10+ useful sources for Business Analysts: best practices and knowledge
Valeria Shpanko, a business analyst at Anywhere Club, discussed how to effectively learn, develop, and apply knowledge as a Business Analyst.
What is business analysis?
— Business analysis is the process of researching business problems, identifying opportunities, and determining what is required to improve a company's business processes. That definition of the specialty can be found if you refer to A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide), which was developed by the International Association of Business Analysts (IIBA).
In the article "Business Analysis Is Dead, Long Live Business Analysis?" Kupe Kupersmith considered whether business analysis had become an outdated and unnecessary process in light of the emergence of new technologies and development methodologies, such as Agile and design thinking. He found, to the contrary, that “the larger impact of business analysis is needed now more than ever before.”
What are best practices?
— “Best practices” refers to practices learned and validated by industry practitioners. They are recognized as the best for achieving specific goals and objectives in this area.
Best practices are identified in various sources, such as manuals, standards, recommendations, methodologies, etc. They can be found, for example, in BABOK, mentioned above, in Agile Manifesto, and in other sources. Each source contains tips, instructions, and recommendations concerning best practices.
No matter how banal it may sound, the main source of knowledge is frequently books.
— In addition to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge, an important source of knowledge the book Software Requirements (Developer Best Practices), by Karl Weigers and Joy Beatty. These two sources are distinguished by the extensive scope of their coverage, a set of techniques, and the organization of the knowledge.
If you are a novice Business Analyst, I advise you to start with the Wiegers/Beatty book. And it's absolutely fine if you don't master it the first or even the second time through it. When I first started studying, I read 14 pages.
Best practices should be applied taking into account the specific conditions and objectives of the company. You can't just copy some experience and apply it to your own without adaptation. Therefore, in addition to studying books as the main sources of knowledge, it is important to study cases to develop an appreciation for when and how you can deviate from the rules. Cases can be found in other different sources.
— For courses, you can turn to various platforms and providers. LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, for example, offer comprehensive courses on both business analysis and specific topics. Three that I find the most useful are:
- Business Analysis Foundations Learning Path (LinkedIn Learning);
- Business Analysis Modeling Skills & Techniques (Udemy); and
- Understand and Elicit Requirements with Business Analysis (Udemy).
A nice bonus is obtaining a certificate that you can add to your LinkedIn profile or upload to your Anywhere Club profile. For example, after completing the Complete Agile Scrum Master Certification Training (Udemy), you can practice answering questions from Product Owner Certification Mock Exams 2023 - 800 questions (Udemy) and Scrum Master Certification Mock Exams 2023 - 800 questions (Udemy). After one course, you can take exams to receive two certificates at once: Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) and Professional Scrum Product Owner I (PSPO I).
Blogs and forums
— It is difficult to understand something when there is no one to whom you can ask a question. Colleagues or others working in your chosen field are a good source of knowledge. Don't be afraid to ask questions. This is just one of the key skills of a Business Analyst. The most useful blogs and forums for me were:
- Analyst Catalyst (International Institute of Business Analysts);
- Community Blog for Business Analysts (Modern Analyst); and
- Bridging the Gap (BTG) Blog.
— Consider the most convenient way to get information. Do you read telegram channels or watch videos on TikTok? For me, it is equally convenient to receive information in writing and in abstract form. Therefore, I am subscribed to the Telegram channel BA community and the e-mail newsletter from IIBA. This helps keep my knowledge current. I also recommend:
— Of course, it's good to know the fundamentals. But do not forget about critical thinking. Business analysis is not only about learning what is written in books, but also about how to work with this information and adapt your knowledge to different situations.
Experiment, observe, share, and ask, be a part of the community, and organize it to suit your needs.