In my recent blog ‘The Secret Life of a Business Analyst‘, I explored the role and outlined the key elements of a good Business Analyst. Today, I want to look a little more deeply into the top three errors that I see Business Analysts make, and how you can drive better outcomes for your project by steering away from these bad behaviors:
Mistake #1 – Jumping to Solutions
At its simplest, the Business Analyst’s role is to elicit and define requirements, whether that solution is a technical system or a business process. This means pulling people together to figure out what the desired solution needs to do and building up a detailed set of requirements.
What is does not mean is designing a solution to meet the requirements. It can be oh so tempting for a Business Analyst to make the leap from capturing the requirements to defining the solution. And like any long jumper knows, if you make your leap too early, you will never take home the prize.
Instead, the Business Analyst needs to stay focused on gathering all the attributes and requirements that the solution should encompass. Only then should anybody start designing the solution.
Mistake #2 –Missing Important Perspectives
One of the traits of a set of requirements is that it needs to be comprehensive. This does not necessarily mean it needs to contain thousands of words – instead it means that the Business Analyst must consider the requirements from all important perspectives.
When building up requirements the Business Analyst must consider the Stakeholders, and select representatives from each stakeholder group to engage with in order to capture a truly comprehensive set of requirements.
Introducing a new timesheet system? Certainly speak with the users of that system, but also with the people who must approve their timesheets, with Finance who use those timesheets to bill their clients, with the clients who may rely on those timesheets to validate their bills, HR who may use those timesheets to capture vacation days. Then consider Procurement who may need to track subcontractor timesheets, the IT team who may need to set up admin privileges, L&D who may need to train people on how to use the system. The list goes on.
A good Business Analyst will know they need to listen to diverse stakeholders on the project to build up a comprehensive set of requirements. It also means they will capture some conflicting requirements from different groups. Much better to capture that now than when the project is mid-execution.
Mistake #3 – Lack of Agility
If we think about the pace of change around us, we have to accept that it is unreasonable to expect that requirements won’t change during the lifecycle of a project. While I have been insistent on painting my house yellow at the start of the project, maybe I’ve now seen a particular shade of blue that catches my eye.
A good Business Analyst needs to be an Agile Business Analyst, capable of re-prioritising project demands as they emerge and evolve.
In a world as volatile uncertain, complex, and ambiguous as is the case in 2021, it is vital to embrace the fact that change will occur. A good Business Analyst needs to be an Agile Business Analyst, capable of re-prioritising project demands as they emerge and evolve.
By avoiding these common mistakes, a Business Analyst will be able to communicate more effectively with and between the business and the development team. This improved communication will lead to defining a good set of requirements in a timelier manner. The end result will be improved project success rates.
How can we help?
Over the past few years, industry recognition of the value of qualified Business Analysts has grown considerably. Aspira has invested heavily in building a range of Business Analysis services, from consultancy to help our clients create better requirements, to the provision of Analysts and training to help develop the Agile Business Analyst skillset.
If you are interested in talking to us on how to de-mystify the BA role, or for advice on the most suitable BA training, please contact us!
Pat Lucey, CEO, Aspira