TBAC 015 | Author Cast : Howard Podeswa – ’10ish Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started As A BA’

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo8

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Imagine your first few months as a business analyst being the most educational. You get all the training in required tools, techniques, and a great mentor holding your hand as you navigate through the challenges. You know exactly why certain stakeholders behave the way they do, you know exactly when to stop conducting your analysis and validate your work, and you are becoming an adept and polished BA.  Well, unfortunately, for the most part,  imagination is where it stays.

What if someone could hand you down 10 things that every BA must know just before they start their career?

That is what precisely this episode was produced to do. In this episode, I interview Howard Podeswa, who will talk through 10ish things that every BA must know before they start their career.

Howard Podeswa is the author of two popular BA books, The Business Analyst Handbook, and UML For IT Business Analysts. He is also a Trainer, and a prolific Artist. I had the good fortune of meeting Howard a few times, and also got an opportunity to visit one of his art exhibitions. He has been a great mentor and friend. You will find links to see samples of his artwork below in the links sections.

This episode is an extension of a question that Julian Sammy had asked him during one of the IIBA® Webinars: “What are the most important things you wish you had known when you were starting out as a BA?”. Howard shares some amazing insights, and valuable words of wisdom. This can apply to all business analysts who are at the starting point of their careers, and a great reminder for senior BAs.

Here is Howard giving out 10ish very valuable lessons:

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Here is a Sneak Peek of The Episode:

  • The introduction of BA role and how it impacted Howard’s work.
  • His recommendation of this role to anyone with an analytical and people side to them.
  • Discussion around knowing the history of the project, and why it is important.
  • Why you should not hide in a corner as business analyst.
  • The importance of finding out who has the signing authority on requirements.
  • The value in focussing on what to achieve, rather than the procedure to achieve it.
  • Why listening is the most important element while conducting interviews.
  • Small demo projects, and why he is a big advocate for this.
  • The power of iterations even in an SDLC model.
  • Discussion around being your own PM, and time budgeting.
  • Relationship between movies, storyboarding, and requirements elicitation.

Insightful Quotes From This Episode:

“I recommend this to anybody whos got an analytical and people side, its really a left brain right brain thing…”

“There is always a hidden agenda… a good BA has their nose upto it…”

“You have to know it and you need to know it, because you are walking into a minefield as a BA…”

“Don’t go out on your own for too long…”

“They trust you with the job and you will do what it takes to get the job done…”

“Don’t hide in a corner…Get help when you need it…”

“It is very very important to find out who that person is…”

“If there was a pet thing that they wanted to see in there, they can shoot you down over that.”

“What is the process going to be and who are the people behind it. (for the sign-off).”

“The personal connections that you make at the job are really a big part of the job, and they make your job really easy.”

“They had to throw out all the detailed requirements once the solution had changed (problem of solutionizing requirements)”

“I don’t care what the button is, but what are you achieving by pressing that button?”

“They already know whats wrong with the process, and they already have great ideas about what to do next… What they need is someone to coordinate this… because everybody knows a little piece… you just need to pull small pieces together. Your job is to pull together the knowledge that is already out there.”

“You can miss the tiniest little cue from somebody, that there are political issues, conflicts, or the hidden agenda… you’ve missed that if you are thinking about the solution right away.”

“Don’t think solution! Really focus on reading everything – body language, things said, things not said – from the person you are talking to; this is extremely important”

“Test your assumptions as early as possible in order to mitigate risk…”

Items Mentioned in The Show:

Howard Podeswa in Brief:

Howard Podeswa is the co-founder of Noble Inc., a business analysis training and consulting company. He has 29 years of experience in many aspects of the software industry, beginning as a developer for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and continuing as systems analyst, business analyst, consultant, and author of courseware and books for business analysts, including UML for the IT Business Analyst. Directly, and through his company, he has provided training and consulting services to a diverse client base covering a broad range of industry sectors, including health care, defense, energy, government, and banking and financial institutions. Podeswa has developed BA training programs for numerous colleges, universities, and corporate education centres. He has been a subject matter expert in Business Analysis for NITAS—a BA apprenticeship program for CompTIA—and a contributing reviewer for the IIBA’s Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®).

If you have any comments or questions for this episode, please post them below.

Enjoy the show and don’t forget to spread the word about this awesome episode using the social sharing links.


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Article by

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), is the founder of The BA Coach community and host for the #1 ranked business analysis podcast in iTunes. He believes in adding relentless value to the BA community and advancing the practice.  He host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. He's the author of 'The Five Pillars of a Great Business Analyst', best selling 'The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide' and the creator of the revolutionary 'Ultimate BABOK Kit'. 

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8 Responses to “TBAC 015 | Author Cast : Howard Podeswa – ’10ish Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started As A BA’”

  1. Katie Metcalfe says:

    Hey Howard, thanks for this podcast. Always good to hear your insightful advice and good humour.

    I have also had the “hidden agenda” experience and have found that asking about past projects or past organization changes to be helpful in understanding the full picture.

    Thanks for the common sense ideas!


    • You’re welcome! Care to share any of those experiences?

      Here are a couple of mine: One initiative had previously come to a stop because stakeholders couldn’t agree on scope: some wanted to consider applying a change/improvement to all business processes in the organization while others wanted to narrow the scope so that they could achieve a quick win first and avoid analysis-paralysis. The two sides were at a standoff when we were brought in.

      Another case: one department wanted a specific off-the-shelf product regardless of how well it did (or did not) address concerns of other departments.

      In both cases, the party that brought us in had a hidden agenda –which was for us to support their choices, as independent BA consultants.

  2. And … Many thanks to Yamo; it was pleasure speaking with you ‘on tape’. You are providing a great service to the community. I wish you the best of luck.
    – Howard

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks again for being on the show, Howard. It was a great experience to interview you. Your words of wisdom and advice is definitely invaluable for all practicing business analysts.

      Thanks for wishing me luck!

  3. Luba Luchinskaya says:

    I absolutely love all of the Yamo’s podcasts, and this one is one of my favorite. Thank you Yamo and Howard for the opportunity to learn from your experience and I’m looking forward to next episodes.

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Luba. Please explore all the episodes, as each of them is packed with tips and insights to help you in your practice.

  4. […] 1 – >; 10ish Things I wish I knew Before I became a BA, AuthorCast with Howard Podeswa […]

  5. […] 1 – >; 10ish Things I wish I knew Before I became a BA, AuthorCast with Howard Podeswa […]

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