I have an appraisal objective this year to identify the skills and techniques I believe are needed in my role as a BA. The next step is to create a scheme for rating myself against them and then, finally, to perform the rating itself.

This is similar to a skills matrix that most teams I have worked on have had to one extent or another. I don’t think many people would disagree it’s a useful tool to have, but the problem tends to be that people have a tendency to devise them from scratch each time. This is time consuming and inevitably a lot of effort is spent constructing the matrix itself rather than getting to the whole point of why it exists. That is to help us get better at what we do and to discuss the techniques themselves.

My approach has been to start by looking at what materials and resources already exist. We can be sure others have been through the process also and have created at least a basis for us.

Further, there are professional bodies representing our industry. After all, if I wanted to identify the skills and techniques that say, a surveyor used, The obvious place to start would be the professional body for surveyors – the RICS.

I have been an IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysts) member for some time so my first port of call was the IIBA’s BABOK. Specifically the ‘Techniques’, ‘Underlying Competencies’ and ‘Other Sources of Business Analysis Information’ sections. This gave a good list, if a little generic in places.

I then moved on to look at what the IIBA’s UK equivalent body – the British Computer Society have to offer. This happened to coincide with me undertaking the Business Analysis BCS training pathway (part of ISEB as it used to be called).

The various BCS BA courses all have a detailed syllabus of topics. The BA pathway is made up of a set of mandatory and optional courses. Therefore combining all of these must give a complete (or very close to complete) coverage of the techniques methods tools required by a BA.   Even better, BCS have a predefined scheme for evaluating an individual against the topics according to:

  • Levels of knowledge
  • Levels of skill and responsibility

I now felt I was really getting somewhere. But to make the interpretation of the information easier, it needed a diagram to map out the commonalities. It needed an ‘at a glance’ view of all the topics across-the-board – and how they link. Some topics appear to a lesser or greater extent in more than one course, but can still be grouped under half-a-dozen or so major ‘themes’.

This was conducted as a post-it-note-exercise initially, with each post-it representing an individual syllabus topic. These were then grouped:

Post it note exercise - Evolving the BA Skills and Techniques Under 'Themes'

And then transferred into a diagram within an Enterprise Architect Model, showing the major ‘themes’ and ‘linkages’:

Skills Matrix Model - Grouped Themes

The finished list, with marking scheme (marks yet to be added) is available here. The list was generated simply by running a report against the Enterprise Architect model.

From here I went on to rate myself against each heading, and thereby complete the exercise.

Final Note

What is possibly missing in the list above, is a way of relating the entries on the list back to the high-level groupings on the diagram.  Having said that, it is possibly easier and more productive to work from the diagram itself and annotate it while rating yourself and then transfer the results onto the list afterwards. It should also be fairly easy to plug this work into a training and development plan.

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