Team Chronicles: An interview with Leonie McHugh our Lead BA – Part 1

 

In this interview, we will learn more about Leonie’s background, her approach to business analysis, and some of the challenges she has faced in her role. 


How did you decide to become a business analyst? 

“I think that like most BAs, I didn’t set out on a path to become a business analyst. It was a profession I fell into. I started out working in a call centre in an IT company, and that lay a good foundation for me. I built up all the communication and interpersonal skills that you’d need as a BA. I decided after 5 years to try something new so studied part time to become a systems tester. 

When I started a new role as a systems tester it involved analysis of system issues and their root-causes. Again, communication was key to that role. You need to have the ability to clearly articulate those issues and the root causes you have identified. This can be quite challenging especially when you have different levels of stakeholders, who may need to hear the message in a different way. It was in this role where I first learned what a BA did, because they would have been one of the stakeholders I would have had to converse with during testing. 

As I learned more about the BA role, I really felt it was a role that was suited to me personally and also from the skills I had built up over the years. I’m quite analytical about things in general so this type of role would be a good outlet for me. I did 5 years of testing and then went back to part time study a second time to become a BA. And I have been a BA ever since. So as you can see it wasn’t a path I set out on, but it was where I was meant to end up.”  

You said communication; what else is part of the typical responsibilities of a business analyst? 

“The BA is responsible for getting the thoughts out of people’s heads and on to paper. This could be about a system, a business process, a strategy, a customer journey, etc.  

The first steps will always involve discovery and research. So that could be talking to those stakeholders; it could be looking at documentation; it could be looking at systems that are already there if they’re looking to replace it with a newer version. 

Following discovery, you are gathering and analysing the data or information. From there you’re able to identify what problems there are and what possible opportunities there are to improve them. 

Once you have done all of the above you need to be able to present that back to the stakeholders. You have done all of this good work but how do you help the stakeholders understand it. Presentation skills will be key here. 

Finally, if you have agreed a solution, you may be responsible for helping to implement that solution. This could involve coordinating UAT testing, user training, business readiness, etc. 

Can you tell us about the key skills required, then? 

“Not meaning to repeat myself, but communication skills are a must have. If you are able to interact with different stakeholders and personalities well, then you will have a huge advantage. 

Analytical thinking and problem-solving. You go in and identify problems, but can you think of opportunities or ways to solve them?  

Time and task management. Ability to plan out your tasks/activities and assess what you need to achieve them i.e. stakeholder time, access to a system, supporting documentation, software, etc. 

Adaptability. In the world of a BA things can change quiet a lot. How are you with change? Are you adverse to it or do you embrace it? 

There will be times when you may need to build up domain knowledge or technical knowledge dependant on the assignment, but if you have all of the above you will be on the best foot to get started.” 

In the 2nd part of our interview with Leonie, we will learn more about her background, her approach to business analysis, and some of the challenges she has faced in her role. 

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