In 2014 I joined Kainos working part-time as an administrator while studying towards a Computer Science degree at Ulster University. I completed my placement year at a Belfast based FinTech company, and quickly realised that development was not my thing! After graduation I accepted a permanent admin role in London with Kainos, only knowing that I did not want to be a developer, and wanted to work while I researched the opportunities available to me for my next step. I moved to London from Belfast in September 2017 keen to explore roles and opportunities that I could use skill-sets developed throughout both my employment and university experience.
I was investigating opportunities within Kainos in consulting, undertaking shadowing days on projects whilst still working in my admin role, when a Kainos colleague pointed me in the direction of the Kainos Business Analysis (BA) Academy. Before now, Kainos had always hired experienced hires into this type of role, so it was great to see that Kainos now opening these roles to entry level people, as well as people who maybe fancied a change of career. The BA academy is a training academy offering theory and practical skills training, with the aim of giving participants broader experience in consulting than they had before. At the end of the training, participants would become a fully-fledged Business Analyst! Sounds perfect.
October 2018 I took part in the first Kainos BA Academy! The academy was a three-week course held at Kainos, London office with 10 participants.
The theory and the practical in three weeks
The first day on the academy give us an introduction to the course, each other, how Kainos structure projects and Agile 101. Agile 101 introduced us at high level to agile, the benefits, estimation and the roles and responsibilities of the team on project. Completing our first day, with the first academy retrospective.
Week 1 then started to dig deeper into some theory understanding the importance of stakeholders, workshop facilitation and vision. It was particularly interesting applying what we learned in theory into practical exercises. We finished Week 1 with a day on Experience Design, understanding the principles of UCD, research and design and most importantly why this is important to BAs. Every day we started the day with a stand up and finished the day with a retrospective, applying different techniques we learnt from our workshop session!
Week 2 saw us delve further into the BA role specifically, and what we would do on a day-to-day basis on project. We learnt to understand the AS-IS – how to model it, what to do with it and who it is for. The theory of Week 1 started to piece together as when designing for the new TO-BE process we would refer back and refine vision, enforcing our understanding from Week 1. MVP? We had heard so much about it and finally we were understanding what it was from the Backlog Management session also including prioritisation, roadmaps, and story mapping!
We concluded Week 2 with a presentation skills day, where we each presented a topic of our choice, investigated some new techniques on how to be a better presenter and aimed to trial these at our next presentation.
The ‘lightbulb moments’
During the final week of the academy, we split into teams and took part in a mini agile project. We facilitated workshops on topics such as vision, AS-IS, process mapping, TO-BE, benefits, throughout the week with our stakeholders applying the theory we had learnt on the previous weeks of the academy. From the workshops during the week, we gathered enough requirements to be able to complete story mapping, writing our first project user stories. We completed prioritisation with our stakeholders, before running our first refinement sessions. The week finished with a show and tell completing our first Kainos mini agile project.
It was interesting watching the theory fit together from the previous two weeks sessions, and I enjoyed the light-bulb moments when it all started to click. I left the Academy feeling a lot more knowledgeable and prepared to go back to project to make a difference applying the key skills I have developed throughout training. I am looking forward to our BA Academy catch up days in a few months’ time, to share project stories, experiences and cover even more topics!
Thanks to my managers (previous and new), team and capability lead for the support they have provided me throughout my transition into the Consulting Capability.