I’ll admit that I paid a lot of money to get my BA skills. I wish that I could also say all of my money was well spent.
I was three years into my undergraduate IT program, when I ran across an ad from a private technical “college” that got me interested. The ad promised me so much; it was part time, they guaranteed me a successful career, they had a fancy office in a downtown high-rise, and it came at a pretty good price. How could I resist?
I took the bait
I was excited because I thought I’d found a shortcut to success. It wasn’t long before I realized that I’d been duped. The courses were completely unfocused and very “fluffy” (i.e. really general with no real substance), and many of the instructors didn’t know what they were talking about. All of the common problems I now expect from a company that knows how to sell, but not how to deliver.
And what do you think they told me when I asked for a refund? Choice words.
I got burned… but you don’t have to.
There are no shortcuts to BA success. People will try to sell you a cheap and quick way to become a Business Analyst, but the only path to sustainable BA success has three mandatory ingredients:
The 3 Key Ingredients of BA Success
1 | Ability
Do you have the technical aptitude AND the people skills you need to be a successful BA?
You don’t need the engineering might of Nikola Tesla or the persuasive prowess of Robert Cialdini. But you do need the ability to learn the basics of how software works (not as hard as you might think), and the ability to convince people that your ideas are worth their time and attention (much harder than you think).
If you’re stronger technologically, then you can pursue more of a Business Systems Analyst (BSA) role. Being more business/people-oriented means that you can focus more on a pure BA role. The BSA role is usually higher paying than the pure BA role because it tends to be harder (there are some exceptions to this).
Do you have the time AND motivation you need to build yourself up?
Nothing worth money comes easily, or for free.
If you want to be paid well for your skills, then you have to dedicate the time to do the work and build up the motivation to endure the hardships that come with assembling the right skills. Don’t look for the easy way out. It doesn’t work.
And the wise old wisdom always applies: You get what you pay for. Don’t trust anyone who offers you a free (or cheap) lunch. Pay for what works, not for what’s cheap. Those two things don’t come in the same package.
Do you have the proper training AND experience you need to deliver value?
You need to be trained, yes. But you also need to make sure you get the real world experience you need to deepen and refine your BA/BSA skills.
A common mistake some people make is to over-train themselves as a way of compensating for their lack of experience. Bad idea. Get yourself trained well, but don’t confuse training for the experience. You need them both; they bring different types of value to your skill-set.
Where Are Your Gaps?
Most people already have at least half of these things, they just need to fill in the pieces that are missing.
Some people have the people skills but need to work on their technical aptitude. Others are thrown helplessly into the BA role and get the experience but are never been trained properly. Some have all the time in the world, but no motivation to push themselves further.
One thing is not a substitute for the other. You need them all to be successful in the long run.
What’s Next For You?
You need to identify where your gaps are and dedicate your resources to filling those gaps as best you can. That’s how BA success actually works. It applies to any type of success if you really think about it.
Now it’s your turn to do an honest self-assessment and chart your path forward.
- Be wary of the “too-good-to-be-true” promises that people make to you. If you don’t know any better, you will unknowingly fall into the trap of taking “the easy way out” and waste your money in the process. This might be hard to believe, but not everything on the internet is true.
- Most people have the key ingredients needed to succeed as a BA, they just need to identify and fill in the gaps that they’re missing. Don’t waste your money on training if what you really need is experience. Don’t waste your time reading motivation books if what you really need is technical aptitude. One thing can’t substitute for the other. Figure out what you’re missing and work towards fixing it.