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T-Shaped Skills in Business Analysis—How a Versatile BA Can Improve Your Operations

Business

Oct 6, 2020 - 4 minutes read

1117 Blog Post T Shaped Skills In Business Analysis 416X300
Katarzyna Nowak-Rybka Business Analysis Guild Master

She’s been a part of the Objectivity team since March 2013. As a Business Analyst she’s responsible for delivering software or consultancy services to our clients. In simple words, she’s “making the impossible—possible” by exploring client pain points and helping provide solutions that fit their Business.

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Nowadays, successful business analysis is much more than just requirements management and engineering. Being agile, the ability to overcome conflicts, customer experience focus, and leveraging technological solutions are just a few examples of competencies required by the business. The perception of the Business Analyst role is changing, it’s becoming more holistic, and focuses on facilitating outcomes from the general to the specific. However, one thing hasn’t changed. Core Business Analyst skills such as problem-solving, analytical thinking, communication, self-organisation and willingness to learn are more crucial than ever. They are the foundation for becoming an effective BA and growing in this role. What’s changing is that a broader set of skills may be very beneficial when used well.

The answer to those needs is the concept of T-shaped skills as a metaphor to describe the person’s abilities1, represented in two dimensions:

  • vertical (representing core capabilities and skills)

and

  • horizontal (representing the broader skills—mostly associated with other roles, and working with different parts of the organisation)

This model promotes individuals with broader skillsets. People that are capable of adapting and delivering value in the face of a greater variety of demands. The key points/biggest advantages of this concept are individualisation and profiles.

In the demanding era of digital transformation, I believe there are a few profiles, which are important for the role that are very much connected to the ‘many hats’ the BAs are wearing nowadays. To name some of them:

  • Design

With a growing focus on the discovery and prototyping phases, BAs are expected to help with solution design and the involvement of end users in the process. Focus on customer-centric solutions and end user experience allows for delivering not only an answer to a problem, but a solution that users will use and adapt in their daily routines. Design thinking and an openness to innovation (usually coming from a UX expert), can bring new ideas for solution design. Therefore, these competencies and project roles are very close. Thanks to that fact, people who hold these positions can learn from each other.

  • Technology

Keeping up with the latest technology trends is currently one of the most important skills to facilitate better business outcomes. Cloud solutions, low-code platforms (i.e. Mendix, OutSystems), COTS solutions and chatbots, are just a few examples of areas where the technology shift is heading. Technology awareness and a high-level understanding of various alternatives greatly helps solve busines problems and find opportunities.

Some BAs are proficient with these technologies (as former developers or quality engineers), which can be very beneficial for their growth in this role.

  • Management

It has become a natural path to start a Business Analyst career as a Product Owner. Very often in the projects, BAs work very closely with POs. Product Ownership or Product Management is not about how decisions are made, but about the constant focus on maximising the value of the products, the same as in analysis. Therefore, the BA is a strategic role responsible for representing the interests of the customer in front of the development team.

The second role that works hand in hand with the Business Analyst is the Project Manager. Understanding project metrics, deliverables, and budgets allows for making better decisions when it comes to delivery.

  • Consultancy and Business Development

The responsibilities of a Business Analyst very frequently overlap with the ones of a Consultant. The role of a Consultant is often a career path for an experienced Business Analyst. Customer awareness, business strategy and readiness, big picture thinking and cost-benefit analysis are skills that every Business Analyst will use in a large-scale project.

In the Objectivity BA Practice, we emphasise the development of the fundamental skills for the BA role, but at the same time, we create a culture that encourages continuous learning and an open mindset. It supports the development of individuals with T-shaped skillsets, which is beneficial for all sides: the company, our clients, and our employees.

A Business Analyst with a T-shaped skillset can help an organisation to:

  • build bridges – as they act as a glue that brings a team of a specialists together to achieve greater results,
  • spread the bigger picture – as they are capable of understanding multiple different perspectives,
  • communicate and collaborate better as they tailor the communication approach and perspective within the business,
  • offer wider support when it comes to various stages of a project (discovery, Hypercare etc.)

And, at the same time, for the Business Analyst as an individual, the T-shaped skills:

  • can be used as a concept to build a career path and manage necessary competencies when changing roles,
  • allows for sharing experience and skills with other team members,
  • supports and helps with continuous learning.

Specialisation is extremely important, as without deep knowledge in a professional area, we can’t build trust and effectiveness. On the other hand as BAs we have various backgrounds (technical or non-technical) and skills. A Business Analyst who utilises all their skills will be better equipped for the challenges role can face during digital transformation. BAs with
T-shaped skills can be much more than bridges between IT and business—they can be the people who are capable of bringing greater value inside the team as well as to the organisation.

 

1 Earliest popular reference of the model was published by David Guest in 1991, then used by Tim Brown, CEO of the IDEO. 

Dataops Ebook 416X300
Katarzyna Nowak-Rybka Business Analysis Guild Master

She’s been a part of the Objectivity team since March 2013. As a Business Analyst she’s responsible for delivering software or consultancy services to our clients. In simple words, she’s “making the impossible—possible” by exploring client pain points and helping provide solutions that fit their Business.

See all Katarzyna's posts

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