Interview Questions for Business Analysts and Systems Analysts


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INTERVIEW QUESTION:

How do you resolve an issue involving conflicting requirements from two or more stakeholders?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 52362 Views // 1 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Elicitation (BABOK KA)

ANSWER

In order to determine what action should be taken to resolve conflicting requirements, the analyst must first determine the root cause of the conflict.  The causes of conflicting requirements are typically the same, time and time again.  Here are a couple of the more typical causes and how you might deal with them.

1) One or more of the stakeholders/groups misunderstand the higher level divisional or company goals which are driving their specific requirement.  This leads them to push for a process or system requirement that is not in line with the true needs of the business. 

  • Take some time to step back and level set everyone on the overall business case for the project.  Set up a meeting to discuss the project/business goals.  Avoid taking an approach of telling them in the meeting what the goals are, but instead ask the conflicting stakeholders/groups to reiterate the higher level goals themselves.  It will quickly become apparent that not everyone is on the same page.  Open conversation can then take place to gain consensus around the actual project goals.  If necessary, the group can go back to a project executive or sponsor for clarification.

2) Both stakeholders/groups understand the higher level divisional or company goals, but each group supports the company goals in very different ways.  Both have legitimate needs which are relevant, but they fail to realize that one group’s contributions to the company’s strategic vision may have less impact than the other.  This creates a difference in the way the needs of each group get prioritized at a company level.  So while one group may have a need which conflicts in some way with the other, one will almost certainly take precedence.

  • This is where a predefined escalation path is necessary.  Both groups have a legitimate requirement to try and fulfill their own group’s need.  However, one will take higher priority over the other.  An unbiased mediator with knowledge of the higher level divisional or business goals can be engaged to break the stalemate.

3) Both stakeholders/groups have the same goal, but they disagree over the best course of action for meeting the goal.  They may disagree over the best way to revise a business process or the best user flow through a system.

  • For a new business process, consider piloting the process with a select group of people for a short period of time.  Measure the results from the new process and compare it to the old process to determine the level of improvement.  Additionally, more than one potential process can be piloted, and the result of the two can be compared to determine the best overall process to implement.  Present the findings of the piloted process to the group. 
  • For determining the best user flow through a system, create a storyboard of screen mockups or even a usable prototype.  Schedule walkthroughs of the screens, storyboards, or prototype with end users of the new system.  (As you walk through each screen, as questions such as: What do you expect will happen when you click on this button? Where do expect the system will take you when you click here? What screen do you think will come after this one? ) Using the findings from the walkthroughs the team can gain consensus around the best possible system flow or UI design. If the conflict is specifically around the design of individual screens, rely on UI best practices and usability patterns to develop the screen design. Present information to the stakeholders describing why the usability pattern has been proven to work so well. Remind them that UI design and usability patterns are documented because they have been proven to work well for many other companies and projects, so they have withstood the test of system users over time.

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ADDITIONAL ANSWERS / COMMENTS

gideonbadmus posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 10:48 AM
Very useful piece of information! Especially for a Jr. Busines Analyst that is new to the business analysis field.
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.





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