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Back Posted on: 15 April 2024

Emma has been a part of Alchemy since its establishment in 2018. Beginning as a Technical Analyst, her primary focus was on a project within the London Market working with commercial insurers and reinsurers. Since transitioning to a Business Analyst (BA) role, Emma has accumulated valuable experience within the American Insurance Market through her current project. While boosting the overall skill set required as a Business Analyst, throughout her career she has gained enhanced visibility on policy administration systems, gained familiarity with Underwriting Workbench and expanded her knowledge of data analysis.

1. Can you share a brief overview of your role as a business analyst and what it entails on a day-to-day basis?

As a Business Analyst I bridge the gap between IT and the Business, ensuring their needs are met. Each day brings its own unique challenges and tasks. Typically, I start by checking emails and support portals, ensuring any client issues or updates are promptly addressed. This is followed by a morning stand-up with the entire project team, where we discuss updates, issues, and any obstacles encountered.

Throughout the week, my responsibilities may vary. One day might involve preparing for a requirement meeting, where I gather the team to ensure everyone is aligned on how to facilitate the discussion effectively. Another day could entail conducting a requirement session with the client, involving workshops to thoroughly explore their current processes ("AS IS") and desired future state ("TO BE"). It's crucial during these sessions to understand stakeholders' needs to effectively manage scope and expectations.

While facilitating such sessions, I elicit the relevant information needed for the requirement. To ensure a holistic approach and clear view, I communicate effectively with the wider team, this includes system architects, integration specialists, and data/reporting teams. This collaborative effort helps anticipate and address any potential downstream effects before implementing requirements.

Overall, my role as a Business Analyst is dynamic, requiring effective communication, collaboration, analytical skills, and business knowledge to drive successful project outcomes.

2. What initially sparked your interest in becoming a business analyst?

Coming from a technical background, I initially joined Alchemy as a technical analyst. However, within this role, my exposure to the full potential and significance of user stories was limited due to minimal involvement in requirement meetings. Recognising the broader opportunities within the business analysis (BA) domain, I transitioned into a BA role. This shift offered me the chance to delve deeper into business knowledge and collaborate with diverse stakeholders and departments within the insurance industry.

As a BA, I now have a comprehensive understanding of the entire software development lifecycle. It has enabled me to expand my knowledge in areas such as development, quality assurance (QA), and user acceptance testing (UAT).

3. How has your background or previous experiences prepared you for your current role?

As I moved onto my most recent project, I came to realise that I possessed a blend of transferable skills derived from both technical expertise and soft skills developed through prior project experiences. These skills proved invaluable in my ability to effectively facilitate communication, drive projects towards successful outcomes, and make meaningful contributions to their overall success.

Throughout my previous projects, I had the opportunity to work closely with different departments and stakeholders. This exposure provided me with valuable hands-on experience and allowed me to refine my abilities in navigating diverse professional environments. By collaborating with individuals from various backgrounds, I gained insights into different perspectives and approaches, which further developed my skill set.

My technical proficiency enabled me to understand complex project requirements and effectively communicate them to stakeholders. Meanwhile, my soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, problem-solving, and adaptability, allowed me to foster productive relationships, resolve conflicts, and navigate challenges as they arose during project execution.

4. What do you find most rewarding about being a business analyst?

As a Business Analyst, my role is to bridge the gap between IT and the Business, ensuring their needs are met. I work closely with stakeholders across various departments to identify their goals and objectives. I find great satisfaction in capturing requirements, aligning them with business needs, and guiding them through the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) until they’re approved for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and deployment into Production. It’s extremely fulfilling to recognise that I am making a meaningful contribution to enhancing the organisation’s effectiveness and adaptability within a rapidly changing business environment.

5. How do you stay updated on industry trends and best practices relevant to your role?

To ensure I adhere to best practices in my role as a Business Analyst, I actively engage with relevant BA knowledge platforms like the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and BCS: The Chartered Institute of IT. I follow BA groups on LinkedIn, where I have the opportunity to attend seminars organised by and for Bas. These forums facilitate the exchange of insights and experiences among BAs from diverse industries, helping me enhance my knowledge and keep up to date with industry trends.

6. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a business analyst?

I would suggest learning about the role first and what it entails, specifically how to facilitate meetings, and how to communicate effectively with different stakeholders. If possible, get work experience and/or the chance to shadow a BA and learn the day-to-day tasks/responsibilities throughout the working week. It is important to do BA training, specifically at an entry or foundation level, as this will boost your knowledge on understanding the theoretical side of Business Analysis. If a particular industry, such as insurance, interests you, it will be beneficial to acquire foundational knowledge of that industry.

7. How do you see the role of business analyst evolving in the future, especially with advancements in technology and changes in business practices?

While businesses continue to press forward with digital transformation, it becomes essential to understand the evolution of business analysis and its intertwined connection with technological advancements.

As the progression of AI continues, I see how important it will be for Business Analysts to understand how it can be integrated into processes, data analytics and automation. Beyond the traditional skill set, Business Analysts will need to acquire the necessary abilities and understanding of how they can harness and leverage the profound analytical and automated capabilities AI has to offer.

Remaining relevant in an ever-changing industry demands that Business Analysts adapt and evolve alongside it. In this transition, it is important to focus on the expansion of skill sets such as data analytics.

As the role of a Business Analyst continues to evolve, it is important to seize the opportunity for cross-functional collaboration and training. Working with a vast range of individuals of different skill sets is key to success and fosters collaboration, enhancing project success whilst also offering cross-training opportunities. Such cross-training enables a Business Analyst to transition into related roles like Scrum Master. Product Owner, Project Manager, etc, facilitating their development into a Hybrid/Flexible Business Analyst. Adapting to stay relevant in this ever-changing industry.

8. What are your main challenges as a Business Analyst?

As a Business Analyst, you are responsible for the outcome of every project or initiative. While I encounter numerous challenges daily, one that particularly stands out for me is ‘Scope Creep’. Balancing stakeholder's expectations and ensuring that the project remains within its defined scope can often result in challenging discussions with the client. Even though we employ Agile Methodologies rather than Waterfall, the risk of ‘Scope Creep’ still exists at the initiative level.

Another hurdle involves the delay in obtaining sign-off for requirements, development and UAT (User Acceptance Testing). This delay can trigger downstream repercussions, impacting forecasting accuracy versus actual outcomes, among other factors.