The business analysts ‘guiding principles’

It’s been a while since my last post but I am back…

A previous post was written in answer to a questions from a colleague wanting to understand more about what is required to become a business analyst. I talked about the tools of the trade. I was thinking about what should ‘part 2′ consist of, I was reminded of a post on the batimes website written by Cecilie Hoffman. She talks about her view on the essential competencies and skills (referencing BABok).

My list isn’t really skills or competencies but a blend of them both into a short list of ‘guiding principles’. It’s not designed to exhaustive but more of a conversation point, so please add yours to the comments below. In no order;

  • Know your audience and listen - Get to know your project stakeholders. Having a good relationship with them could be ‘make or break’ for some projects. Remember your view counts but understand your stakeholders needs first.
  • Know your business - It’s important to know the business but equally important to get to know your firms ‘culture’. Awareness of software and systems is also important.
  • Know how and when to communicate – Remember simple and concise communication and at the right time. It sounds obvious but emails that are sent at the end of the day are likely to just be glanced at, if read at all. Emails should be a short summary or update. If it is likely to be more than 3 paragraphs then perhaps an email is not the best medium.
  • Know the project life-cycle and the deliverables you are responsible for – If the deliverables are clear concise documentation, requirements management or the coordination of UAT scripts and testing then do it well.
  • Planning ahead - Again an obvious one but things like agenda’s for meetings and conference calls saves time. A series of short meetings with the right people is likely to provide greater return and focus than a 2 hour marathon with an entire group.
  • Managing change and negotiation - Scope creep is inevitable in any project. The ability to manage the change is important. Sometimes is more important to say no for the right reasons and cause short-term friction than just be someone who says ‘yes’ all the time.
  • Think laterally – The obvious is sometimes the best answer but don’t discount other options however leftfield.

I can see how some of these items may seem obvious, but I hope the list is useful because I need to remind myself on the odd occasion to ensure I don’t slip into bad habits. As I previously stated please contribute your thoughts to the comments.

One final important thing is to not to be afraid to ask questions, whether that be of peers, stakeholders or a manager. Clarity is king.

Good luck..

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