look at the end-to-end process during your initial meetings, so you can get a clearer picture of the steps and goals. This makes it easier to identify possible flaws and gaps in the current and proposed changes, allowing you to come up with the right solution.