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Successful Business Analysts

Successful Business Analysts

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Published by Carl Sawatzky
To be successful in this role, the BA should be capable of interacting with a variety of functional areas within the enterprise while recognizing that each group has its own unique issues and priorities. A responsibility this complex is certain to present many obstacles that have become commonplace. So, the question is the following:

How does one overcome these pitfalls and become an effective and successful BA?

The answers can be found by downloading a copy of this White Paper
To be successful in this role, the BA should be capable of interacting with a variety of functional areas within the enterprise while recognizing that each group has its own unique issues and priorities. A responsibility this complex is certain to present many obstacles that have become commonplace. So, the question is the following:

How does one overcome these pitfalls and become an effective and successful BA?

The answers can be found by downloading a copy of this White Paper

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Published by: Carl Sawatzky on Jul 06, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/05/2013

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Successul Business Analysts:
 
How They Avoid the Five Most Common BA Mistakes
 
Dana Brownlee, PMPProessionalism Matters, Inc.
1-800-843-8733www.learningtree.ca
©2008 Learning Tree International. All Rights Reserved.
 
©2008 Learning Tree International. All Rights Reserved.
Successful Business Analysts: How They Avoid the Five Most Common BA Mistakes
 
LEARNING TREE INTERNATIONAL
 
White Paper
Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1Mistake #1 – Not Clariying the Roleo the Business Analyst. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1Avoiding Mistake #1...................2Mistake #2 – Rushing Through DetailedRequirements Development. . . . . . . . . . . . .2Avoiding Mistake #2...................2Mistake #3 – Failing to Balance Taskand Relationships ....................2Avoiding Mistake #3...................2Mistake #4 – Conusing Users’ StatedNeeds with Real Needs ................3Avoiding Mistake #4...................3Mistake #5 –Not Quantiying Beneits ...............3Avoiding Mistake #5...................3Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4Reerences. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4About Learning Tree International ........5About the Author. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Introduction
Over the past several years, the job title o Business Analyst has become more and more prevalent. Currently,the International Institute o Business Analysis (IIBA)denes business analysis as “the set o tasks, knowledge,and techniques required to identiy business needs anddetermine solutions to business problems. Solutions oteninclude a systems development component, but may alsoconsist o process improvement or organizational change.”
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 Thus, business analysts are oten the liaisons betweenbusiness and solution development (otentimes IT), can- vassing the enterprise to understand business needs, issuesand opportunities in order to recommend solutions thataddress those needs most eectively and eciently.In this intermediary role, the business analyst must be ableto communicate and relate equally eectively with seniormanagement and users, business and IT communities and various unctional areas throughout the organization whilerecognizing that each group has dierent priorities andissues. As a result, the business analyst’s job is not an easy one. However, those who have been most successul in thisrole have learned to avoid the ollowing ve particularly common and dangerous pitalls.
Mistake #1 – Not Clariying the Roleo the Business Analyst
Most o us are conditioned to think that we’re supposed to“know our job.” As a result, when business analysts (BAs)are given a new project, they oten rush to begin working on “it”. That sounds logical enough, but it’s amazing how oten clients are disappointed, BAs are reprimanded oreorts ail because “it” was never clearly dened rom thebeginning. More specically, it’s absolutely essential thatthe BA dene the scope o their role. Although the generaltitle “Business Analyst” has been used or decades, it hasonly recently been established as a well-dened and widely recognized discipline, hence, the emergence o the IIBA.Even so, the role o the BA can still vary drastically romcompany to company, manager to manager and project toproject. For these reasons, the BA needs to clariy boundar-ies by distinguishing their responsibilities rom that o the project manager, product manager, systems analystand others who might play a leadership role in the eort.Indeed, many BAs—having been too tentative or ap-prehensive to clariy their role prior to task initiation—haveultimately paid the price with dissatised clients, rustratedteams and poor results.
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CONTENTS
1-800-843-8733
 
www.learningtree.ca
 
1-800-843-8733
www.learningtree.ca
 
LEARNING TREE INTERNATIONAL
 
White Paper
©2008 Learning Tree International. All Rights Reserved.
Successful Business Analysts: How They Avoid the Five Most Common BA Mistakes
Avoiding Mistake #1
 As early as possible, BAs must clearly dene their role andresponsibilities by working with their sponsor and asking the ollowing key questions:
What is my role in this eort?
• Whatismylevelofresponsibility?• Whatotherresourceswillbeavailabletome?• Whatwillbethereportingrelationships?• Whatisthe“endgoalinmind”?• Whatspecicdeliverablesareexpected?• WhatotherrelatedtasksshouldIbeawareof 
 (other than those I will be managing as BA)?
• Whatarethetimingexpectations?• Whatproject-relatedrisksareknownatthispoint?
Solving these problems as they arise on a case-by-case basisdoes not move us orward. This is one o the key issues thatcan be addressed by SOA and Web services in particular.
Mistake #2 – Rushing Through DetailedRequirements Development
 A key task or many BAs is documenting business, user and/or system level requirements. Requirements documentationcan be a signicant undertaking, and otentimes BAs simply begin by scheduling interviews, negating the importance o documenting a requirements development plan. Many BAsalso make the mistake o developing a change managementprocess only ater the document is completed.
Avoiding Mistake #2
Particularly or signicant requirements documentationeorts, the successul BA takes time to develop a clear plan
that(1)workswithinthecontextoftheoverallprojectplan,
and (2) includes the ollowing activities:
Developing templates
 
Develop specic, well-organized interview guides and tem-plates to capture stakeholder eedback.
Conducting stakeholder analysis
 
Consider all potential stakeholders beore beginning require-ments gathering. All stakeholders are not equal, so take sometime to analyze/prioritize them based on relevant criteria (e.g.,infuence level within the organization, amount o impact thesolution will have on them, availability or interviews, etc.).
Implementing a change management process
 
Unortunately it’s quite common that, beore the ink is dry on the requirements document, changes will be requested.During requirements planning, the BA should decide: whenthe document will be baselined
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 , how changes will behandled, who will authorize the changes, what the decisioncriteria will be and so orth.
Mistake #3 – Failing to Balance Task and Relationships
BusinessAnalystsareoftenchargedwithxingtheillsof
the organization and as such need to be very structured,methodical, and task-ocused. Many BAs become so ocusedon the task that they orget about the critical relationshipcomponent. As an intermediary among various unctionalorganizations with competing interests and priorities, thebusiness analyst’s success is largely contingent on their ability to build and sustain strong, amiable relationships throughoutthe enterprise. Too oten BAs hit the “inormation ceiling.” Inother words, they no longer receive the inormation they needbecause they don’t have the trust or respect o critical stake-holders who best understand the organization’s problems,opportunities and processes.
Avoiding Mistake #3
The most successul business analysts constantly nurturetheir relationship-building skills. As much businessanalysis work is done in a team environment, eectivebusiness analysts consciously incorporate relationshipbuilding activities into regular interactions. Requirementsgathering can be particularly challenging without an envi-ronment o trust, camaraderie and respect. Wise BAs know that they can garner more inormation rom a casual lunch with a riendly colleague than acilitating a three-hourinterview with colleagues who are earul, distrustul, or
anxious.Recently,anassociateofminerecalledanexperi
-ence where his team had reached an impasse. In response,the BA took them out bowling, which immediately helped
“breaktheice.”Thisisagreatexampleofhowafew 
 
hoursofrelaxationawayfromthetaskcanstrengthenrelationships,expandthinkingandsoothenerves.Indeed,
strong relationships assist in confict resolution, teamproductivity and stakeholder management. Consider thesetips when managing a business analysis task:
•Incorporateperiodicsocialactivitiesearlyintheprocess
or internal core team members. Also, don’t orgetremote teams—consider using the Intranet as a way o including them.
•Taketimetolearnsomethingnon-workrelatedabout
critical stakeholders.
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