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DCE Magazine

Analyzing the Possibilities

Spring 2021

The DCE Business Analysis certificate program can advance careers in a wide range of sectors and organizations.

Stephanie Cracknell

“The courses at UCI can really be used by most individuals, but are especially valuable for senior-level executives, entrepreneurs, IT professionals, QA and development teams, and data analysts.” Stephanie Cracknell, Instructor

Stephanie Cracknell has built a highly successful career as a business analyst. The DCE instructor has lent her knowledge and skillsets to the telecommunications, nonprofit, financial services and corporate real estate industries. It’s one of the hottest careers today, with roughly 15% growth projected over the next 10 years.

But what exactly does a business analyst do? It’s not always clearly defined, and the role often goes by different titles depending on the organization. Turns out it’s not so mysterious after all. In fact, almost everyone adopts the role occasionally in their jobs and even personal life. “I frequently have people speak to me that are interested in the BA role and want to know how they can transition into the career,” said Cracknell, assistant Vice President, Business Analysis, at CIT Bank. “We speak about what they do in their current or past jobs and projects that they have worked on at home or school, and we can always find transferrable skills. Have they managed any home improvement projects or are they a recent graduate that has submitted a Capstone project? You use your critical thinking and analytical skills more often than you realize.”

Planning a new kitchen is a good example, she said. It involves a great deal of research, planning and weighing options, deciding which designs are possible, who can perform the work, and what the best choices are for cabinets, counter tops and appliances.

“We take this research and find the best solution for our budget and timeline,” Cracknell adds. “We tend to manage the project to ensure that the work stays on track and on budget, while weighing the associated risks around the work.”

A normal day in the life of a business analyst means making sense out of chaos, providing clarity to situations and using their training, powers of negotiation and resourcefulness to come up with a plan or solution. Business analysts are key due to the strategic roles they play in a project ensuring that the final solution meets business objectives and adds to the bottom line.

As a liaison between the business and solution providers on a given project, these skilled professionals can ensure that requirements are addressed before a solution is designed and implemented. It’s an essential role that has evolved dramatically along with technology, broadening the BA’s role and creating a new world of opportunities.

A bright outlook for 2021

Even in the age of COVID, business analysts are in greater demand than ever, and the remote-worker model has leveled the playing field considerably, Cracknell said.

“The increase in remote working opportunities will make it easier to find a role that really meets your skillset without being tied to a geographical location. Going forward, we’re going to see changes in how businesses operate to survive and thrive that we have never seen before, and business analysts are uniquely positioned to help lead that transformation.”

She points to healthcare and financial services as two sectors especially in need of BAs. Both have seen unprecedented change to the way they operate, due to the pandemic and other factors. And with cybercrime escalating sharply amid the panic and confusion, cybersecurity is another hot sector in transition.

The role has evolved quite a lot over the past couple of decades, Cracknell said. When she first became a business analyst 18 years ago, the position wasn’t as well understood or defined. It took about five more years for it to catch on, perhaps fueled by significant advances in analytics and digital tools.

“Technology has had an impact on organizations, so it is only natural that this will affect the BA role as well, with an increase in areas that BAs can specialize in, such as mobile internet, Internet of Things, cloud technology, and artificial intelligence,” she said. “Specialization is becoming quite common in these areas. This has offered challenges and opportunities in equal measure.”

Data analytics has emerged as an increasingly valuable skillset for BAs, progressing from an outside niche to being a specialization within the profession. Fueled by sophisticated digital tools, it now touches all areas of an organization and allows them to target their clients with unprecedented precision.

“The business analyst uses this data to drive business decisions, taking insights from the data to identify problems and define solutions, and deliver data-driven recommendations,” Cracknell said. “It is an exciting time for the business analyst right now as the role evolves based on individual interest and areas of expertise.”

Clearly, the role of the business analyst is expanding and pivoting to meet the needs of a global economy in transition. BAs are taking leading roles in strategic planning, process re-engineering and UX, to name a few areas.

Despite the current challenges, there’s never been a better time to enter this field, and the DCE Business Analysis certificate program provides a solid foundation that can advance career prospects in a number of ways.

A versatile skillset

Designed to be completed in as few as six months, the online program’s four courses provide a well-rounded background to launch a career as BA, gain new skills in a current role, and even obtain the credits needed to sit for the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and Project Management Institute (PMI) certification exams.

Approved as an official IIBA Academic Program, and endorsed by the PMI, the program isn’t just for those seeking to become business analysts – it can benefit those working in a wide range of jobs, industries and organizations, Cracknell said. Just about anyone can benefit from this essential skillset.

“Business analysis is performed by many individuals in an organization regardless of their title, however they may lack the experience or rigor needed to do the work effectively,” she added. “The courses at UCI can really be used by most individuals, but are especially valuable for senior-level executives, entrepreneurs, IT professionals, QA and development teams, and data analysts. This list is by no means exhaustive.”

Cracknell knows from experience. She has discovered coworkers from many departments within her organization, from customer service to security, that have all the innate skills needed to be an effective business analyst. “All they needed was some training, mentoring and encouragement to do so.”

Business analysts can play an essential role in IT. Acquiring the skills you need to embark upon this career path can provide students with numerous career opportunities.”

Learn more about the Business Analysis Certificate Program.