Why I am a proud Business Analyst

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Feb 28, 2021
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Someone recently asked me “What does a typical day for a Business Analyst look like?” and my response was that if you do find someone who can articulately answer that question, they are probably a very good Business Analyst to start with. No two days look the same in this profession. A person in this role must have many facets to their personality in order for them to be a confident and a strong Business Analyst. I really like the business analysis profession because there are multiple dimensions to the various roles we may be asked to fulfil.

Being a Business Analyst has largely shaped my career and it has also played a big part in shaping my personality. What’s it about this role that has the potential to make a professional grow into a strong and a confident character? The purpose of this article is to talk about these aspects and show how a Business Analyst can use these aspects to their advantage to not only become the best Business Analyst that they can be but also to be a strong and confident personality that will help them at any turn of life; professional or personal.

I have a very thinking job

A Business Analyst never comes to work with a pre-defined set of tasks to do. They have to constantly think about things like:

  • What is the outcome needed? How will I go about my work to get the best possible outcome?
  • What challenges am I going to face?
  • Which stakeholder is going to be difficult today? How do I handle them?
  • What’s the best way to get the requirements I need, from Mr. X? He is not being very responsive over the past few days.
  • I need a signoff for my document and Ms. Y is not having any time to read and review my document and give feedback in time. I need to engage her differently…
  • And so on.

A good Business Analyst is alert and thinks of ideas in response to the situations mentioned above and adopts different techniques to tackle these problems. In fact, IIBA’s BABoK devotes a whole Knowledge Area to Planning and Monitoring. A good habit to get into is to plan one’s approach, conscious of the stakeholder challenges and taking a considered approach to selecting engagement methods and techniques.

I am constantly thinking about the desired outcomes, how I can do my job in a way that gives me the result I need. Like I said before, no two days are the same. What worked yesterday, might not work today.

I need to be extremely adaptable and flexible

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The key strength of a Business Analyst is that we can go into any business and fit in straight away. Our value lies in the fact that no matter where we go, we can present a professional, open minded and unbiased view of the business and its processes and can come up with process re-engineering suggestions. This is where I fail to understand the logic behind asking for a Salesforce BA or a ServiceNow BA. What you really want there is a functional analyst or an application SME. What a Business Analyst will do there is to challenge the common practice and validate with/for you if that is still required. It’s easy for anyone to fall into the trap of “That’s how I have done it before with this application” if you are too married to the solution already. A Business Analyst is product agnostic, so even if we are working on an application implementation project, we do not fall in that trap. We challenge the functionalities to see if that indeed is the best way for the company and its users, which will prompt the developers to think to find new or better ways to customise the product.

I have learnt to focus on my core skills as a Business Analyst so I can do a great job irrespective of whether it is a CRM implementation or an ERP implementation, an Agile project or a Waterfall project, a bank or a telecom company, digital project or an application project. When you focus on your core BA skills, all of these adjectives become a feather in the cap for a BA.... Take pride in your versatility and adaptability.... and you are automatically a legendary BA.

I have a very thick skin

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I often tell people that it is in my job description to be a pain in the neck. Because I will follow up till you give up. The process might often invite angry reactions from stakeholders, but the Business Analyst is still relentless and ensures that they get what they need from the stakeholders. It may be answers, review feedback or sign-offs for documents, that they are looking for. Good business analysts develop a thick skin to not be offended by such angry reactions. They focus on the job in hand and do everything that is required to achieve the desired outcome. I don’t intend to encourage bad behaviour just to get the work done. I learnt how to be relentless and still be likeable. My objective is not only get the work done but also to not burn bridges in the process.

I am creative

In the above-mentioned scenario, the Business Analyst must be creative in how they approach the stakeholders for what they want. I have worked on projects where the business stakeholders are often pressed for time and they do not take lightly to repeatedly being asked for reviews, feedback and/or document sing-offs. If I noticed they are taking an awful lot of time, I offer to take them through the document in a meeting and answer their questions then and there. This gives them a good understanding of the document contents (hearing and discussing is often more effective than reading) and they are invariably ready to give you a sign off as they are more confident and comfortable with what they are signing for.

For some others they want a summarised version of the document, like an executive summary and they will sign off the document based on that. I had to be creative about how I can appeal to different people so that the project can move forward.

Stakeholder engagement is an art

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I have learnt that Business Analysis is a very psychological role. A huge part of Business Analysis is engaging with stakeholders. Stakeholders are human beings too, so straight away this involves dealing with different personalities. Every person responds in different ways to the same situation, so BAs cannot approach two stakeholders in the same way.

For example, broadly speaking, people can be categorised in three ways:

  1. Face to face/touchy feely people: The people who respond best in a meeting or if you walk up to their desk, tap them on their shoulder and ask them and discuss.
  2. Telephone people: The people who respond best to telephone calls. They do not mind having long conversations over the phone.
  3. E-mail/written media people: The people wo respond best to emails or any form of written media. They love to type.

Everyone has one dominant trait and they have a second-best trait, but they vehemently dislike the third one. Every reader will also identify with the above three traits in a similar fashion.

This is just an example of the level of understanding a BA needs to have about the minds of all the stakeholders we deal with so that we adopt the right medium with the right people to get the most out of them.

A good Business Analyst is nimble and is able to think on their feet to adopt the best possible method or approach to engage people in the most effective way so that they are able to achieve what they need in the most efficient manner.

I speak in English with the business and speak Latin with the developers

I made a blunder once to take a developer to a business meeting. The meeting turned out to be a disaster. Developers by their very nature are masters of (technical) detail and are always aware of technical dependencies for a solution to be developed for the business. The business on the other hand only care for the outcome and are not inclined to think about the “How”. They only care about the “What” & the “Why”. The developer talked about the solution in gruelling detail which flustered the business and also made them fearful of the possibility of the intended outcome as they got lost in the detail.