Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Reading between the lines

In my last post I talked about the importance of communication. I can pretty much guarantee that any job posting for a business analyst will say something about requiring good communication skills. As expected, this is referring to good oral and written communication skills. However, it goes so much further.

When someone says “communication”, most people immediately think about writing or speaking. However, particular for a BA, a huge part of communication is all about listening. Obviously you need to listen to hear what they are saying, but you also need to listen to hear what they AREN’T saying. You need to be able to read between the lines and recognize what they mean (not just what they say).  

In talking with stakeholders I have often had them say that issue ‘A’ is the pain point, then heard much more frustration in their voice when they talk about issue ‘B’. Recognizing that, then digging in to learn more, can mean the difference between success and failure.  A lot of times ‘B’ is kind of like a mosquito – it is little and annoying, but can totally wreck your day. It may be something as simple as the number of button clicks an action takes. If you deliver ‘A’ but nothing changes with ‘B’ your client will never truly be happy. 

For some folks this particular skill just comes naturally. For the rest of us, it can be mastered with practice and experience. If you are struggling with this I would recommend you start by looking for signs of emotion. Pay particular attention to their tone of voice. If their voice changes in pitch or tempo, it’s a good indicator that they have strong feelings about the topic. Watch their body language. I’ve found that people tend to use more hand gestures and lean forward when they have strong feelings. 

If you see any of these indicators, dig a little deeper. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to address it directly. Getting to the root of what your client really mean, not just what they say if once of the key factors to being a successful business analyst.

Until next time, keep on being a B.A. Boss

Friday, January 26, 2018

Soft Skills for Business Analysts

Every job at every level of an organization requires two types of skill sets – soft skills and hard skills. If you are interested in a career in business analysis, I’d strongly advise that you take some time to think about your soft skills and whether they are a good fit. Hard skills can be learned – they aren’t something that you are just born knowing. Soft skills can also be developed, but the roots are often found in your own personality and preferences.

I tend to think of B.A. soft skills as falling into three main areas: communication skills, leadership skills, and thinking skills.

Communication Skills
Active listening
Presentation skills
Meeting facilitation
Public speaking

Leadership Skills
Conflict resolution
Meeting facilitation
Team building
Relationship building

Thinking Skills
Strategic thinking
Analytical thinking
Decision making
Problem solving

Next time we will talk about these soft skills in more details.  If you have additional soft skills that you think are critical for BAs, let me know and I’ll add them to the conversation.

Until then, keep on being a B.A. Boss!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Becoming a BA

Have you ever met a Business Analyst that started their career off as a BA? I sure haven’t. It is just one of those fields that people don’t really seem to seek out, but find themselves thrust into.  Of course, that isn’t a bad thing. When you become a BA you bring with you the sum total of all your previous experiences.

I started my path to being a BA back when I was a sales operations manager. We were installing a new CRM system and since I had more of a technical background than anyone else on the team I was appointed to liaison with the technical team. I was knee deep in requirements gathering before I even knew what hit me. At the time I had never even heard of a business analyst, yet I found myself functioning as one. Long story short, since the CRM system was my baby I wound up taking it over and assumed training and system administrator responsibilities. I also continued to function as a BA for that system.

In my next job I was again an administrator for a CRM system. The company did not have any BAs on staff, so I again functioned as a BA on my own system.  At this point I had been doing the work for several years, yet didn’t officially have the BA title.  I found that I really enjoyed the BA work, so I decided that I would shift my focus when I made my next move.

In my next job I was lucky enough to find a place that was looking for a BA that had CRM experience.  This was the perfect place to make my transition! Even though I had never had the BA title before I had the necessary skills, so I was able to land the job.  After a couple of years there I moved out of state and am now happily continuing my journey as a Business Analyst.

So, you may be wondering why I made you meander through my job history. There is actually a purpose!  I want to encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a BA to take a look at what they do on a daily basis. You may not have the title, but there is a good chance that you either have the skills or you can develop them.

Next time we will talk a bit about the kinds of skills that you need to be a successful business analyst.

Until then, keep on being a B.A. Boss!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Hi! Thanks for stopping by. Since you stopped by my little corner of the internet, I’m assuming you have an interest in Business Analysis. Welcome!

So, what exactly is a Business Analyst? The short answer is, it depends. The role of the B.A. is very flexible and is normally different in every organization. This is one of the things that we will be talking about on this blog.

How about a Boss? When I say “boss” I don’t mean it in the “in charge of the minions” way. I mean it in the successful superstar kind of way. There are lots of ways to be a boss, and we all owe it to ourselves to strive for that every day.

I hope that you will come back and visit me so we can talk about how to further our business analysis careers & be the best versions of our professional selves. Let’s all work on becoming a B.A. Boss!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin