Name: Khalid Bashir Simaan
Title: Lead Business System Analyst
Company: American Express
What organization do you work for?
I work as a consultant for American Express.
What is your main role there?
I'm a Lead Business and System Analyst working on a strategic project that is expected to last until 2010 and achieve several goals including cost cutting, better customer service and a more reliable infrastructure. My role on this project is primarily focused on setting infrastructure and storage requirements, performing data analysis and mapping, and modeling the flow of information from the provider to the requestor, which spans across several layers. I also have been assigned recently to review the "application use cases" for the dept I work for.
What do you find challenging about your job?
I always find Knowledge management to be the biggest challenge in most organizations. Often the application, project or process knowledge is scattered across different medias: email attachments, email contents, ad-hoc excel sheets, word documents, project portfolio software, Share Point directories that have different structures for different projects, a collection of design documents that do not follow a consistent pattern, etc.
Some of the knowledge is not documented anywhere. Good knowledge management requires good tools + good process – unnecessary documentation. This is a fine balance and cannot be solved simply by adopting a CMMI approach or a bunch of customized Six Sigma templates.
What have you found that makes your job easier?
People skills are the number one tool that any person needs in life. So whether you were a Scorpion and your horoscope tells you that you are a hard headed person or you are a Leo and your horoscope tells you that you are easy to get along with others, in both cases, learn people skills. Start by assessing your position within the organization. This means you do not sit at the head of the table when you first join (unless you were appointed as the head of that group). This also means that you do not nod your head "yes" every time your manager says a word or cough. This will make you lose the creditability and respect of your peers. Be nice, feel the rhythm of the relationships whether it is casual and easy or it is loaded with backstabbers, etc. Adopt an approach that keeps you respectable, try to help the people around you as sharing the knowledge you have will not make you lose your job, it is the other way around.
And finally, I know my stuff which makes my job a lot easier .
How did you get started in your role as a Business and Systems Analyst?
I started as a developer and earned my living writing hundreds of thousands of Visual FoxPro code. After earning my MBA in 2000, Ford Motor Land (a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company) decided to move me to the business side to be their spokesperson with IT. And that was the beginning of my journey as a business and system analyst. While working at ABN AMRO Bank in Michigan, I was more of a Business Analyst and was involved in several Six Sigma process enhancement projects. At Countrywide Home Loans, I was more of a systems analyst.
What advice would you like to pass on to junior Business Analysts?
Respond to your emails. People like that. Even if you do not have the answer, acknowledge that you are aware of the request and you will seek the answer. On the technical side, learn and seek help. Knowledge exists around you. Proper knowledge, people skills and a good plan will eventually set you apart from others.
What does a day in your current job look like?
I usually facilitate requirements elicitation sessions, design sessions, follow-up on emails, travel between AMEX facilities to attend meetings, review use cases, etc.
If you were to learn a new skill or competency what would it be and why?
I'm still trying to learn the best "personal" knowledge management technique. That includes filing emails in a pre-structured hierarchy so I can find them later with ease; filing my paper work the same way, etc.
Any final thoughts?
I have been working very hard on a research for the best use of "use cases" in the SDLC cycle. Many organizations are discovering suddenly the "hot n sexy" use cases and they believe it will solve the world hunger problems! Now we all know it will not do that as the world population is exploding from 1 billion in 1820, to 2 billion in 1930, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1988, and 6 billion in 2000!