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Business Analyst Job Description Mon 11 Aug 08

Camiseta_cv2_jloriFar and away my most popular post is Let's Get Down to BusinessEven though it was written about a year and a half ago, 20+% of my recent site visits are to this article coming in either through Google searches or Jonathon Babcock's review of this post.  Why is this so popular?  I think it is because it contains a great business analyst (BA) job description that gets to the heart of what a business analyst really does.  This job description doesn't just cover the skills they need but focuses more on the competencies that will make them successful.

Having just gone through the process reviewing a fair number of BA resumes I'd like to add one more item to the list.

Be able to describe and communicate the value of a project in terms of both its benefits and costs in terms used by the business community that will effectively obtain leadership understanding, support and approval of the project.

In other words the BA has to be able to "sell" the project.  Ultimately it is the responsibility of the business owner or sponsor to sell the project, however, the BA has to be able to play a critical support role in selling the project.  As I did in the original post I highlighted this competency in blue to convey convey the essence of what distinguishes a good business analyst from a good applications person.

The reason I've added this is that after reading a number of resumes it was apparent that many claiming to be BA's are missing this critical competency too.  (Perhaps I should have used a different colors since it may not be all that common with BA's either.)  How could I tell?

Their resumes would contain a lot of phrases such as:

  • Led the finance team during the SAP upgrade project
  • Directed the implementation of the new general ledger system
  • Responsible for a team of 12 analysts during the SAP conversion

My response to these types of statements is "So What?"  While I give them credit for reading all those resume preparation book chapters that stress using action verbs what I really want to know is what actions did you take and what were the results.  I'm more interested in what you accomplished than I am in what you did.  It's important to remember that activity isn't the same as accomplishment.

I see similar statements in regard to the way people describe projects.  For example, the project is about implementing a new module and cleaning up the data.  Again, so what?

A key to a powerful resume is to use STAR or SOAR statements:

  • STAR - Situation/Task, Action, Results
  • SOAR - Situation, Opportunity or Obstacle, Action, Results

These simple statements can tell a very effective story in selling your product whether your product is yourself or a project.  Some examples:

  • For a resume - Directed a team of analysts during a major software conversion where restructured the team into functional units which resulted in increased focus on business objectives and our completing the project 1 month ahead of schedule.
  • For a project - Our Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) has grown but by implementing the new module and cleaning up the data you will be able to process receivables without manual intervention and to reduce the DSO by 2 days.

This get back to the WIIFM (What's In It For Me) principle that every decision maker instinctively applies to any sales request.  Let's not make them guess.

What methods have you found to be effective in selling projects?

"camiseta_CV2" illustration by jlori

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» What's In A Title / Job Description - Programmer, Developer, System Analyst, Business Analyst from Beyond Blinking Lights and Acronyms
A reader from Singapore (fantastic place by the way) wrote me with a question a few weeks ago -- Just wonder how a BA [business analyst] is different from a SA[system analyst]. My understanding of a good SA has attributes [Read More]



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