Stakeholders Relationship: How to Make Your Stakeholders Like You?

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Oct 08, 2018
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What role does a Business Analyst play?

Managing stakeholders’ relationships is a foundation that cements a path to success in every project. You cannot be a change agent if you are not a relationship builder!

The role of a business analyst is often optically discerned as a communication bridge between IT and the business stakeholders. They must be great verbal communicators, tactful diplomats, problem solvers, ruminators, and analysers with the ability to engage with stakeholders so as to clearly understand and respond to their requirements in rapidly changing business environments.

Business Analyst and Stakeholders Relationship

The relationship between a business analyst and the stakeholders is one of the fundamentals to the journey of delivery. If the relationship is dysfunctional, the process of delivering the solution will be negatively impacted.

The practice of a business analyst is not an exact science; rather, it’s like an art. Each and every business analyst is supposed to be an artist, a painter who uses the same brush with different colours. The business analyst can aptly be called a survivor. Businesses, like engines, perform best when their constituent gears, cogs, and wheels work in unison. A business analyst needs to understand and account for the effect of every action on every level and convey the need for the consideration of the greater good to the stakeholders.

Each one of us is blessed with a different personality that makes us unique. In the case of business analysts, personality plays an important role, thus making it a key to survival. Business analysts are adaptive survivors. It is imperative that every impacted stakeholder is engaged and collaborating. It's fundamental to a robust requirements analysis process. Having mentioned the need to bond with your stakeholders, let’s see what skills are needed to be a successful business analyst.

Top Traits of a Good Business Analyst

A recent review of the emphasis on requirements and requirements management shows the business analyst is at the forefront of successful change in organizations and enterprises around the world…. Most successful business process methodologies will include business analysis and project management.” This is how Dr. Harold Kerzner, Senior Executive Director of IIL, describes the professional scope for an aspiring business analyst.

Being a successful business analyst does not require a magic wand. Rather, certain constructs can help one survive and adapt in this profession. They are summarized below:

1. “I care.”

Along with flexibility, this quality has been cited as one of the most important, as stated by Johanna R. Andrade in her book, The Best Analyst.

  1. Don’t play the role of a saviour or a champion; play the role of a carer. You must care; if you don’t, then you are in the wrong job. The mission of a business analyst is to heal her/his stockholders’ pain and help them transforming their problem into a solution.
  2. If you don’t see yourself as a healer, then you are in the wrong job!

2. “I’m here to help.”

Stephen K. Henn, in his book, Business Ethics, says that a simple assurance to stakeholders about your timely help instils confidence in them.

  1. Your stakeholders go through some painful processes, have underperforming systems, have defective functions, etc. In such a scenario, a business analyst can bring the analysis capability to help ameliorate the situation. He or she needs to project himself/herself as the helping hand in order to cement his or her position as a helper and not as a stranger.
  2. My motto is that if you are not part of a solution, then don’t be a problem. A positive attitude and advocating for stakeholders’ needs adds value by going above and beyond and taking ownership of your stakeholders’ needs.

3. Remain low key.

In an article for B2T Training, its Chief Curriculum Strategist, Barbara A. Carkenord mentions that “a combination of humility and professional will is often found in senior business analysts.” In my opinion, humility is not only needed at a senior level but also throughout one’s professional journey to the top.

  1. Soak up and consider everything under the sun. Learn not to be an intellectual snob, or you’ll be throwing away a great deal of usable information.
  2. Humility is an attractive quality in anyone and especially when you are dealing with stakeholders that have the potential to direct your business fortune.
  3. No one likes an oversized ego. On the other hand, everyone appreciates humility. All of us may become egoistic at some point, but it can easily be overcome by the virtue of humility. People tend to resent ego and respect humility. Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, “Service without humility is selfishness and egotism.

4. Keep an open mind.

The job of a business analyst, as mentioned earlier, is not an exact science; it’s an art. A good business analyst must be habituated to how the process operates or has operated in near past and able to determine potential targets for process improvement through abstracting waste and incrementing efficiency. This requires open-minded and out-of-the-box thinking.

  1. Keep an open mind.
  2. Push yourself to think out of the box.
  3. Allow others to question your input.
  4. Don’t knock anything before you try it. Listen to what they have to say before you challenge their position, and try to see it from their perspective.

5. “I’m listening.”

Listening is giving your stakeholders a voice and an opportunity to convey their needs and pain. The feeling of being listened to establishes trust and cements healthy relationships.

  1. Listening is an art, and its importance can never be overestimated.
  2. Never underestimate anyone. People often wrongly assume that their thoughts are more connected and complex than others. Never let this thinking overshadow your reasoning.

Conclusion

Experts opine that personal skills are more rewarding than technical skills, and they must be incorporated at each level of vocation in order to climb the corporate ladder efficiently. Some of the skills, like communication, presentation, negotiation, and conflict management, can play a major role in providing the required edge to a business analyst’s career. As a business analyst, always consider the value of your stakeholders. Remember that if you are likeable, you’ll be trusted. If you are trusted, roadblocks will dissipate from your way and make your mission easier. However, keep in mind that it is not about making everybody happy!


Author: Adam Alami, PhD Fellow, IT University of Copenhagen

Adam Alami is a PhD fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen. Adam has a wealth of experience in information technology practices. He started his career as a software developer, then moved to business analysis and project management. His 20 years’ experience revolves around major business transformation projects and process improvement. He accumulated a wealth of cross industry experience in major projects in the areas of Enterprise Transformation, Integration, Migration, and Systems Modernization.

He has a track of academic achievements. He holds a Bachelor degree on Software Engineering from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) and a Master degree on Computing from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Email: adamalami2016@gmail.com

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Featured
Oct 08, 2018
2819 Views
1 Comments
14 Likes

COMMENTS

oupamlaka posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 1:34 AM
Thank you for the excellent article. This certainly reinforces the need to be more "human" when dealing with stakeholders, making for a smoother transition when effecting change of any magnitude.
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