Soft skills
Learn from the others' mistakes: 5 tips for novice business analysts
14 Jun 2021

Mistakes provide a valuable experience, but some of the hard lessons of the profession are worth learning from others' stories. Anna Shamrai, a Business Analyst at EPAM, shares some of the most important, but not the most obvious, tips for aspiring business analysts.

My name is Anna Shamrai. I have been working with EPAM as a business analyst for half a year. All the tips in this article are the summary of my professional experience from previous jobs. They may seem obvious to a Senior BA and higher, but beginners taking their first steps into the profession will find them helpful. Let the lessons I have learned help you cope with a challenging project, make good relationships with your team, and avoid unnecessary stress in your work. 

Tip #1: You are the only owner of your artifacts (user stories, diagrams, etc.) 

If several business analysts work on the project, make it clear with everyone that only you can make edits to your stories or tickets. Otherwise, your BA colleagues can “fix” everything at their discretion in your documents. You will not understand the changes, and they may forget what they meant. Set the record straight to avoid unpleasant surprises in discussions with engineers or clients and save a lot of time. Thus, you will not have to spend your time trying to figure out other people’s changes. 

Conclusion: Make sure that your colleagues understand that only you can change or add something to your documents and artifacts. Ask them to write to you directly if they notice inaccuracies or want to improve something.

Tip #2: If necessary, discuss the tasks offered by more experienced team members  

We got used to believing that if a person is higher in rank or has more experience, they are always right. Often it is true. However, there are exceptions. Even the most experienced specialist can make mistakes because of the human factor. If you doubt the accuracy of the task assigned to you, ask clarifying questions. Either your leader will see a lack of logic in their instructions, or you will understand what and how you should do. 

Conclusion: Analyze incoming requests. If you think that the task is set incorrectly, do not be afraid to discuss the issue. This might be useful for your development and can save your project from mistakes.

Tip# 3: Talk to the coordinator about the challenges on the project  

In one of the companies I worked for, I experienced what it feels like when the team leader shifts responsibility for their actions to subordinates and does not hear their suggestions for work improvements. The experience was very unpleasant. 

Yet, during my regular face-to-face meetings with the project coordinator, I did not say anything. When my project coordinator asked me if everything was good, I answered positively. I preferred not to discuss negative moments behind my colleagues' backs, not to complain. I thought I needed to be patient, and the situation will change. It was a mistake. 

Conclusion: If you have difficulties, do not be afraid to tell the coordinator about them. Appeal to the facts, and no one will think that you are complaining. On the contrary, it will help you overcome the difficulty. The situation may change for the better. The main thing is to talk.

Tip #4: Improve your English all the time 

Multicultural teams from different countries work on EPAM projects. Customers are often located in Europe, Great Britain, the United States. So English is the universal language of communication in the IT sphere. Almost all meetings, discussions, project documentation is in English. The business analyst must have a good knowledge of the language spoken by the customer. 

Conclusion: Enrich your vocabulary and improve your grammar because this will directly affect how well you can do your job.

Tip #5: Be calm and do not start conflict with others 

Before joining EPAM, I had a chance to work on a variety of projects. Emotions were not always pleasant, and decisions were not always right. But in the end, it gave everyone a valuable experience. One way or another, I am glad that I did not conflict with customers, and, in most cases, we found common ground with the team. 

My philosophy is based on the famous expression "This too shall pass" by king Solomon. Life is longer than the most intolerable project. 

Conclusion: We must remain calm.

At EPAM, I was lucky to be on a project with well-organized processes and an excellent team. Previous experience was also valuable: I drew conclusions that helps me respond adequately and wisely in various situations. I hope you find it useful too. Finally, here are a few books that, in my opinion, every BA should read

Also, pay attention to the opportunities at EPAMBusiness analysis training programs let you study the profession from scratch and save a lot of time because the most effective training is practice under the supervision of an experienced mentor.