I was in meeting recently with my manager and we were discussing the priorities of our IT organization in the upcoming year. For some reason, items directly related to Business Analysis failed to make their way into the proposed strategic plan. I mentioned this point to my manager and his reply was that Business Analysis no longer has the curb appeal of items like “Cloud”, “Agile”, or “APIs”. I than questioned why Data Security made its way to the list but apparently that area has perpetual appeal. (Go figure). The words conveyed to me in the end were “Business Analysis just doesn’t have that sex appeal it once had”. As a self-proclaimed Requirements Sherpa, I’ve always considered our profession to be “hot”, at least based on what Kathleen Barrett told me. Perhaps, I am naïve but I’ve always thought that if software development were a dating arena, we’d be the ones that would do quite well. Putting my bias aside, I’ve come to an acceptance that we are no longer the flavor of the day and that concerns me. Past experience tells me that our ability to affect change in the Business Analysis arena is directly related to our ability to have upper management listen to us and that in turn is directly tied to getting the attention of decision makers. So what are we do?
There are three thoughts when I consider this issue and I’m asking you as a reader for your input.
1) Being the flavor of the day should not really matter. In the end, the merits of the work and products we deliver should be a strong enough value proposition that we don’t need to consider the need for marketing and self-promotion. If I channel my inner Spock and think logically this is the conclusion that seems to resonate with me. We will rise and fall based on the merit of the work we do. If I consider the inner workings and politics of a corporate IT department, this viewpoint falls aside.
2) Perhaps the solution is to append an adjective in front of our titles. I can tell you that I get more attention if I parade myself as an Agile Business Analyst. For a while we thought Enterprise Business Analyst was more appealing but realized that if we had to continually explain what it meant than perhaps we were deluding ourselves. At the end of the day, is the solution really a marketing effort? Should I feel cheap like a used car salesman in a polyester suit when I stand out to market the new and improved 2017 Business “Deluxe” Analyst? Is this a labeling exercise? Is it time for a roadshow taking an evangelical approach to sell the gospel of good requirements?
3) Is the solution just to work smarter and harder? Figure out what is causing upper management sleepless nights and how our services and products can address that concern. Dare I say we apply a Business Analysis approach to this particular situation and understand the needs and concerns of our clients? Would I not get a more receptive audience if I can sell a solution to the problem they are facing versus just selling generic services? This should also include that magical component to management called metrics. Yes, this is akin to we as Analysts drinking our own Kool-Aid but it may be good for us.
My inclination is the smarter and harder approach but again I am asking you to contribute your thoughts. Channel your inner Justin Timberlake and consider how do we get sexy back to Business Analysis? How do we get the attention of the decision makers when we are no longer the shiny new product that every one wants.
Disclaimer: Yes, this is a very much tongue-in-cheek article but I’ve always believed that humor is an item that belongs in the toolkit of Business Analysts. And if you're asking about the shoes it's time to get out on the dance floor again and I'm hoping this grabs the right attention.
Author: Michael Roy, Business Analysis Professional / Requirements Leader
Michael is a solutions-focused Business Analysis professional with extensive experience leading change initiatives at a tactical and strategic level.
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