2015 IT Skills and Salary Survey – Now Open

written by: Traci Taylor on October 6th, 2014

How does your salary compare to national averages? What skills are in demand in the competitive job market? Which certifications and training impact salary? Help us discover these answers and more by participating in our 2015 IT Skills and Salary Survey.

ASPE-IT and Global Knowledge are conducting one of the industry’s most extensive and comprehensive studies of IT and business professionals. Last year, more than 16,300 from around the globe completed the survey. By providing insight into your profession, we can make this year’s survey even bigger.

We invite you to be part of this important research to identify IT and business pros’ salary trends, valuable training and certifications, and other fundamental topics. Completing the survey will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes, and you’ll receive a complimentary copy of our IT Skills and Salary Report when it’s published in March.

Complete the survey by October 24th to be entered in a random drawing to win one of eight $250 American Express gift cards.

Get started now!


Skills Necessary for Highly Effective Business Analysis

written by: Jennifer Johnson on October 23rd, 2014

This content was originally posted at http://www.batimes.com/

Effective business analysis is essential to the success of a project or product. This process includes a set of tasks and techniques to enable the discovery of solutions for an organization to achieve its goals. A business analyst can be anyone, regardless of title or role in a business, though subject matter expertise is not enough for an effective business analyst.

This article focuses primarily on IT business analysts, and expands on current competency models outlined in IIBA’s BABOK. The purpose is to highlight the competencies of a BA that are necessary for the successful understanding and incorporation of requirements.

  • Business Analysis Practices: These are not specific to any domain, and various tasks can be located in BABOK. These tasks are necessary to produce consistent results on projects and allow the BA to hear out the stakeholders and discover the needs of a business before beginning to look at requirements.
  • Usability Engineering: A project will fail if the end-user cannot use the system. Therefore, an integral part of business analysis is discovering a way into the end-user’s “mental model” to focus on creating a user-centered design.
  • Object Oriented Analysis: A Business Analyst should apply object-oriented techniques to tasks to prevent communication gaps between the Business Analyst and the project team. Converting requirements can often hit a road block if the BA is unable to use Unified Modeling Language to produce use cases and diagrams that describe and document requirements.
  • Quality Control: It is crucial that the requirements be verified and validated, as well as the solution, in order to confirm it meets the needs of the business. An essential tool of the BA, User Acceptance Testing differs slightly from System Testing, and should include stakeholders in the process in order to prevent defects. Sometimes the BA may need to support the System Testing, and therefore it is important to know how it is performed.
  • Documentation: The single biggest contributor to an effective business analysis is documentation. Poor quality requirement documentation can result in a large percentage of defects discovered during testing. Ambiguous documentation creates miscommunication between the levels, as all assume the other has a similar extent of knowledge about the subject. Think of it like the game ‘telephone’: the BA provides documentation and the next team member interprets it. If the documentation is not clear and specific, the end-user will receive a product that does not meet their needs!
  • Business Domain: This includes industry verticals, such as finance, insurance, automotive, etc.  Subject matter experts are not necessarily business analysts, but it is important for the BA to be an SME in their own business domain.
  • Business Process Management: The ability to understand and analyze current and future business processes enables the BA to identify problems and opportunities. BABOK discusses business process modeling and process analysis techniques but process design, transformation and performance management are central to the analysis process.
  • Technology Awareness: Most businesses revolve, or are affected by some extent by IT. Therefore it is crucial for the BA to understand that technology can help solve problems in some cases. A good understanding of SDLC is also essential, and programs such as Agile will directly influence analysis activities of the BA and other team members.

The BA of today should consider these competencies essential for becoming an effective and successful analyst. Programs like Agile can be useful to the BA in understanding the business process and how to effectively produce a business analysis according to user requirements.

Want to learn more about this topic? ASPE offers a Business Analyst Boot Camp  to provide you with fundamental analysis tools and techniques necessary for effective business analysis.


Mastering Business Analysis is Easy

written by: Traci Taylor on October 21st, 2014

Or not…


It’s not an easy profession and it’s extremely competitive. In order to set yourself apart from the masses and put a mark of distinction on your resume you need CBAP certification from the IIBA. Recognizing their demonstration of the knowledge and skills necessary for effectiveness and a professional level of competence in business analysis principles and practices, CBAPs are achieving worldwide recognition. We can’t teach you to walk on water, but our CBAP training course will prepare you for certification – guaranteed.

Learn more about guaranteed CBAP training from ASPE-SDLC.


Web Seminar Recap: Expert Q&A – Data Quality: How to Keep it Clean

written by: Tegan Smith on October 17th, 2014

It’s a perennial problem for everybody: Over time, data quality degrades. Human error gradually accumulates, weird duplicates pop up, corruption happens – the list goes on.

How can we do better with our data hygiene and keep our quality standard high when it comes to our information? Data can be our most valuable resource, if it’s a current, well-maintained repository of useful information. Taking small steps now and every day can yield big payoffs in the future if those steps gradually amass a high-fidelity treasure trove of information that can be mined and modeled.

This one-hour open interview with Triangle data guru Damian Herrick was held on October 15th, 2014. Damian is a consulting partner on analytics and enterprise data analysis, and he answered questions about how to maintain high quality standards when working with data.

Missed this seminar? Download the slides and recording here.


An Inside Look at Business Analyst Training with ASPE-SDLC

written by: Traci Taylor on October 13th, 2014

In case you haven’t checked out our YouTube channel lately, we’d like to share with you an inside look into Business Analyst training with ASPE-SDLC.

We sat down with long-time business analyst training instructor, Mary Zarba, to discuss ASPE’s Business Analyst Boot Camp and also got some feedback from our BA students. Mary explains how her business analyst training courses focus on process and organizational change and the elimination of repetitious work. She uses a lot of real-life, practical “what-if” questions to push her students to think outside of the box.

Students were pleasantly surprised that business analyst training with ASPE was more involved and interactive than they had originally anticipated. With an increasing demand for certified BAs rather than experience alone, students were eager to put this type of hands-on training on their resume.




Unit Testing

written by: Kaete Piccirilli on October 8th, 2014

This content was originally posted on Software Testing Fundamentals.

Unit testing is a common software testing method and is one of the first steps in testing software. Unit testing is a level of the software testing process where individual units of a system are tested. This is to validate that each unit of the system performs as designed.

This is the smallest testable part of the software usually containing one or a few inputs and typically one output. This could be a function, individual program or procedure with the software system.

Unit testing is performed by White Box Testing and is the first level of testing performed prior to Integration testing. This type of testing is performed by the developer or their peers.

Some benefits of Unit Software Testing

  • Increases confidence in maintaining code
  • Development is faster
  • Code can then be more re-usable making it modular to be used in other software
  • Fixing a defect in unit testing is less costly
  • Code is more reliable
  • De-bugging is easier

Find out more about the various common methods in software testing and how you can get your software testing certification.


Putting the “Dev” in DevOps

written by: Chris Knotts on September 30th, 2014

It’s been a good five years since the #DevOps hashtag showed up on Twitter and IT operations teams everywhere started talking about it. But with cloud infrastructure exploding and applications teams growing ever more aware of the capabilities and environments available for deployment and integration, we are definitely hearing more interest in DevOps from our customer base of developers and application teams. The DevOps mentality and the associated skills are becoming important areas of interest for them as well. DevOps isn’t just for ops anymore…and it wasn’t ever supposed to be, was it?

There are a few key factors that are beginning to drive real engagement from the Dev side of the house:

  1. The agile mentality has grown widespread and influential, beginning to reach maturity in the marketplace and the workforce. An agile approach to development is the natural analog to a continuous deployment mentality on the operations side of the house. But perhaps more importantly, agile development teams should understand that they must integrate tools and practices into their project efforts which identify important stakeholders across every area of the IT shop, especially those associated with deploying their applications. This overlap is more than just application people getting interested in DevOps – it is DevOps.
  2. Achieving an end goal as a group is not about technology; it’s about people. It can be tough for both developers and operations people to embrace all the change that’s required to really put this shift in thinking into action. However, it’s a rising sense with everyone you talk to who is involved in IT projects and IT operations. The widespread agile coaching that is going on with application teams everywhere is again a contributing factor here. A foundation of team efficiency and capability, combined with a philosophy which views everything through the lens of successful achievement of a result – it’s not easy to disseminate that mentality across everybody in the IT shop. But thanks to DevOps and Agile (and remember…before there was DevOps there were proto-DNA conversations around Agile Infrastructure), necessitated by the cloud and a wealth of new tools that allow exponential gains in efficiency, we have some real driving force powering DevOps on the application side.
  3. Code, code and more code. Software is eating the world and IT is increasingly a recipe of various abstractions. Whether they serve the purpose of a service oriented piece of software, or an abstracted piece of hardware, there’s an awful lot of programming language being spoken. The rise of the cloud has meant more scripting, more infrastructure as code, and more creative possibilities when it comes to IT frameworks. This seems to be attracting the interest of a growing number of developers. On the flip side, I’ve talked to more than a few system administrators and IT operations folks who seem to allude to a nervous population of operations people who wonder if the professional code writers over in Dev are going to gradually supplant them.

Certainly there is more to the picture than just these three ingredients, but these would be three of the top dynamics. And if we do see a widespread shift from Dev toward adopting a DevOps type way of working, then it could signal the mainstream absorption of DevOps as Standard Operating Procedure that many feel is imminent.