Soft Skills

Nov 03, 2019
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Learning about mental models and how to apply them to their work is one of the best investments for business analysts interested in achieving the level of deep thinking that leads to better outcomes for their projects and organizations. The first article in this series described what mental models are and talked about the first mental model covered, second order thinking. In this second installment we discuss another mental model that that can help business analysts become better problem solvers: integrative thinking.
Sep 08, 2019
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Learning about mental models and how to apply them to their work is one of the best investments for business analysts interested in achieving the level of deep thinking that leads to better outcomes for their projects and organizations.
Sep 02, 2019
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For the business, it means they not only need to understand the problem the customers are trying to solve - they need to understand that problem in a context and design a full end-to-end experience of solving it. Some people call this process “human-centered design”, some - just using common sense when designing stuff. 
Jul 21, 2019
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The fact that software projects and tasks are reported to be “90 percent done” for a long time has become something of an industry joke. (A related joke states that the first half of a software project consumes the first 90 percent of the resources, and the second half consumes the other 90 percent of the resources.) This well-intentioned but misleading status tracking makes it difficult to judge when a body of work will truly be completed so you can ship the next product release to your customers. Here are several typical causes of “90 percent done” syndrome and a few possible cures.

Jun 09, 2019
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The ability to build and exude self-confidence can contribute to success in many areas of our lives from personal to professional. Unfortunately, many business analysts who are beginners or experienced but new to an organization are not provided with the tools and recourses to be confident in their ability to add value to their organization. As a BA, self-confidence facilitates the ability to build relationships, gain respect, and influence others. Below are some of the most effective tactics that I have taken throughout my career to bolster my confidence as a business analyst. Once I became confident in myself, I started noticing that other people’s confidence in my abilities increased as well. Hopefully, these tips will help you recognize your true potential and the value you bring as a business analyst.
May 27, 2019
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Culture clashes frequently arise when teams are working on requirements. There are those who recognize the many risks associated with trying to develop software based on minimal or telepathically communicated requirements. Then there are those who think requirements are unnecessary. It can be tough to gain business-side cooperation on projects like legacy-system replacement if users see this as unrelated to their own business problems and not worth their time. Understanding why people resist participating in requirements development is the first step to being able to address it.

Dec 16, 2018
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Sometimes I find it difficult to explore new pieces of work in a structured way. When given a new challenge / piece of work it’s easy to jump straight into a solution. However as BAs we first need to understand the problem area better.
Dec 02, 2018
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Surely facilitation is an important part of a business analyst’s job, but it is far from the only part. Analysis in itself should always form the core of a business analyst’s responsibilities.  We are called ‘analysts’ for a reason! Facilitating information gathering and translating it to ‘requirements’ doesn’t make you an ‘analyst’. Go above and beyond, and add value by ‘reasoning backwards’ and ‘reasoning analytically’.

 

Oct 14, 2018
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As a business analyst, one of the most valuable skills you can acquire is the ability to build relationships. This in itself may have more of an impact on your long-term BA career than your business knowledge and technical skills. Because BAs are often key participants in so many different projects and initiatives, it can be difficult to nurture all of the relationships established throughout your organization. The relationship that I will be focusing on, however, is the relationship with the developer(s). Solid business analyst-developer relationships are often easier to facilitate in agile environments; therefore, it is essential to put more effort into managing this relationship in an environment that uses a waterfall or traditional methodology. Below are some tactics we as BAs can use to make developers’ lives easier and enhance the business analyst-developer relationship.
Oct 08, 2018
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The relationship between a business analyst and the stakeholders is one of the fundamentals to the journey of delivery. If the relationship is dysfunctional, the process of delivering the solution will be negatively impacted... Each one of us is blessed with a different personality that makes us unique. In the case of business analysts, personality plays an important role, thus making it a key to survival. Business analysts are adaptive survivors. It is imperative that every impacted stakeholder is engaged and collaborating. It's fundamental to a robust requirements analysis process. Having mentioned the need to bond with your stakeholders, let’s see what skills are needed to be a successful business analyst.

 

Sep 03, 2018
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Well, for one thing, consider the user. I mean, what is a ‘user’?”...  I understand that is what the term is used for, but can you point me to a user. Don’t answer. You could probably point to any number of people around you who would be users.  ...That man over there is using his cell phone, some app or other.... The nice lady who fixed my coffee entered the transaction on a computer in her stand to account for the money and the inventory. She is a user. 

Aug 26, 2018
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Business Requirements Advocacy is neglected in the business analysis practice!  Once considered to be an essential part of IT teams, the business analyst has become an integral position in any successful, market-driven organisation. Rightly said to be the change agents for any business, business analysts help organisations adapt to the changing environment while meeting the needs and demands of all their stakeholders, including employees, customers, and suppliers.

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A BA walks into an elevator, is joined by an executive, and suddenly the executive asks the BA, “So, what are you working on these days?” (Sounds like the start of a joke ...)  Most business analysts, due to their project success focus, think of requirements management when questioned about their work. So the BA responds by describing the features of a business solution that the BA is currently working. The BA seldom mentions the associated business benefits with the work (i.e. why the work is vital to the business). Unfortunately, the BA ignores the first rule of conversation: know your audience. The executive asking the question is more likely to understand and be interested in the business value provided by the work, rather than the solution features.
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Business analysis is a broad discipline and we have a whole range of tools and techniques at our disposal. We may get involved within projects, but also outside of them. Many BA teams are actively seeking earlier engagement—when we are engaged prior to a project being initiated we can work with our stakeholders to ensure that the problem space is thoroughly understood. We can encourage stakeholders to think about many possible solution options, and can work with them to ensure that the option that is chosen is the best fit and has the best chance of delivering maximum benefit. Early engagement also helps us avoid the 'first solution trap'.
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Ground rules are essential for any meeting. It may be what makes the meeting a success or failure. As a Business Analyst we are constantly organizing and facilitating meetings of various sizes to progress through the SDM (System Design Methodology) for a project. It is important that all sponsors and participants of the project understand what to expect from the upcoming meetings to be organized. Ground rules are generally discussed during the kickoff meeting, documented, and then displayed moving forward.
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