Using Your Business Analysis Skills to Set Career Goals | TechWell

Using Your Business Analysis Skills to Set Career Goals

With the end of the year approaching, I’m sure many of us are putting in that final push to get a project or initiative complete before we spend some well-earned downtime with our friends and family over the upcoming holiday season.

I found an interesting discussion in the IIBA LinkedIn discussion forum that asks an important, but often forgotten question: What are your career goals for the new year? Do you have any—and if so, have you written them down?

As change professionals, it’s so easy to neglect our career development in the rush to finish projects and “get stuff done.” However, here’s an interesting twist: Why not use the business analysis tools and techniques that you use on projects to help plan your career and development? This probably sounds a little bizarre, so I’ll explain.

If you want to set some long, medium, and short term goals, a great place to start would be by carrying out a quick PESTLE analysis to assess your external environment: What things might change? What new environmental factors might you need to adapt to (and what new experience or training might you need)? Although this technique is normally used in a business context, it works equally well in the context of individual personal development.

You can build on this by carrying out a SWOT analysis on yourself. You can then make a choice about whether to tackle your weaknesses, build on your strengths, as well as deciding which opportunities to leverage and which threats to mitigate or avoid.

Having come up with some potential development opportunities, you can then set some high-level measurable goals using SMART or even PECSAW. Carrying out some good, old-fashioned requirements analysis will enable you to drill down on each goal.

In fact, you could even start by writing down more granular potential goals and actions as user stories:

“As a Business Analyst, I need to learn more about Systems Thinking, so I can incorporate this into my projects and help my organization get out of the fire-fighting loop.”

With a little bit of imagination you could even set some acceptance criteria so you know when "done is done," and you can estimate the effort and priority of each one.

Having scoped out your broad goals and requirements, you’ll then need to consider solutions, which could include training, exposure to different type of projects, volunteering, etc. If you decide you need specific training, you can carry out some vendor assessment (although probably more lightweight than a formal RFP!) to establish which training provider is best.

So with this in mind, what are your goals for 2013? And will you be using your BA skills to set them?

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