Technical skills are not a pre-requisite to becoming an effective business analyst but having some knowledge of technology and being able to engage in techspeak will provide advantages such as the ability to understand the technical limitations of users’ requirements and engage in discussions with the technical team.
Ready to set yourself apart? Here are 7 ideas that can help you improve your technical skills:
- Enroll in technical classes, workshops and seminars – For many, the classroom experience trumps studying alone or learning online. There are numerous training sessions, seminars and workshops that offer a platform for learning about a specific technology or product. The biggest advantage of learning in a classroom-like setting is that you will gain from the knowledge of an experienced instructor and still learn from other students through their questions and contributions. Instructors with an extensive background in technology usually know their subject matter, and can offer on-the-spot answers to any questions you may have.
- Subscribe to Technical Sites & Magazines – There are numerous technical blogs, websites and magazines you can subscribe to. They offer an inexpensive way of keeping up with the latest technical advancements and trends. They can help to improve your technical knowledge, skills, insights into innovation and also provide you with tips on how to manage complex software applications. Examples of Technical Sites are: Techcrunch, CNET, Mashable, and Engadget, to mention a few.
- Make Friends with a Computer Geek – Spending time with knowledgeable “geeks” is a great way to develop your technical know-how. Much of their knowledge will eventually sink in. Most geeks love talking about technology and would be more than willing to share their knowledge with you.
- Read Technical Books & Take Online Tutorials – Bookstores typically have a section for hardware, software, programming languages and other technical topics. Whether you choose to join your local library or buy these books, one advantage you have is that you can buy based on your present knowledge level (beginner or advanced learner). Also, search online for free tutorials and primers on a specific topic. Most tutorials are very easily accessed, up-to-date, and are available for free.
- Learn Multiple Software Applications – The more experienced you are with existing applications, the easier it will become to learn new ones in the future. Eventually, it will become extremely easy to figure out the technicalities of different applications and the "typical" features of a standard software application.
- Talk to Developers – Another great way to learn about technology is to discuss with the development team on how implementation will work. One thing that can be useful to BAs is understanding how code is written and how applications are designed. Programming is mentally challenging and extremely fulfilling when the code is written – particularly when it works! When the logic of a programmer is understood, the logic of the application also becomes easy to grasp. Discuss with programmers. More often than not, they will be willing to explain what they are doing.
- Volunteer on Technical Projects – Seek out opportunities in your community to volunteer on technical projects; this will allow you to gain valuable experience from working with the technical members of the team. Volunteering gives excellent access to projects that might ordinarily not be available to you in the corporate world. Volunteers can participate in monthly meetings, meet with clients, and become valued members of the project.
The most important thing is to be willing to learn something new everyday and be excited about technology. The benefits will naturally follow.