Recently, we asked some of our top Business Analysts in Financial Services to answer a few questions about their field and what they would recommend as Business Analyst best practices for professionals interested in breaking into the Financial Services industry. Below you will find their responses:
BA Best Practices Q&A
Q: What education would you recommend for an up and coming Business Analyst in Financial Services?
Mike: There’s not really any one particular educational background or path that I’d suggest. It’s more about having a skillset that allows and encourages an individual to think creatively, deductively, and without prejudice.
Ram B.: A Masters in Information Systems with a good grade (I would say B+ / A). This field gives an in depth idea of what Systems really means and how Information correlates to the various Systems in context. This field also gives a good exposure to what are the traditional and modern methodologies, tools and techniques used for managing information based systems. Key concepts covered: Human Computer Interaction, System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process - conventional and latest, Change Request Management, Data Base Management Systems, and Project Management. Additionally, a Master’s in Business Management (MBA) with Finance Major will help if you are aspiring to be a Business Analyst in Financial Services. Undergraduate in Computer Science (I would say B, B+ or A at a minimum).
Ram D.: Case studies and discussion on the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) website are very helpful. Attend the IIBA local chapter meetings whenever possible, it can be very good source of information on Business Analyst best practices.
Q: What are 5 Business Analyst best practices that you would share with BA’s just starting out?
Mike: Active listening, detailed documentation, iterative validation, clear and concise communication, and identify and engage key stakeholders.
Ram B.: Improve interpersonal skills consistently day after day by interacting more with work peers. Be adept with latest tools and techniques available in the market for system analysis, problem solving and quality assurance.
Strive towards "Set Trend" approach rather than "Follow Trend" approach. Consistently upgrade resume with new and renewed skill certifications, example: BAC, PMP.
Ram D.: Identify Key Contributors (people who have information about systems/project) and Stakeholders (people who are effected by the project), very early. Obtain access for any systems/databases during onboarding time, doing so may avoid delays once the project is active. It is a good practice to email status to Reporting Manager, towards the end of every week, on key items that were worked on for the previous week and projected work for the upcoming week. Have a status meeting with team at least once a week to follow up on action items. Fill the timesheet for appropriate projects within the company.
Q: What do you think are the best methods for capturing and defining stakeholder requirements?
Mike: I’ve found that small working groups tend to work best. Typically, this would mean no more than 5 or 6 subject matter experts or stakeholders interacting with a team of analysts (2 or 3 at most) with one analyst acting as the session leader and the others as observers and note-takers.
Ram B.: Manage requirements using divide and rule strategy. The requirements will be covered more optimally when the scope is segmented. Set up as many Q&A sessions as needed with the Stakeholders. Questions must be articulate or the responses could be late as stakeholders need to further investigate for proper answers. Email serves as a powerful communication tool to archive important Stakeholder interactions. Follow standard document templates for documenting Business/Functional Requirements. Always strive towards providing holistic solutions.
Ram D.: First, understand the existing process/system from Contributors/Subject Matter Expert’s point of view (AS IS Analysis). Second, understand the End State vision from Business User/Stakeholder perspective (TO BE Analysis). Create a process flow, identifying the steps, teams, and dependencies from AS- IS state through TO- BE state. Review the process flow, for approval, with Project Manager and Stakeholders and fill in with any missing pieces. Once approved, each step in the flow will lead to requirements for business analysts in financial services and tasks to track for PM.
Q: How do you best provide end-user support/post-implementation reviews?
Mike: I believe providing end-users with a single point of contact for support and issue resolution is best. Whether it’s an individual or a small team of people dedicated to supporting a client, quicker response times in conjunction with knowledgeable support resources will go a long way increasing end-user satisfaction.
Ram B.: Always have Pre-Deployment, Deployment & Post-Deployment Checklists created.
• Keep the stakeholders updated with the deployment dates way in advance (at least 3 weeks in advance)
• Provide necessary training to the Stakeholders - Using Wireframes, pictorial representations. As they say - "a picture speaks a thousand words" is quite true per my experiences with Clients
• Create user guides/manuals for stakeholder future use
• Have Stakeholders perform a smoke test in production to see for any downstream impacts
• Provide support post production for at least 2 weeks (this is also based on the Service Level Agreement with the Client)
• Document any Change Requests resulting from the code move
• Prioritize the Change Requests on basis of Billing, Scope and Urgency
Ram D.: Walkthrough the requirements document and demo the feature within the application to the business users after implementation. Ideally, it should be a 100% match, if not, there may be a possibility of some requirements being missed. If there are any issues/missed requirements, prioritize them with business and work with Project Manager through change management process.
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Whitridge Associates provides expert talent to a diverse group of technology companies, financial services, defense contractors and healthcare providers throughout the country. With a history of over 20 years of unparalleled service to both our clients and consultants, Whitridge is one of the most highly regarded technology staffing companies in Greater Boston. Whitridge Associates has been awarded with TechServe Alliance’s Excellence Award, Inavero’s Best of Staffing for both clients and consultants, and was recognized as one of the Fast Growing Staffing Firms by Staffing Industry Analysts.
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This blog post was written by Danielle Higgins, Social Media Coordinator with contributions from Molly MacNeill, Senior Staffing Specialist