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23 July 2022

Learning the trade — Business analysis

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Elliott Seaton

Six months into my time here at Hippo, I thought it was about time that I finally put pen to paper about my experiences so far.

Currently, I find myself on the ‘bench’, the term for the time spent between client projects; this presents an excellent opportunity for reflection following the conclusion of my first client project.

How I joined Hippo

I joined Hippo back in January via their first-ever Academy recruitment initiative. I’d worked in business development for a number of years and decided that I wasn’t satisfied with my chosen career path. Business Analysis stuck out to me as something I’d be interested in and that I could bring a number of transferable skills. The Academy was an 8-week programme that delivered theory in subjects such as user-centred design, research, delivery and problem-solving. The classroom element was backed up by a mock project, enabling you to put your knowledge to the test.

This was a great start for me as Hippo’s culture is centred around support and not being afraid of making ‘mistakes’ or asking questions. I certainly made a lot of mistakes during that time but I’m an avid believer that this is often the best way to learn!

First real project

My first project was both exciting and a little daunting. I felt like I had developed a strong level of theoretical knowledge and it was finally time to put that to the test in a live client environment.

My first assignment was within the NHS, a strategic piece of work providing insight to support the formation of Integrated Care Systems. We had a delivery team of around 14, made up of 3 squads consisting of a Service Designer, User Researcher, Business Analyst (BA) and Delivery Manager. As somebody new to Business Analysis, this was the perfect environment for me as I had the room to develop my own style of working but also the support within my squad and from the BAs on the other squads too.

I’d say the biggest challenge of that first project was really trying to understand the space that we were working in. Admittedly, it took some time to get to grips with the organisational layout and architecture of the NHS and the work that Hippo was brought in to do. However, as time went on, I felt that I was able to add more and more value. I was able to ‘fail fast’, with the support of my colleagues and all things I considered, I learnt a lot about real project life.

Some of the BA-type things I got exposure to include:

  • user research and the analysis of results
  • process modelling, to understand the current processes and help inform some of the future recommendations
  • capability-focussed business architecture

Personally, I’ve become really interested in process modelling. I enjoy visually connecting a number of moving parts that are their own entity but have complex relationships with other parts. The activity of crafting a process model involves collaboration and the collation of dense amounts of information and there’s just something rather satisfying about presenting that in a way that visually makes sense.

Example process map — Source: The Pizza Collaboration — bpmn.org

Overall, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was the overarching feeling of being in a team. Everybody was there to collaborate and build towards solving the same problem. There was a real sense of achievement come the final day of the project and I think this is something that is very much unique to Hippo.

Working for a consultancy can be challenging but incredibly rewarding. The nature of the work means that you’re always working on a problem, often one of high complexity. Hippo as a business understands this and if you ask for a helping hand, you’ll often find yourself with 10!

Transferable skills

I think it’s important to mention that even from day 1 of the Academy, I was never starting completely from scratch. One of the huge positives for anyone looking to get into a career in Business Analysis is that you can probably already do more of it than you think.

As with any profession, there is best practice and a lot of different tools and techniques that can be used to get you to your desired outcome. Learning and practising these will only make you a better BA. However, I’m learning that a huge part of being a BA is the mindset. If you’re analytical by nature, thrive working in a team and can build strong relationships with people, then that’s half the battle.

Joining the herd

If you’re looking for a new challenge in a supportive, creative and innovative environment, Hippo is always on the lookout for:

  • BAs
  • UX Designers
  • Service Designers
  • User Researchers
  • Delivery Managers
  • Product Owners

One thing that you can absolutely guarantee when working for Hippo is that you will have all of the tools and support at your disposal to challenge yourself and grow.