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TBAC 014 | BA Interviews, Season 1 : Jonathan Babcock – Using project patterns and more

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo13

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“Patterns have helped us overcome some of the biggest challenges in a shorter time. Using patterns is one of the smartest ways to harness the knowledge base in a given domain.”

That was one of the key takeaways from TheBACoach podcast interview with Jonathan Babcock. In this episode I got the opportunity to discuss Jonathan’s background, his advice and tips for the BA community, and his journey from starting up as a QA analyst, and transitioning to project manager, application architect, Business Analyst and  a BA manager recently. He is also is the host for a popular BA blog “Practical Analyst (link below)” where he shares practical and simple tips to be a better practitioner / analyst.

Lots to learn in this episode folks, so hang tight… and here is Jonathan Babcock:

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Why he likes being a BA?

“I love being a business analyst because I love a good puzzle. I appreciate the variety of learning opportunities that business analysis presents. I really  enjoy being positioned more or less equally between the technology and the business, and in helping to identify how people, process and technology can be leveraged to solve business problems.”

Here is a sneak peek of the episode:

  • His transition from being a QA, to Architect, to BA.
  • Treating business analysis as a puzzle
  • Why and how business analysis at the right time can save time and money
  • His experience as a Business Analyst in Telecom, CRM and other domains
  • How he solves challenges surrounding:
    • Solution driven stakeholders
    • Symptomatic business analysis
    • Analysis paralysis
    • Systems on the verge of being over engineered
  • His career advancement tips relating to:
    • Taking charge of your career
    • Recognizing, journaling, and using patterns
    • Consulting as an option
    • Establishing skills that set you apart
  • Productivity tips that are very valuable and useful
  • Why enterprise analysis is his favorite knowledge area
  • How the business analysis competency model by IIBA has helped his organization

Insightful quotes from this episode:

“Why dont we look at the process… its not always IT.”

“I dont know if I have a project that is my favorite; maybe its where a stakeholder has a preconceived notion or the one we get right.” 

“When you have solution driven stakeholders they may request for specific and complex technical change, where a process or people change could have made it happen.”

“Sometimes you have to take off the solution hat and put on the problem hat.”

 ”Lets make sure we are not solving one symptom”

“Lets not over engineer our systems to compensate for process issues or people issues”

 ”Making business analysis a team sport is part of the solution.”

 ”Focus on breadth before depth.”

 ”I do my work and toss it over to you and lets hope its good (avoid this).”

“There is no law in a BA talking to a designer earlier… and get some idea.. “

 ”Try to tear down those figurative wall.. use you team members as a sounding board.”

 ”Dont try to do so much don’t presume so much in your requirements.”

 ”Sounds cliched.. but take ownership of your own future”

 ”You need “A” the plan and “B” the will to go out and chase it.”

 ”Discuss the available paths of progression”

 ”Learn tools; something a little out of the ordinary and that may set you apart.”

 ”The distinction between novice and experienced BA is the ability to recognize and apply patterns and solve everyday problems.” 

 ”Take a lot of notes… “

 ”You can make notes and add tags to pull them up later (with Evernote for eg).”

 ”When I don’t want to make the same mistake again, I go back and look for whats worked in the past (for a given stakeholder for example).”

 ”The templates that BAs use are really just a catalog of patterns.” 

 ”With Enterprise Analysis we could avert a lot of request for projects.”

 ”We’ve been both business analysts and business advocates.”

 ”Competency model from the IIBA® has been  a great extension.”

“The sky is the limit with what good BAs can accomplish.”

Items mentioned in the show:

Jonathan Babcock in brief:

Jonathan Babcock has spent most of his 10+ year career doing business analysis in one form or another; first in telecom/broadband, and more recently in wholesale/retail distribution. Jonathan loves learning from and networking with other BAs and considers himself somewhat of a business analysis and solution delivery methodology junkie. When he isn’t on the clock, he is likely to be found reading, “tweeting” or blogging about business analysis at PracticalAnalyst.com.

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

Enjoy the show!


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I am a passionate and practicing business analyst, author, and blogger from Toronto, Canada. I host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. Musically driven by Eagles, Lucky Ali, and Linkin Park. Huge fan of Colts, Leafs, and Indian cricket team. To be in the loop for latest member-only resources, and news from The BA Coach be sure to sign-up for our free eNewsletter. View more BA passion painted with digital ink by Yamo!    

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie Metcalfe October 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Thanks Jonathan for the podcast. I like your tips especially use of Evernote.
I recently started using this product and really find it helpful for all my note taking. I like the concept of looking for patterns and identifying ways of reuse on other projects. I have really seen how EA projects can avert a lot of projects.

Practical and insightful for sure :).

Katie

Reply

Jonathan Babcock October 6, 2011 at 1:50 am

Thanks for listening and for the feedback, Katie! I am glad you found some of my ramblings useful! :)

It was a great time, and Yamo’s ‘cast is a great resource for BA’s!

Reply

Jonathan Babcock October 6, 2011 at 1:41 am

Thanks again for inviting me to participate in the podcast, Yamo! You’re a great host, and I had a good time rapping with you about business analysis – a topic we’re both passionate about.

You’ve got a really good thing going with the podcast. What an interesting range of guests who’ve participated so far, and each has had something interesting and unique to contribute!

Thanks for including me, and I’ll certainly look forward to your future offerings.

Reply

Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo October 6, 2011 at 3:08 am

You are most welcome, Jonathan. I look forward to doing more shows in future with you. We should certainly take the project patterns thing to another level, and create an entire episode around it. :) Will keep you posted on that.

Thanks for being an informative and insightful guest.

Reply

Craig Brown October 7, 2011 at 10:28 am

Good interview guys. Interesting perspectives.

JB, found your evolving understanding of what’s important particularly good. Looking back at where you have come from, where do you see yourself going?

Reply

Jonathan Babcock October 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Thanks, Craig! It’s hard to say what’s on the horizon at this point. I have an opportunity right now to manage a team of business analysts, which has been an opportunity to stretch some new muscles but keep a foot in the BA role.

I think a cool thing about doing business analysis is that it sets you up for a variety of opportunities, whether it be consulting, strategic business analysis, project management, product management, or leadership within the lines of business. Whatever I end up doing, I imagine I won’t get too far from the BA space.

Reply

Bennett Mendes October 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Enjoyed the podcast Jonathan and Yamo, chockfull of valuable take-away tips.

Was waiting for for a BA to address the ‘ paralysis of analysis ‘ syndrome as a productivity challenge to be overcome and JB did so superbly.

Amazing how much ground was covered in such a short time.

Cheers and keep up the informative interviews !

Reply

Jonathan Babcock October 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Appreciate the comment, Bennett.

It seems like as BA’s we are always trying to manage that tension between “good enough” and the analysis paralysis that comes with thinking you can’t do anything until you know everything.

I touch on the topic in a few posts on my site, too, the most recent being The Business Analysis Balancing Act.

Again thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! I know I appreciate the feedback and am sure Yamo does too.

Reply

sukanya October 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm

The interview has excellent tips for new BAs. Thanks a lot Jonathan & Yamo for doing this interview.

Reply

Jonathan Babcock October 25, 2011 at 1:42 am

Thank you, Sukanya! I’m glad you found it worthwhile!

Reply

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