Steven Gara

As a practicing Business Analyst for over 13 years with a CBAP certification from the IIBA and a Master's Degree from Cornell, Steve has been working most recently for a large company in the healthcare field. In whatever small spare time he has, he usually plays musical instruments or hangs out at the local gym, keeping himself in shape for whatever challenges come his way.

9 Points to Weigh Ahead of Your Next BA Role

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There’s a strong demand for business analysts out there, which means you could find yourself in the sweet spot of having a number of opportunities to pick from. If you do, don’t jump too fast. Take the time to consider these points as you evaluate your offers. Remember, it’s as important for you to be comfortable with your employer as they are with you. So when you’re searching for your next job, take a look at: The company’s recruiting process,… continue…

Why Business Analysts Should Value Business Models

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As a business analyst, have you ever come across a project where you had to collect requirements and help design a solution for a business group, but every time you talked to someone, you seemed to get different, often conflicting, explanations of how the business works? Most experienced Business Analysts have faced this at one time or another. Many end users only know a narrow slice or view of the business in their areas. Rarely do they understand the whole,… continue…

The Basics of the Business Analyst Career Road Map

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People interested in a career in business analysis should check the International Institute of Business Analysis’ Business Analyst Career Road Map. It outlines the opportunities available and is designed to help you identify your best options based on your experience. For instance, those seeking to break into business analysis that have backgrounds in business, sales, finance or programming can choose between jobs such as Functional Analyst, Service Request Analyst, Agile Analyst, Systems Analyst, Business Systems Analyst and Business Requirements Analyst/Requirements… continue…

How to Use Office Politics to Your Advantage

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Interaction skills (sometimes referred to as “office politics”) are one of the many soft skills employers consider to be important qualities of a Business Analyst. The Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK) divides interaction skills into three broad areas: facilitation and negotiation, leadership and influencing, and teamwork. It’s critical that BAs possess these skills so they can navigate politics in order to build consensus on a project, and to mitigate conflicts. The point of these skills isn’t so much to… continue…

Why Is SIPOC Important for Business Analysis?

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When performing any process discovery or improvement activity, one first needs to know about the big picture and understand how it fits into the business. In this regard, SIPOC provides a simple framework. It provides structure for my notes from requirement gathering sessions. In the Six Sigma world, this is also known as Value Stream Mapping. What is SIPOC anyway? SIPOC is a high-level view of the “as is” state of a process under investigation. Typically, a simple data collection… continue…

Success Tips for Business Analysis Contractors

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In a webinar from the International Institute of Business Analysis, Laurie Ryan gave some great advice on being a contractor Business Analyst, and shared some effective ways of succeeding from job to job. If you’re a contractor now, or are thinking of becoming one, here are some of Laurie’s nice, handy pieces of advice to keep in mind. Ask hiring managers as many questions as you want. They should be able to give you any information you need. If you… continue…

Solutions to Six Common Hurdles BAs Face

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Usually in a System Development LifeCycle the requirements elicitation phase is right at the beginning — or at least should be, no matter what the methodology: Agile, Waterfall and everything in between. All Business Analysts know that it’s a crucial phase. However, since these are very focused sessions, it’s still not without its problem areas. This article will highlight six of the most common hurdles that are encountered by Business Analysts, and show how they can be solved, or at… continue…

BAs Can Use This Tool to Help Guide Their Careers

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According to the International Institute of Business Analysis, 2013 is the “Year of Your Career.” That means the association is focusing on providing its members with tools and resources that will help them succeed. To support this goal, the IIBA introduced the Business Analysis Competency Assessment in April. It’s designed to evaluate abilities in business analysis based on a standard set of relevant skills. It does this by analyzing answers to a series of questions that are aligned to A… continue…

Human Resources and Data Analytics

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Much as it’s changed the landscape for marketing and finance, Big Data can transform any business unit into a strategic powerhouse. Many experts say that Human Resource Analytics and Systems — basically the workforce-related metrics that can offer companies valuable information about their talent pool — is the next to undergo such a transformation. But HR professionals aren’t known as the most tech-savvy bunch — so are they ready to assume a more data-oriented, technical role? What can analytics do… continue…

5 Steps to Becoming a Business Analyst

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Laura Brandenburg, owner of the website www.bridging-the-gap.com, is known for offering highly valuable information on becoming a business analyst. I asked her to provide this article on five steps to becoming a BA, which she describes as a journey in getting to know yourself and what your interests are. At the end, I add some of the big potential rewards that can come from your working in the field. Note that these steps apply to any experience level and at… continue…