Leadership & Management

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This year’s top 10 business analysis trends show that in many ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In 2014, the focus will continue to be on delivering business value to the organization by leveraging the power of requirements at all levels through Agile and business architecture. Business analysts (BAs) will also continue their quest to take on new skills to meet a broader job scope and the needs of more multidisciplinary roles.

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You’re a successful Business Analyst, but are now ready to take the next step to advance your career. So what is your next step? Do you need to move out of business analysis to advance? Are you a BA who wants to see where your career may go in or beyond Business Analysis? Are you interested in managing BA teams or leading BA teams on projects?

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Business analysts are jacks-of-all-trades -- and masters of some... unfortunately, many BAs fall short. They often spread themselves too thin, lack the requisite confidence to speak with authority, or don’t understand fully the important role they play.

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If you read the title and thought to yourself, “Hey, Mulvey got it wrong, it’s ‘Measure Twice, Cut Once’” I’ll bet you have had an experience with someone who used the old woodworking term. Woodworkers use it to indicate it’s better to double-check your measurements before you commit to cutting the wood, lest you waste time redoing work (and incurring expense if you have to buy more wood). It’s a great proverb to get you to think about double-checking your work and confirming your measurements. But what I’m talking about is using the measurement as an enterprise asset – once you create the measurement, use that over an over when you are working on different projects.

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Interaction skills are a soft skill set that includes tactful communication, mediation, and diplomacy. BABOK divides interaction skills into three broad areas: facilitation and negotiation, leadership and influencing, and teamwork. All of these skills encompass the ability to navigate politics, even in tricky territory, in order to bring people together in consensus on a project, to mitigate conflicts, and to help people feel heard.

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This article describes an integrated system of actions, tasks, and methods for managing project stakeholders. It highlights the strategic business actions, the tactical project tasks, and operational methods conducted by project sponsors, project managers and business analysts respectively.

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Recently I saw the movie “42,” based on the true story of Jackie Robinson,who in 1947 bravely fought custom, bigotry, and violent hostility to become the first African American to play major league baseball. His courage came from his inner strength which allowed him to withstand with dignity the cruel behavior from fans, other team managers and players, and at first some of his own teammates.

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Managers should do some soul-searching; do they really need that information or are they interfering with the responsibilities of others? My advice to managers is simple: Delegate responsibility, hold people accountable, and get out of their way.

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This year’s top 10 business analysis trends focus on leveraging the power of requirements at all levels through Agile and business architecture to deliver business value to the organization. We also expect to see business analysts being utilized in more robust ways, forcing them to take on new skills to meet a broader job scope.

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If a business analyst is to step up to the task of becoming a credible project team leader, she must have an understanding of how teams work and the dynamics of team development. Team leaders cultivate specialized skills that are used to build and maintain high-performing teams and spur creativity and innovation. Traditional managers and technical leads cannot necessarily become effective team leaders without the appropriate mindset, training, and coaching.

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As trusted advisors, business analysts must never forget the value of collaborating with stakeholders at all levels of an organization. The world of Agile has demonstrated this very point and is doing so with great positive impact and effect on the bottom line of many projects. When initiatives and projects are not collaborative, there is always a failing point within the stakeholder community.

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As businesses acknowledge the value of business analysis – the result of the absolute necessity to drive business results through projects – they are struggling to figure out three things:

  1. What are the characteristics of their current BA workforce, and how capable does their BA team need to be?

  2. What is needed to build a mature BA Practice?

  3. How are we going to get there?

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Of the four articles in the series, this particular article is the most sensitive. If not practiced with caution, trying to influence someone or a situation could have a devastating impact. Therefore, this article comes with a disclaimer: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
 

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Teams that are geographically distributed and primarily work virtually face many challenges. One of them is sharing knowledge. I am part of an organization which has a team in Denmark responsible for development of the platform we support, while a team in India is responsible for the maintenance.

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Now that you’re prepared to work with executives, I’m sorry to inform you that the tough stuff is about to begin. While preparation and understanding are crucial elements, and speaking executive language further deepens our conversations, the real meat on the dog bone is taking the next step and beginning to develop your relationship and establishing yourself as a trusted advisor.
 

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