It makes good sense that to understand the context of something, we need a threshold of knowledge about the topic in question. ... Without such knowledge, it becomes difficult to construct a meaningful mental model of what we are working with or talking about.
What is the importance of knowledge in learning business analysis?
Knowledge is what connects information as well as learning together. When we have prior knowledge about an aspect of business analysis, we can apply it to various situations.
The more we engage our prior knowledge, the more likely we are able to learn new skills, solve problems, and improve – and the less likely we are to misinterpret the information we receive.
There are many advantages to building knowledge.
better and faster decision making.
increased rate of innovation.
sharing of specialist expertise.
improved application of skills.
Increase in value to the organisation.
Faster career progression.
1. Building your Business analysis knowledge while you wait
There is often a waiting period from the time we decide to move into a new career. It is not a matter of deciding and waving the wand and you get there.
This is the time of preparation, building knowledge, skills, and practicing. Even if we are not in that new career role yet.
There are a couple of reasons you want to be building your knowledge now while you are waiting for a new role:
Get into the mindset of the new role
Learn the terminology
Build a knowledge base to help apply to situations
Talk the language of the role in your CV, interviews, and emails
You want to build a good knowledge base off which to start your new career role.
However, knowledge is useless unless you use it.
You do not need to be in a business analysis role to put your new-found knowledge into practice.
For example, let's say you learn about the topic cyber security. Are there areas in your current role where you could identify potential issues from your new-found knowledge? Could you educate your team members?
For business analysts, there is a ton of opportunities to learn and gather knowledge while you are waiting for your first role.
One of the great sources, and often overlooked by people, is the IIBA knowledge Hub. People often feel the price of being a member (currently around $139/year) is not worth it. Pity because you are missing out on such valuable content that you would not get anywhere else for that price.
Lets have a look at the benefits of the IIBA knowledge Hub.
2. IIBA Knowledge Hub
This video from the IIBA gives a good overview of the knowledge hub.
Listen to the video and then continue reading to see how you can use the knowledge hub elements to build your business analysis knowledge.
Access to a digital version of the IIBA's BABOK
BABOK stands for the Business Analysis Book of Knowledge. It is a book about the approach to business analysis. Reading the BABOK will help you to start to think like a business analyst, learn the terminology, and understand the context of business analysis.
Also, if you decide to do a certificate in business analysis, then you will need to know the contents of the BABOK.
The digital version helps is broken down into the various knowledge areas and helps you find information faster.
However, reading the BABOK does not make you a business analyst. It is the approach to business analysis and you still need to develop the skills in business analysis.
“How do I” Scenarios
An often overlooked way of learning and gathering knowledge. What if scenarios can help one contextualise knowledge by seeing how other people use their knowledge to solve a problem.
The IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) describes these scenarios as follows:
“How do I” scenarios provide actionable, situational content contributed by leading business analysis professionals. These hands-on examples of business analysis situations provide solutions that can be applied to everyday business analysis practices.
Have a look at the example scenario below from the IIBA membership site
Think about how you could use this to learn business analysis. How could you apply this in your current role? even a non-business analysis role.
Here are a few thoughts:
Practice the skills for a task that you need to do
Volunteer for a project to practice skills learnt.
In a team meeting, help your team to decide what needs to be done using these skills.
Notice also the other knowledge you might gain from this, like what is waterfall and agile.
Lots to learn from these scenarios.
Other knowledge hub benefits include:
Tools and templates
Plenty of opportunity to improve your business analysis knowledge in these.
There is one more knowledge hub resource I think is worth a mention. The Digital Library.
Imagine what it would cost you to have over 10 000 books. At an average price of say $50 that is $500 000 worth of value for you for the IIBA membership price of $139.
Have a look at just some of the titles in the image below.
3. Final words
As mentioned before, reading the BABOK and using these resources does not make you a business analyst. They are only element of building the competency in business analysis.
You also need to develop the other three elements: skills and attributes.
Getting on a good business analysis training course is really important to developing your skills. A good course should consist of the following:
Some form of face-to-face contact that allows for conversation - whether in person or online.
It should provide a theoretical and practical element to it.
Assessments that give rich feedback on your practice - a quiz is not enough.
Through hands-on practice, it should help you build experience in the skills, the knowledge application, and the attributes that can be used in interviews.
Finally, even if you are not in a business analysis role, you should start applying the skills in your current role to further enrich your learning and build more experience.