In our first installment: “4 Essential Skills a Business Analyst Brings to a Project,” we discussed how specific skills allow a Business Analyst to be successful with regards to a project. Not only are these skills useful for Information Technology projects, they may also allow the analyst to thrive in any industry, if said skills are refined to become second nature to the BA.
Having innate curiosity, asking the right questions, efficiently gathering ideas, and translating those ideas into useful business and technical requirements are all foundational skills that go a long way when assisting team members at achieving a common goal in a project and program.
The following three skills not only allow a BA to achieve success at any project, they also let an analyst seamlessly move from one industry or project-type to another so he or she can learn the industry on the fly while simultaneously delivering the artifacts necessary to achieve project stability and success.
1. Organization and Discipline
For a Business Analyst to successfully contribute to complex projects (in any industry), he or she must possess advanced organizational skills to properly assist the project managers in the upstream by ensuring the requirements match what was planned-for while also being able to translate high-level ideas and requirements to architects, developers, and quality-assurance analysts in the downstream in order to reach the finish line with an efficient, quality-driven approach. This requires a business analyst to absorb an immense amount of information for new development, change requests to existing application functionality, and understand the difference between deliverables that have been signed-off on, versus distractions that may hinder project success.
High levels of discipline allow successful business analysts to keep their focus on the agreed-upon end goals by appropriate stakeholders while gleaning the correct requirements out of many other influencers’ ideas and/or asks for a project’s true direction.
2. Being Accessible
Being accessible doesn’t just mean having an “open-door policy,” or saying, “reach out to me anytime and I’ll answer any questions you have.” Although these traits are great for any organization and promote communication from all levels of the company hierarchy, they’re not always as simple as they seem. A successful Business Analyst must have a selective accessibility to keep focused on what is important to the project.
It should be obvious that an open-door (or open-space) policy doesn’t mean an employee should feel free to stop by for any idea that pops into their head. A successful Business Analyst has the skills to (politely and professionally) let an employee know that—unless the discussion points are critical to the project’s goals—there’s a risk of wasting time for employees and the organization. This is a sensitive skill to have, and one that comes with experience, but which pays dividends when it’s understood and refined.
3. Being Proactive
Business Analysts sometimes have a reputation for being reactive, rather than proactive. The skill of being proactive seems like more of an innate trait that doesn’t have to be learned. But for most, it does need to be learned. Employers appreciate (and come to depend on) Business Analysts who proactively complete tasks they know will need to be completed down the line regardless of when the project plan suggests said tasks must be done.
However, there is a fine line with this skill. While being proactive is beneficial, analysts must ensure they aren’t overly proactive in the sense that they are completing items on the task list that are simply not ready to be completed. Always keep in mind, the relationship you have with your partners is a two-way street, and the more you can give to your client before they ask, while keeping said proactivity within scope, creates a sense of trust that allows a Business Analyst to overcome any problem areas that arise within the project lifecycle.
In conclusion, Business Analysts go through juggling acts with almost every project they face. Being able to keep to the roadmap is not only important, but becomes an essential skill in the everyday software development life cycle. An analyst who can be organized and disciplined, while also straddling the fine line of being accessible and proactive for stakeholders, would be a dependable and successful employee for any project in any industry. Finally, if your organization needs help defining any aspect of the Business Analyst’s role, and how it relates to project management, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you get started.