Soft Skills

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Your new system just went live and the project, that replaced a critical legacy system, is coming to a close. Business analysts gathered requirements and worked closely with users and developers, but did you capture all of the requirements?

 

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Why does it take an 'act of congress' for some organizations to realize that what they are doing is not working? I have been in many industries(media, manufacturing, financial and the judicial system) and no matter what industry I've been in I’ve seen some of the same themes.

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Facilitation is one of the most critical soft skills of the business analyst, as well as one of the most difficult to master. Working with various stakeholders requires tremendous preparation, insight and finesse in addition to an understanding of key principles of the facilitation process.

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When used properly, a performance measurement program can help BAs and their managers identify specific improvement priorities, clarify responsibilities, and drive the desired behaviors required to achieve business goals. However, in practice it's rare to see managers taking advantage of the benefits a good performance measurement system can offer...

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I often get asked, “How can I get stakeholders to attend my meetings?” or “How can I get stakeholders’ buy-in on the project?” These are complex questions and the easy answer is that you can’t. As BAs and PMs we can’t get anyone to do anything, but we can certainly influence them so that they want to.

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If I said Mentalist to you, I expect you would either think of a mind-reader of the David Copperfield ilk or the TV series of that name. In fact you would probably take it as an insult as neither of these images is particularly comfortable, but both would have a voyeuristic attraction.

The reason I bring this up is that there has always been a fascination with trying to guess what is going on the minds of the people in front of you. This is particularly apt when you are trying to understand what the in-duh-vidual in front of you really wants (aka requirements gathering).

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One day I found that my husband posted an interesting status on Facebook and it made me think of how these two simple questions can produce different results based on the situations. My husband’s quote is as follows: "We can ask the question "Why?" or think of how to make it happen and say "Why not?"

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As agile methods become widespread in organizations, it’s not surprising to see the idea of the business analyst as a dispensable role taking root among IT project teams. After all, in agile approaches, tasks typically performed by a business analyst, such as requirements elicitation, analysis and documentation, are replaced by a conversation between customer and developers.

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Over the years I have noticed that we, as Americans, seem to possess a knack for attacking the wrong problems which I refer to as the “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” phenomenon. I see this not only in the corporate world, but in our private lives as well. Instead of addressing the correct problems, we tend to attack symptoms.

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I recently saw the "The King's Speech," a movie about the relationship between the stammering King George VI of England and his speech therapist... how is this commoner able to help the monarch and become his life-long friend? He is a master at influencing with absolutely no authority.  There are some lessons here for those of us business analysts and project managers whose jobs depend on our ability to influence without authority.

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More and more organizations are taking advantage of business process management (BPM) solutions. And yet, it is often the case that, after an initial success or two, the growth of BPM within a company stalls.

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We can probably all agree that Knowledge Management is generally A Good Thing and that we should do more of it. But what does “doing Knowledge Management” actually involve, and how as BAs can we ensure we effectively reuse our knowledge?

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This month’s column explores the biological basis of human decision-making based on Lehrer’s book. However, it also suggests that lessons from the human brain can sharpen our decision models2 and enhance the process by which we create and manage them.
 

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The ownership of business processes is often a bone of contention – with various parties feeling that they should be considered the owner of certain processes and not of other processes. Inability to agree on ownership can lead to turf-wars when there are perceived overlaps, as well as impactful inaction when no clear owner has been identified.

This article analyses the source of ownership conflict, and makes suggestions regarding resolutions to the problem. It considers the issue of ownership, as well as the issue of custodianship.

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While my co-workers know me as a manager of Business and Systems Analysis, others know me as a Triathlete (A triathlon is multi-sport event involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance events; most commonly swimming, bicycling, and running).  It was while reading a recent article about Triathlon that I began to draw a strong parallel between achieving career goals as a business analyst and achieving goals as a triathlete. 

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