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.

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…

BABOK 2.0: The Business Analysis Bible

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The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK 2.0) is literally the guide to the profession of business analysis. Every business analyst finds it useful, and none should be without it. The guide literally sets the standard for the practice of BA, and its value lies in the fact that it’s written exclusively for practitioners. BABOK 2.0 (work is underway on version 3.0) offers six broad areas of business analysis. Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring: This area explains how to effectively plan… continue…

Key Transferable Skills for Business Analysts

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There’s always debate about which skills in business analysis are the most important and most transferable. The answers always seem to come back to these: Communications Skills Interpersonal Skills Technical Skills Research and Analytical Skills Organizational Skills If you join the International Institute of Business Analysis, you’ll have access to A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (the BABOK  Guide) and the underlying business analysis competencies it lists. Here’s more detail on the transferable skills, which should help if… continue…

How to Build a Project’s Business Case

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One of the many tasks business analysts are inevitably called on to do is create a business case. As defined by the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge, a business case justifies the investment required to deliver a proposed solution. A business case is part of the due diligence process. By measuring the benefits, costs and risks associated with the investment being made in a particular project or product, it assesses and evaluates the options available to solve the business issue.… continue…

Opening Day? Analytics Tools to Predict the World Series Now

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Billy Bean and Theo Epstein are right: Baseball isn’t all about skills, tactics and chewing tobacco bubble gum, it’s about numbers, and maybe even numbers first. It’s Big Data in the big leagues, baby. Which means if you’re trying to figure out how optimistic — or nervous — you should be about your team’s performance this season, analytics can help. For those of you who don’t want to crunch your numbers via nostalgic pencil and paper or Microsoft Excel, there… continue…