Becoming Promotable

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Tell me a bit about the book.

The Promotable Business Analyst is about helping business analyst professionals discover and take the next step in their career. Like the project management role, the business analyst role varies widely across organizations and this can make career development a real challenge. The eBook starts with a section on how to start improving your career in small ways, then explores career paths within business analysis, and ends with a section on doing all the normal job-related activities in a career-oriented way. Each part contains a guidebook and multiple worksheets and templates that the reader can use to apply what they read about to their career development. In all there is over 150 pages of guidebook content and 20 worksheets and templates.

How would a project manager find this useful?

From what I’ve been hearing, a lot of project managers are doing business analysis work. We spoke a bit about this last week in the post “Does your PM job include BA work?”.? The Promotable Business Analyst is all about helping you be more career-minded about this sort of activity. It would support a project manager in completing a brief competency assessment of their BA skills and creating a career plan that builds on these skills. We also go into a discussion of combined BA/PM roles, considering both their strengths and weaknesses in terms of individual career progression.

What if a PM is not doing BA work?

To be honest, many of the concepts in The Promotable Business Analyst are universal. And since so much of what project managers and business analyst do is closely related, even the PM who is not looking to build a BA career could find large pieces of value in the content. For example, in part 3 we discuss ways to prepare for a job performance review by completing a self-evaluation of your recent project history. In Part 1, we discuss the pros and cons of various professional development opportunities and provide an in-depth discussion of in-person and online networking as part of your career development. Part 2 is mainly an overview of the types of BA roles that exist today. This could help a PM gain a broader understanding of the BA role and how variations in the role in any given organization might impact their project.

What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to a PM advancing their career?

A lot of professionals tend to separate professional development activities and the work they do every day. As a PM or a BA, your projects are your opportunities to advance and build new experiences. Many of the barriers we find to professional development, such as lack of funds for training, disappear when we start to think about our project experiences as professional development opportunities.? Combine this with a few free webinars, a reference book on a technique, and some informal peer support and you’ve got a low cost, but effective professional development strategy. So, my advice is to develop a career-oriented mindset about your work. This can take the form of practicing a new technique, integrating a new practice, or just working on your soft skills, such as listening, in your next meeting. Every project experience, big or small, is an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t waste it!

My second piece of advice is to just get started. As a PM, you are probably used to helping others get unblocked so they can finish a task. You use all kinds of tools to help others plan, prepare, and implement. Do you apply these techniques to your career? I wrote a blog post about how to take the stress out of career advancement and the basic message was, just take one small step. And then take another and another and another. Each step doesn’t have to be 100% perfect, just try something and see how it works. Unlike a project, there’s rarely a fixed deadline for your career. Getting started in a direction is the best possible way to make things happen quickly.