Moving Forward

In the Week 3 Blog I finished off with “Moving Forward” in getting the CBAP designation.  Now how do I tie this week’s theme in?

Enterprise Analysis, like sky-diving, is not something BA’s commonly do today.  The irony is that the IIBA has it highly valued as a Knowledge Area (KA) in the BABOK. Even more ironic is that most BA’s would describe the exercise of doing Enterprise Analysis as interesting, challenging, and even fun.  The BA’s take, I suspect for most, is that their enthusiasm for this KA stems from the possibility of doing something new.

BA’s may have all sorts of fears when it comes to applying for the CBAP, however when it comes to moving forward and taking on new challenges on the job they are among the most fearless – often embracing change,  being early adapters,  and champions for new ideas and approaches.

Or maybe we are just some of the more outspoken, opinionated people on a project?

Project Analysis to Enterprise Analysis – not a huge leap

BA’s may be some of the best placed people to understand how to define the “Business Need”.  They already work with the business at a project level to refine the definition of need (requirements).  So why is it so difficult for employers to translate that “up” and have BA’s at the Enterprise level?

As well, being the facilitators between Business and IT, BA’s are often in the best position to quickly assess capability gaps.  With firsthand experience at a granular level, they are able to quickly identify the high level warning signs suggesting potential roadblocks in addressing the identified business need.

More often than not, Business relies on the BA to use their experience to help determine the Solution Approach.  BA’s are typically asked to look or even demonstrate multiple solution alternatives and suggest which one bests suits the Business’s needs.

Then, given a set of constraints, like budget, or timelines, the BA helps define Solution Scope.  Once again their necessary / strong soft-skills allow them to reach across the project team to gain consensus on what capabilities will be delivered.  BA’s help to provide context for the solution being implemented; define what or who will be supported by the initiative; even help decide whether implementation should one-time or iterative. In many cases, the BA is in the best position to identify if the capabilities being addressed will be of benefit to other business areas and their capability development.

A Case for Business

With the BA’s involvement in all the other areas of project preparation, formally participating in Enterprise Analysis and creation of the Business Case just makes sense.  Typically the BA is consolidating the information for the business on the solution option comparisons – the value add to the business based on a deployed solution versus the cost to develop and operate it; benefits, costs, risk assessment, and results measurement (what KPI’s will be used to measure project success, estimating ROI).

So why aren’t more BA’s doing it?  I honestly can’t speak to that.  If you have the answer – publicize it. Please use the comment space below to share your thoughts and comments.

Picking up where I left off last week and the travel theme, every good trip involves some amount of planning.  Seeking the CBAP, working full-time and trying to balance a life outside of work and school, definitely involves planning – the good, the bad, and the adhoc…

20% Planning

Per the CBAP exam breakdown, around 20% of the questions focus on Click to continue

I am editing this blog for the 3rd time while travelling between my old hometown and my new hometown.  It’s a journey I have made several dozen times in the past few years, yet one that when I originally left swore I would only do but rarely – special occasions (really special occasions).  

So, what does seeking my CBAP have to do with this trip?

Why This Trip Now?

Well, for starters, this is not the first time I have started the process to seek my CBAP.  After originally going through getting references, and explaining to my circles why certification would prove to be important (to progress in my role, to grow professionally, and few people had it) I stopped.  The lack of support from those around me leant credence to my decision not to seek the CBAP.  Truth be told, I figured that I was still growing on my professional journey, and did not want to be forced to pick my final stop too soon.

Soon has since come and gone.  It’s been several years of roaming, with an increasing level of dissatisfaction in the quality and quantity of destinations and activities available to me.  My journey has evolved into the mundane:  one locale is blending into the next, with attractions lacking any originality so as to make me want to sleep for the duration of this journey.  I see others enjoying themselves, focusing on the attractions, enjoying the novelty of the new or the comforts of the not so new, and I envy them.  How can I get back that spark that makes travelling, even back and forth between the old and the new, interesting, engaging, or worthwhile?  Better yet, if I go on this journey to seek the CBAP, what do I have to lose?

Trip Prep, Pick a Destination

Recently I had an epiphany (maybe I was just mad).  I suddenly had the driving need to get my CBAP. I take my role and the CBAP designation seriously.  By getting my CBAP, I want to help ensure a high standard of quality in the execution of our deliverables and promotion of the role. When a project derails, it’s not the PM the team or the sponsors look to.  BA’s are in an unenviable position of being the most visible targets since throughout the project, in our role as requirements gatherer, facilitator, communicator, etc., we are the most visible to all stakeholders.

The IIBA CBAP Application Gauntlet Run

To embark on my quest to seek the CBAP I looked at all the possible vendors out in the market.  I weighed how much I would be out of pocket, the value of my time investment to the worth I would get out of the designation, the value of my time to be expended studying both to get PD hours and the certification itself.  I also levied my overall levels of discipline, engagement, and enthusiasm for pursuing the CBAP; which, given my current mindset of being tired of wandering aimlessly into less than mediocre sites, are pretty weak.  I chose what I figured would be the most time efficient, cost effective opportunity – The BA Coach CBAP bootcamp.

Interestingly, Yamo, the director of the bootcamp and creator of the BA Coach, interviewed me first.  As opposed to other places, I couldn’t believe this guy wouldn’t let me purchase my tickets first…

We had lunch – Now admittedly I have been following The BA Coach and the podcasts to some extent over the past year.  I always found them interesting and the concept was different because (added bonus) it’s free.

It was probably the first invigorating discussion I had on Business Analysis as a career path, as a professional role, as anything, in a very long time.  I was hooked. I was actually working hard at being accepted into the bootcamp.  Instead of thinking that I just had to chat and prove I wasn’t a nut case, I actually found myself engaged in the conversation and admitting to my views (which for some are radical) on the role of the BA (i.e. we are equal not subject to PM’s) and to my biggest fear – completing the application and getting rejected.

Immediately, Yamo was in “coach” mode and was helping me organize my experiences into manageable segments which I could then document in a realistic manner.  I have done so many things across so many projects, based on how I was interpreting the level of accountability the IIBA looks for, I was worried my application would be 40 pages or more.

I walked away from our lunch revitalized for my next adventure (and accepted into bootcamp :) ).

Cut to the Chase

So here I am again, at my departure station.  Heading from what is my current location (Stagnaville) off to parts (somewhat) unknown; however this time I am going with other travellers.  We all have an arrival point, a schedule, and are guaranteed interesting adventures along the way.

First Stop – CBAP Boot Camp  

Held over 2 weekends, juggling busy days at work with evening calls to complete group work, last week, 12 of us completed the first Toronto edition of “The BA Coach” CBAP bootcamp.  Glassy-eyed, we all (yes all) agreed to embark on a 90 day odyssey to actually achieve our designation.

I Need to Go Somewhere – But Where?

So here I am, full of anxiety.  Among other issues, I must submit my work history to total strangers.  These people will review my application, validate my references, count the “validity” of my close to a decade in work hours, and decide Yay or Nay on whether or not I can write the exam…  Studying, while working full-time and managing a household, is a whole other source of stress to be blogged about over the weeks to come.

During Week I:

  • Slept in the day after bootcamp was over
  • Set my goal for the week:  complete reading the BABOK 2.0
  • Set my objectives:  Ready 50 pages a night for 4 nights and cover 1 KAT Tale per night

Did I meet my goal?  Well, there’s always week 2 and the start of study group.

Stay tuned over the next 12 weeks fellow seekers, as I recap weekly my quest to the CBAP!

~ Hermione