G’day BA - (Global Career in Business Analysis)

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Mar 13, 2022
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Have you ever wondered how global a career in Business Analysis might be?

So, you roll up to your desktop or laptop every morning in an office or these days mostly likely at your workspace at home. You check your emails, plan the day, speak to your colleagues and manager, attend meetings and work your BA magic all within the boundaries of your project, client or organisation. Everyone speaks the same language and I’m not talking about English or Spanish, I mean tech speak, industry speak and BA buzz words like ‘moment of truth’.

But what if you were to take your desk and move it halfway across the globe to a different country and time zone? Would organisations even face the same challenges most BAs are helping to solve and would teams use the same techniques to help solve them? I can answer that question with a resounding ‘Yes!

G’day BA - (Global Career in Business Analysis)

Image used under CC 4.0 - Credit to Wikimedia.org

Almost 5 years ago I moved from Australia to the U.K. with my metaphorical BA toolkit in my suitcase. (I had to check it in as it was too big for the cabin 😉). I had a 15-year career as a Business Analyst behind me and had experienced a lot of change and progression in organisations during that time. But there was still part of me that was a little nervous about whether my skills and experience were transferrable and how quickly I would be able to pick up the lay of the land.

I took some time to settle into my new surrounds and when I was ready landed my first BA role in the B2C department of a large insurance company. My role was performing early scoping of small projects that would deliver solutions to areas of the business such as Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, Product and Digital to help them overcome several obstacles impacting their efficiency. I can safely report that almost all the issues identified were familiar to me or at least relatable to the challenges I’d previously encountered with organisations I’d worked with back home in Australia.

Here are my Top 5 universal challenges which I expect would be very close to some readers.

Single View of Customer

For most companies, being in a state where they can utilise complete and up to date customer records from a single interface is nirvana. I’ve seen it all; legacy systems, multiple spreadsheets stored locally or on a network drive with shared access, even a local Access database on a user’s desktop. All these sources containing customer records which are sometimes actively maintained in different places.

What I soon discovered was that the organisation I had recently joined was suffering from duplicate records and multiple, overlapping policies for the same customer, an inability to identify new customers who receive an introductory offer from existing customers and complex customer service procedures that required manual checks and workarounds. Every time the marketing team dreamt up a new campaign to existing customers there were groans from every direction because there were so many sources to query and rules to apply to provide them with the campaign data required. It was a known problem that was down to the way policies were being created in the system through the online customer facing channel and the telephone sales channel. There was an ‘SVOC’ project on the roadmap which was anticipated to be long and complex so until it was able to deliver any outcomes the business was on its own. A nightly report had been implemented to identify any potential duplicate records in the system and these items were investigated by a team leader to resolve.

In fairness, the project did kick off during my tenure, but I didn’t stick around long enough to see its conclusion.

Data, data, data!

Social media companies have highlighted how even the tiniest piece of data can be useful for engaging its users by drawing on intimate details learnt about them and their behaviour over time.

While the mandate at my new organisation was not as hardcore, there were business teams dedicated to capturing data to understand customers for different purposes.

  • A/B testing was employed to test different paths through a process or various offers. The information gathered was helpful to improve usability or to design future products and marketing campaigns.
  • A wide range of cookies were saved in the session to streamline the user’s experience online and make it relevant to them.
  • Analytics data was reported and analysed daily to identify improvement opportunities from incomplete applications and dropouts.

After peoples’ initial reaction to my Aussie accent and pronunciation of the words ‘Data’ (It sounds like da da when I say it) and ‘Cache’ (Caysh rather than cashay or cash) they were able to move on and take me seriously enough to assist them on their small projects in this area.

Customer Journey & Insights

In my previous experience, customer journeys were often treated as a side dish to the main meal. But perhaps that is because the industries I have mainly worked in have been particularly dry and not in the least bit sexy (think Utilities and Insurance). More recently though, even those companies have been exploring how customers think and behave along their journey so they can design their feedback systems and improve the customer experience. Reviews can make or break the success of a product in the market, so it was very important to get the feedback system working seamlessly.

At my new organisation, they placed a lot of emphasis on the customer journey and had already streamlined their online process using data driven insights. One of the small projects on the backlog that I was able to assist with was integrating the Feefo application at 2 distinct points in the journey; one at application stage and one following purchase of a policy. This would help improve conversion and soliciting of new reviews.

User Experience & Accessibility

Often something you will find in a product backlog are improvements that deliver on the simplicity and intuitiveness of an interface while maintaining user engagement. Even further down the priority list are changes to cater for accessibility of online interactions that aim to allow the product to be reached by a wider audience.

While I was settling into my new role, I was introduced to the department’s dedicated user experience expert. She would champion the principles of good design across the teams in addition to delivering usability aspects of the existing online journeys and new features to be implemented. It was a common story that she would be engaged very late after hearing third hand that some functionality was being developed without her consultation, therefore resulting in a tense atmosphere while 2 sides of technology battled it out.

One of the small projects I was involved in was adding a screen reader to the main website which was an interesting experience as it’s not something I have ever needed to use. As a BA I defined the sequence in which the screen reader would work through the written content on the page and how it would handle visual content.

Privacy & Consent

As a user transacting online, I want the data I provide to companies to remain secure and only be used for the purpose it is intended, so that I don’t receive unsolicited contact or open myself up to fraud. I couldn’t help wording that sentence as a user story; I am a BA after all, and it subconsciously comes out all the time!

That puts a lot of responsibility on companies to get their privacy policies and collection of marketing consents in place.

About a year into my new role, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was landing in the EU and all companies needed to comply with the rules or risk being audited and fined if relevant changes were not implemented by the deadline. I’m sure it was not my company alone that left this piece of work until the 11th hour. There was a committee set up to analyse the rules and translate these into practical changes that needed to be made, but no one could seem to either make sense of the rules or agree on the changes as they felt the user experience could also be impacted. They debated whether the user should opt into marketing consents for each channel and potentially lose the ability to market to a lazy user or whether they should be opted in by default and require them to explicitly opt out. It’s all a muddle now, but after the committee failed to provide any outcomes the project landed on my desk!

I hope my journey demonstrates the need for BAs in every nook of the world and in every business challenged by the same issues.


Author: Sakina Haque, Business Analyst at Career Break in Cheshire, United Kingdom.

Sakina is a career business analyst who achieves satisfaction from seeing her designs and requirements materialize into tangible solutions that improve user experience. She often enters into debates around the differences between business requirements, business rules and solution requirements. Sakina attained the CBAP designation in 2012 and is also a Certified Scrum Product Owner.

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