Effective Business Analysis during Coronavirus


Coronavirus (COVID-19) is something that's on everyone's mind these days. Many of us have been impacted in some form or another whether you or a loved one have been impacted by the illness, are experiencing changes in the work environment, impacted by cancelled or postponed events, impacted by the empty shelves at the grocery stores, or getting countless e-mails from companies regarding this pandemic. While it's important to be mindful and take extra precautions, try not to panic. Remaining centered is key to moving forward during times such as this. While some organizations have shutdown, sending employees home for an extended vacation, other organizations are remaining functional but are mandating employees to work from home. If your organization falls in the latter category, here are some tips to help you remain effective in your business analysis activities amid the coronavirus.

Staying Healthy

Let's start with self-care. None of these other components will be of any use, if you are not well. Staying well starts with prevention. There are several resources and articles on prevention of coronavirus, so I’d advise you to do some research, especially from local and governmental sources.

Here are a few key points from the CDC website:

Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Some of the things that I have been doing during this time includes the following:

  • Washing my hands whenever possible in public spaces,
  • Keeping foam hand sanitizer in the car,
  • Washing my hands with foaming anti-bacterial soap as soon as I get home
  • Drinking plenty of room temperature water,
  • Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep my immune system strong
  • Avoiding too much refined sugar and processed foods, which can weaken the immune system
  • Drinking anti-viral herbal teas such as ginger, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and echinacea every night
  • Praying over my food and saying grace (which I do anyway) 

Now that we've discussed some general coronavirus best practices, let's discuss how we can remain effective at business analysis during this time.

Effective Virtual Meetings

As many organizations have mandated that employees work from home from extensive periods, now would be a good time to brush up on your ability to facilitate virtual meetings, if you haven't already. I recommend checking out some quick tutorials on the virtual meeting platform your organization uses. Zoom, GoToMeeting, Webex, and Skype are widely used platforms for virtual meetings. The requirements for running an effective face-to-face meeting such as distributing an agenda, keeping the audience engaged, and communicating the purpose and goal of the meeting are all still needed for a successful virtual meeting in addition to a few more items, including the following:

  • Practice using any of the platform's visual or collaboration features ahead-of-time to ensure that meeting time is not wasted
  • Avoid scheduling during lunch
  • Consider the geographic time zones of all the participants when scheduling a time
  • Be sure meeting reminders are scheduled to go out to the attendees
  • Distribute handouts ahead of time via e-mail
  • Understand how to navigate through the platform from a host and attendee perspective (in case you need to guide the attendees)
  • Provide clear directions on how to join the meeting via computer or phone
  • Ensuring everyone can hear you once the meeting has started
  • Check to see if there are any system or sound delays
  • If video conferencing, be sure to look in the right area to make virtual eye contact with the attendees
  • Address all attendees as they join the meeting if possible and appropriate 

Collaboration Tools

In general, business analysts should have a solid understanding of the communication tools that are available throughout their organization. In the current state, while working from home, it will be crucial for business analysts to be skilled in the organization's conversation and collaboration tools. These are also areas covered in the Tools and Technology underlying competency of the BABOK Guide. This is because BAs need to be able to identify and determine when these resources are appropriate.  

Conversation tools are tools that facilitate having discussions when the participants are not co-located. This may include common technology such as:

  • Phones
  • Instant messaging,
  • Online chat,
  • E-mail,
  • Blogging

Collaboration tools are those that allow multiple stakeholders or participants to reach a common goal. For the sake of this discussion, we will focus on electronic collaboration tools that will allow participants to reach a common goal despite not being co-located. Some collaboration tools include:

  • Video conferencing,
  • Electronic whiteboarding,
  • Electronic calendars,
  • Online brainstorming tools,
  • Electronic voting tools,
  • Electronic decision making tools, and
  • Document sharing

BA Techniques for geographically disbursed participants

A key component of mastering business analysis is being skilled in a wide range of business analysis techniques and effectively identifying which technique is appropriate or inappropriate for a specific situation. Also, a professional business analyst must be creative in order to reach stated goals when resources are limited and the conditions are non-ideal. Some BA techniques are great for geographically disbursed participants, while other techniques need to be modified to be effective in remote conditions. Below are some collaborative BA techniques that can be used while performing business analysis remotely:

  • Online Brainstorming – Brainstorming is ideal for eliciting a large number of ideas in a short amount of time. Traditional brainstorming sessions can be modified for remote use by using online brainstorming tools such as Brightidea or Crowdicity Idea Management.
  • Online Focus Groups – Focus groups are a great way to interactively elicit ideas and opinions about a specific product or area of interest. When working from home, online focus groups can be facilitated by videoconferencing or teleconferencing.
  • Surveys – This technique is used elicit business analysis information from a group of participants in a structured manner and in a short period of time. It is usually effective when stakeholders are geographically dispersed, so no modification will be needed when using this technique while working from home.
  • Video Observation - Observation is used to acquire information by viewing processes and activities in their normal context. This technique can be modified to support remote observation by incorporating screen sharing and videoconferencing in the activity.
  • Virtual Interviews – Interviews are a systematic approach to elicit information from a person or group by asking relevant questions, and documenting the responses. This technique can be modified by incorporating videoconferencing or teleconferencing.
  • Virtual Workshops - Workshops gather stakeholders to collaborate on achieving a common goal. This can be adjusted to support remote collaboration by incorporating virtual meeting platforms and electronic collaboration tools.

I hope the information provided serves you well during this time of uncertainty. While your success as a business analyst is something that I am committed to, your physical and mental health are just as important. I encourage each one of you to make conscious efforts to make your health a daily priority. A successful career cannot be enjoyed unless you are in good health! Wishing you good health and prosperity!

Author: Michael F. White, Business Analyst and Founder of The Business Analysis Doctor, LLC


Michael has an extensive background in business analysis, project management and coaching. He has driven innovation at some of the top financial institutions in the nation, holds a Doctorate in Business Administration and is also a CBAP and IIBA-AAC. To learn more about The Business Analysis Doctor, LLC visit: https://thebadoc.com/

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Anthony Constantinou posted on Thursday, October 8, 2020 3:54 AM
No one can ignore the importance of physical and mental health in the Coronavirus era. Everyone needs to take great efforts to make their health a daily priority. Good prosperity definitely comes with good health.
Anthony Constantinou CEO CWM FX
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