How Data Mapping got me into Business Analysis


What is Business Analysis? 

That’s the question I first asked myself when asked to carry out the Business Analysis tasks on an operational change project.  The company I worked for had been taken over and needed to migrate all of their existing business onto a new system.  I was so eager to get involved in something new that I said ‘yes’ on the spot and decided I would figure out exactly what Business Analysis was later. I had recently started being seconded to Change Projects as a Subject Matter Expert on the business systems, products and processes. Later that day, I took to the internet in search of information about Business Analysis.

That’s when I first came across the International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®). The IIBA helps the business analysis community to grow, and improve their professional practice and develop their careers.  I discovered that the IIBA defines Business Analysis as the practice of enabling change in an organisation by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.

I’ll never forget how relieved I felt when a colleague shared their copy of BABOK (A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of knowledge).  The guide introduced me to the business analysis knowledge areas, tasks, underlying competencies, techniques and perspectives on how to approach business analysis.  It’s been a constant source of guidance throughout my Business Analysis career.

Modelling Business Data

I was assigned to the Data Migration team within the project and was given the task of mapping the data so that it could be migrated from the old system onto the new one.  The IT Team where in the midst of defining the rules to convert the data.  They needed me to check and document any gaps in the data conformity to existing business rules and processed so that any anomalies could be resolved.  Initially I felt overwhelmed because I didn’t know where to start.  However, other more experienced members of the team assured me that the Data Model they had would help me understand the data mapping.

A Data Model is an abstract Model that shows the things that the business needs to know about, rules about that data and relationship between the different elements of the data.  It provides additional rigour and gives a deeper insight into the business and ensures that you can cross reference other modelling activities.

Undeniably, the data model gave me details about how the data should be used to meet the end user requirements.  This really helped me check that we had a like for like match between the two systems.  I found that there were lots of additional data fields in the old system and ones that just weren’t compatible with the new system.  For example, there were customer address fields that had values in a single field that needed to be migrated into separate fields in the new system.  With so many data migration issues to work through I had to prioritise them so that the most business critical issues could be tackled first.

Data Modelling helps deliver successful change

The data models, along with the knowledge I had built up about what each field was used for on the old system, made it simpler to discuss any anomalies with the business and IT.  I’ve no doubt that this structured approach helped me to identify the possible outcomes so that decisions could be made about how and if the data could be moved to the new system.

I had to engage with all the different consumers of the data to make sure that if the proposal was to ignore the data going forward, it wouldn’t result in problems later on.  This all had to be documented and signed off and I am sure that it simply would not have been possible to fully specify the data requirements if we had not first analysed and understood the data.

I had an overwhelming sense of achievement as I supported the business through that first system migration.  I thought I might be returned to my role within the business after the system migration was complete but to my delight I was kept on and offered the position of trainee Business Analyst.  I could see that through the use of business analysis techniques, like data modelling, I could help my organisation deliver successful change, ultimately enabling them to operate their business on the new system.



Our easy to follow online course which provides a structured overview of business analysis and what it takes to become an excellent Business Analyst. Perfect for Entry Level BAs, Career Changers or for anyone interested in Business Analysis. It’s also great refresher course for Experienced BAs.

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