Considering the skills of a Successful BA
Considering the skills of a Successful BA
When performing business analysis, you need to be equally proficient in several skills so you can apply them at different times based on the project you’re working on. But you can’t stop there; you also have to know when to use which skill. The following sections spell out a few skills you need to succeed in business analysis.
Communication is integral to everything in business analysis, so you need to be great at it. BAs operate at the intersection of business problems and business solutions, which means you have to be able to communicate with two groups of people that sometimes seem to be speaking different languages.
Detailed research, analysis and recording
BAs need to have the curiosity for understanding processes, procedures and systems. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are consistently the person in the room with your hand up when a presenter asks for questions, you just may be cut out for work as a BA. Even if you know the subject matter well, you can still ask questions to understand it in more depth and detail. That curiosity helps you understand what each person needs from the project. The key isn’t just asking questions of other people; it’s wanting to understand all aspects about how something works or what the underlying problem is. Such curiosity could lead to researching on your own to figure out where the problem exists and then analysing the issues and barriers that would create an effective solution.
Time management and information organization
If you ask a true BA when the analysis is done, his answer will be “Never!”. However, the reality is that you have a limited time to complete your project, so to be successful, you have to be able to effectively manage your work and be good at setting priorities. Because you’ll be dealing with a lot of people and a lot of information, you need to be good at organising all the information in a way that lets you recall it when needed to support your communication. You need to understand which pieces of your elicited information are relevant to which stakeholders and how you are going to use what you found to communicate your results.
The ability to see the big picture
If you get close enough to an impressionist painting, all you see are brush strokes. Only when you move away from the painting can you start to see whether the image is a heap of colours or a magnificent Cathedral. Being able to step away from the project at hand and see the big picture is crucial for any business analysis practitioner. You must be able to work on a project while understanding how that project fits in with other projects in the organisation and continues to meet all the business’s overall objectives. This macro view is a particularly important skill because the BA is typically the only person with this vital perspective. You’re the one who can keep efforts relevant, synergistic, and efficient.
Customer-focussed and Value–driven perspective
To be a good BA, you must always keep in mind what your stakeholders need from you. That probably seems like a no-brainer, but keep in mind that we’re not just talking about external customers who purchase your organisation’s products and services; we’re also referring to internal customers from other departments and even to those on your project team. With any of these customers, you have to make sure that whatever you produce provides value to the customer and the project you’re working on.
A large BA toolkit
Abraham Maslow, the famous psychologist, once said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” This concept led to the law of the instrument, or overreliance on one familiar tool.
As a business analysis professional, you need to avoid falling victim to this law. By having a large toolkit, you can apply the right tool to the situation at hand. You have to know which tools work best based on the context and the situation. For instance, if you are trying to model data, the best tool is to use an entity-relationship diagram, not a workflow. If you need to show your stakeholders what your solution would look like in real life, use a prototype. On the other hand, if stakeholders just need the nuts and bolts and bottom line of the project, you want to make sure you can write a strong business case. If you’re trying to make sure your project stays on track and doesn’t go out of bounds, you use your scoping diagram.
The flexibility is the way you respond to changes on a project. Flexibility is important because the question isn’t whether changes will occur on a project; it’s when changes will occur. You need to be able to roll with the punches calmly and change gears swiftly. The scope can be expanded, new features discussed, and possibilities tossed around, all of which may lead to change. Refusing to change along with the project doesn’t bode very well for you as the BA or for the project team as a whole and may cause project defects. You probably have to be the most flexible because you are at the centre of communication. You have to be able to adapt to changes on a project and adjust accordingly. The more quickly you accept the change, the more time you have to steer the project in the new direction. Flexibility isn’t just about being adaptable to changes to project requirements. You often have to be flexible when the human aspect of your project (such as team members) changes.