This article is written to clarify questions I receive concerning how experience can be accumulated or built up for examination and work purposes.
In my years of experience, I’ve noticed that the best way to build experience as a business analyst would be to work as a Business Analyst. There is no other way. You learn best by doing the task you intend to build experience in.
The right question then should be: “How do I accumulate relevant experience as a Business Analyst?”
,The best way to would be to start right at the bottom by shadowing a Senior BA. By going with him/her to meetings, watching what they do and how they conduct themselves, you’ll learn a lot faster than if this process is skipped.
You should also download templates to see how BAs organize and present their work visually. Download and compare a few (especially if they aren’t already available to you at work), use the bits that are relevant at the moment and store the rest away - review then when you can. You never know when they would be required.
You could start the manual aspect of process mapping. After you’ve documented them, you could find ways to automate them.
Look for ways to work your way up to gathering requirements for small system changes and enhancements. You could do this when someone wants to make simple changes to systems or processes. This is called eliciting, gathering requirements, and if considered in the light of the business goals and needs, validating requirements.
After you’ve learned the ropes handling smaller tasks, you can work your way up to bigger projects. You’ll need management support and trust in your capabilities, so you have to find a way to demonstrate this to them. This is where you get to write the Business Requirements Specs (if you’re the Business BA) or the Functional Specs Document (if you’re the IT BA) if you're using the Waterfall Methodology or you'll document User Stories if you're using the Agile Methodology
With greater levels of experience and seniority, you could become a Strategic or Consultant BA, depending on the organisational structure. Here you’ll be expected to do the “thinking work” where the Management requires changes to the business systems. You, as a BA, would need to create a justifying document that spells out in detail why the change is needed and what benefits should be expected from the BA activities. This is called the Project Initiation Document, possibly also a Scoping Document.
Another thing you’ll be required to do would be to track the business benefits at this level. This is to measure the value delivered by the solution system deployed by you. The BA usually has a handover/retention/guarantee period of 2-6 months to ensure the solution deployed does not fail and delivers the promised value to the business. The business then takes over monitoring the value once the guarantee period comes to an end.
This details in as simple a manner as possible what the journey to becoming an experienced BA can be like. Of course it won’t be this simple and there would be challenges, but identifying your path, sticking to it, and making commitments such as taking the CCBA or CBAP exams, meeting and relating with other BAs professionally and others, would go a long way in helping you ease seamlessly into the value-creating world of business analysis.
I hope this helps.