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Adrian M.
Adrian M.

Every Business Analyst Must Negotiate Like a Pro

In the larger context of life, it is very clear that negotiation skills are very important and that those that have them are better off than those who don’t. 

What about in business analysis? Are negotiation skills important? 

The answer is an emphatic: YES! You bet they are! 

Business analysts negotiate or facilitate negotiations at every turn. At the very infancy of a project, negotiation skills are used to determine what should be included in the vision of the project, in the project charter. 

As details emerge, negotiation skills are used by all parties involved to determine which requests become requirements and which requirements have higher priority. 

As the project progresses, negotiation skills are again used to determine the functional design which fulfill the requirements. Technical decisions also require negotiation skills. 

While it would be much easier if project decisions were black and white (objective) the reality is that everything is negotiable. 

So – if you are a business analyst or systems analyst make sure to add negotiation skills to your repertoire. 

Certain individuals are great negotiators from birth, the rest 95% of us need to work on these skills. 

We can’t afford not to! 

By now you might be wondering if you can do it – if you can be an effective negotiator! 

Yes! You can negotiate anything! 

Here are some tips and guidelines to help you get started. These are really the notes I jotted down while reading “You Can Negotiate Anything!” a great book by Herb Cohen. 


Negotiation = activity in which parties are trying to satisfy needs. 

Process of Negotiation = It is a way of acting and behaving that can develop understanding, belief, acceptance, respect and trust. It is the manner of your approach, the tone of your voice, the attitude you convey, the methods your use, and the concern you exhibit for the other side’s feelings and needs. 

Negotiation Myths 

MYTH # 1: We want the same thing therefore if you win I lose 
The majority of us think of negotiation as a pie that needs to be divided. Therefore if you get the bigger piece then I get the smaller piece. If I win then you lose. The reality is that needs are not always in opposition: In most negotiating situations, the needs of the two parties are not really in opposition. In a collaborative Win-Win negotiation we are trying to produce an outcome that provides acceptable gain to all parties. 

MYTH # 2: Money is the most important thing to the other party 
While money is not everything in life, it surely nice to have lots! Deep down each one of us think of negotiation in terms of money. Money seems to be an easy and objective way to keep score and to decide if I negotiated a good deal or not. 

The reality is that money is not the only need. If you think most negotiations pivot around money, then you’re mistaken. Money is a need but is only one of many. If you neglect their other needs, satisfying people’s dollar need alone will not make them happy. 

MYTH # 3: The other party told me what they want 
Most of us assume that the other party will or have already clearly communicated to us their needs and wants. The reality is that the real needs of the other party are often not considered for a number of reasons. Negotiations are never totally about what is being openly talked or contested, be it price, services, products, territory, concessions, money, etc – because negotiators try to conceal real needs or don’t recognize them. 

Many folks use negotiations as way of satisfying deeper, often subconscious, needs such the need to be appreciated, wanted, and recognized. What is being discussed, and the manner in which it is being considered, are used to satisfy psychological needs

Win-Win Negotiations 

PRINCIPLE: Negotiate for Mutual Satisfaction (Win-Win) 
If there is only one thing that you get out of this article is the importance of having a win-win view of the negotiation process. Successful negotiators view the opposing party as colleague rather then an opponent. 

The goal at the end of the day is for the parties to shake hands and say something like “That was fun and mutually benefiting! Hope we get to do this again sometime!” 

Therefore, your goal and mindset in any negotiation should be to:

  • Use the process to meet needs (the other party’s needs)
  • Harmonize or reconcile needs (yours with the other party’s)
  • Watch for and avoid conflicts which stem from differences in experience, information, and role.

More tips to achieve win-win outcomes for the business analyst:

  • Build Trust - Find out as much as you can about the other party needs and wants, show genuine concern for the other party’s welfare, and transform the relationship in to collaboration.
  • Don’t make enemies – As a business analyst you interact with people possessing various levels of knowledge. If you know more or understand it better don’t forget the power of your attitude – check your own ego at the door.
  • Communicate your needs – Many of us do not succeed at negotiations because we don’t make our needs known. The squeaky wheel really gets the grease, if it knows where, when and how to squeak.

The bottom line is that as a business analyst or systems analyst, you can’t afford not to learn how to negotiate. Learning to be a good negotiator takes time so start now. 

If you don’t plan on making a conscience effort to improve your negotiation skills through practice, reading, courses, etc., then keep this on thing in mind… try to help the other person win, make them successful, they’ll remember you. 

Another way to put this is summarized by the golden rule: “treat others as you would like to be treated.” 

If you do this you’re well on your way to many successful negotiations.


This entry was published on Feb 10, 2015 / Adrian M.. Posted in Soft Skills, Leadership & Management. Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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bbobj82 posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 5:57 AM
Very good article and valid points. Its so important to be a good communicator as a BA as it really goes a long way in an organisation. However I agree, some people just have the gift of the gab and that brings a level of confidence too.
sriharsha dronamraju posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:32 PM
I'm pursuing my masters in Information Systems and really wanted to become a good systems analyst. The article you posted is really thought provoking and this is what todays SA or BA need. The organisations are very vast and a product can be made perfect only if there good communication between peers as well as with the clients. There are many situations where a product got dismissed even after its completion because of not much negotiation about the needs. So will definitely try to be a good negotiator and do the deed. WIN-WIN is something people appreciate nowadays.
sriharsha dronamraju
sriharsha dronamraju posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:35 PM
Also being collaborative with other party's really gain the win-win situation.
sriharsha dronamraju
Christen S posted on Monday, February 15, 2016 10:16 PM
Awesome article!! I am still a student but am reading blogs and articles to learn more tips and techniques on becoming a Business Analyst. I now understand the importance of negotiating skills and will use this in future reference!!!
Christen S
Dave Ayiku posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 1:06 PM
I like this especially because i just completed my pmp and a major focus of any project manager is have good communication skills.

Thanks, Dave
Dave Ayiku
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