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Building a business analyst community in PDS

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Community, Experts in what we do, Unity without uniformity

Sian Hodges

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that we have a lot of new people in PDS, and lots of new roles. In the business analyst community, we're still figuring out how areas in PDS overlap, how we can work together better, and appreciate the value each team brings. So if you’ve ever wondered what we do or how you might become a business analyst, then this is the blog post for you.

Why we need to build a community

We’ve got lots of demand for analysts in our change programmes, so we’re trying to rebuild the community with people that can work with us to design these changes, allowing Parliament to maximise its opportunities while minimising disruptions.

Our capability team are starting to introduce job families to PDS, to bring consistency to job roles and establish clear career paths (more on that in a future post). We’ve just appointed two senior analysts, who’ll be helping to build the business analyst community.

My analyst career

I'm a 'jack of all trades'. I love variety, learning new things, and working things out but get bored too quickly to ever become an expert in anything. I studied information systems and, apart from two years teaching English in South America, I've worked in IT for 17 years, in a mix of roles that include IT security, application support, and web publishing.

I got back from Ecuador at the end of 2012 and came to London, mainly because it has a larger Latin community than Cardiff. I wanted to keep up my Spanish, salsa, and bachata!

Of course, I also needed a job. I'd spent quite a few years in IT at the National Assembly for Wales, so when I saw the advertised analyst role I knew my experience would be relevant. I hadn’t been a business analyst before but I'd done a lot of things the role required. I’d gathered requirements, translated those requirements to developers, did demonstrations to stakeholders, did user testing, and developed and delivered training.

I also had some transferable skills. I'd got over my fear of presenting while teaching, used problem solving skills while supporting applications, and can and will talk to anyone which makes building relationships easier.

My first two years were in innovation and feasibility, working on exciting new ideas, trying out new technologies, and meeting people from all over Parliament. It was perfect for me. I was one of the first in PDS to start using Office 365 and spent a year as a SharePoint analyst before moving to my current role as portfolio analyst. I manage new project ideas coming into the portfolio team, get involved with planning, and help to lead the business analyst profession in PDS.

What's kept me here? The people, the variety, the opportunities, the ability to understand what others do, and help them improve how they work. If I'm learning a new technology at the same time, that's a bonus.

In my almost five years in Parliament, there’s constantly been another part of the business to get to know, and a whole new set of processes to get to grips with. The challenge is finding a way to improve processes and try out technologies while preserving the tradition of the democratic institution that is Parliament.

The business analyst team

My background is IT and public sector, but our analysts come from many different backgrounds. Nearly three quarters of the team had never formally been an analyst before working in PDS, but learned the skills in other roles. A quarter had previously worked as an analyst in the private sector and a fifth had been an analyst in the public sector.

Pie chart showing how long analysts have been in their jobs is PDS. Over two thirds have been in PDS longer than 3 yearsInterestingly, on becoming a business analyst in PDS, it seems that many stay with us (see chart opposite). We also have analysts that have moved around PDS, including our Portfolio Director, who joined as an analyst but got to their current position after moving through other roles.

Our diversity of background is also shown in the industries we’ve come from. Nearly half of our analysts have a background in IT, but more than a third have worked in financial services or healthcare, with nearly as many having a background in transportation and storage.

We also have a good number of analysts who’ve come from within Parliament, in areas as diverse as Parliamentary procedure, research, and the Archives.

While we come from a wide range of backgrounds, and bring many different experiences and viewpoints, we’re united by our analytical skills and enjoyment of working on projects that help Parliament achieve its digital goals.

Think you have what we need?

If you’re interested in being a business analyst or want to find out more, we’re recruiting for more analysts. Some of the main things we look for are good communication skills alongside the ability to analyse, or find a solution to a problem. While you're there to understand what stakeholders want, you also sometimes need the confidence to question them. What someone wants, isn't always what they need.

Go on, give it a go, what have you got to lose?

Find out more about the business analysts jobs in PDS

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