To Reach Your Career Goals, Map Your Course

In a previous job, I used to travel to Houston, Texas to meet with companies like Exxon and Texaco. I took these trips with a colleague who knew the area and how to get round the city, so I would drive but he provided the navigation. On one of my many trips my colleague did not accompany me. I thought, no problem, we’ve driven this route many times. I am sure I can get to the hotel without a map or formal directions. Wrong! As soon as I started driving, I was lost; I didn’t know the route as well as I thought I did, and was driving blindly around the city, in the dark. I can tell you that I was more than just a little relieved when I finally made it to the hotel.

The moral of the story: no matter how clear you think you are on where you’re going, if you don’t formalize your plans, you won’t get there; certainly not before taking a few wrong turns.

SO how does that relate to your career? Perfectly!

In the April BA Connection newsletter, we discussed the many flavours of business analysis. As you consider where you want to go with your career, you can chose from multiple alternatives. And there isn’t just one path you have to follow to reach your career objectives. Just as with a map, you can choose many different routes to reach your destination. As you proceed on your career journey, you can vary your route, take a different path and still arrive at your ultimate goal. If you find a role you prefer, you can move fairly easily to another one. You just need to identify and develop the skills and knowledge you need to make the transition.

This month, we are pleased to announce the Business Analysis Career Roadmap. International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) has identified the various roles within business analysis and connected the dots in terms of skills and knowledge needed to progress through the various roles. We have defined the roles and responsibilities of various BA titles such as Business Requirements Analyst, Decision Analyst, Business Systems Analyst, Agile Analyst and more.

A benefit of the Career Roadmap is that it gives you a language to speak with your boss and your peers. We’ve given names to the roles and defined them for you. Print out the Roadmap, show it to your boss, take it to your human resources department, and post it on your bulletin board so you can see where you’re going. Read more about it in the article “The Business Analysis Career Roadmap” [link] by Maureen McVey.

Using the BABOK® Guide to Map Your BA Career

Business analysis provides you with the tools you need to help you map out your BA career. By drawing on the knowledge areas and tasks within the A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide), you can identify where you want to go, what you need to do to get there, who do you need to engage, and what options do you have as you move along your professional development path.

Enterprise Analysis

My personal favourite knowledge area! Enterprise Analysis contains the tasks that help you articulate your career “future state” and the measures you need to implement to assess your progress against that goal. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you ever know if you reached your goal!

Business Analysis Planning & Monitoring

What course of action do I need to accomplish my career goals? First step, assess your current strengths and weaknesses by taking the IIBA Business Analysis Competency Assessment™. As part of your membership in IIBA, you can take the 75 question intermediate or senior level assessment to assess your current skills, knowledge and behaviours. Based on the outcome of your assessment, a development plan is generated which identifies gaps and recommends activities you can undertake to improve your performance. Step two – Put a plan in place. Schedule time to work on your gaps—attend a webinar, read a book from the Online Library, or review articles. Step three – monitor your performance against plan. Create milestones. Schedule time for re-planning. It all starts with a personal assessment so if you haven’t taken the BA Competency Assessment, do it now

Elicitation

Engage all the people who can help you in your career—your manager, colleagues, friends, people in other departments. Start with your own self-assessment of your skills then talk to them to get their take on your strengths and gaps. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions; the more honest you are today, the better it will be for your career tomorrow.

Requirements Analysis

Once you’ve done your skills assessment and spoken with your peers, you need to understand what it all means. How do my current strengths map to my goals? Are there opportunities to develop myself in my current work environment? Should I consider moving to a different department? Do I need to look outside my current company? This can be the hardest part of the process because the analysis may identify that you need to make a significant change to realize your career goals.

Requirements Management & Communication

How are you going to continue to engage with the people who are important to your success throughout your career? Communication is critical, so be sure to review your LinkedIn profile and other online listings every six to twelve months. For key contacts, reach out a couple of times a year to send an interesting article, video or website link, or invite them for coffee or lunch.

Solution Assessment and Validation

Look at everything in total, assessing against the information you’ve collected to determine if you will be able to achieve the objectives you’ve identified for yourself. What is the benefit in pursuing your short-term and long-term goals? As the person responsible for monitoring and managing your career, you need to continue to work on it—put a plan in place and schedule time for you!

This is not Waterfall project; it’s an iterative approach to achieving your career goals. You have to start with a plan which you can always adjust as you progress. Many different roads can bring you to your destination. And your career, like life, is about the journey. Good luck!

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