I was reading an interesting chain of comments on one of the LinkedIn BA group websites about the role of a BA being described using a bridge metaphor.
Someone asked why the BA definition in the latest BABOK v2.0 no longer uses the metaphor of a bridge between Business and IT. Kevin Brennan of the IIBA responded that
- the BA role may not deal with an IT component
- the BABOK did not want to”promote a definition that appears to limit BAs to a facilitation role”.
I still like the bridge metaphor but I applaud the motivation of the IIBA to discontinue descriptions that sound like the BA does nothing but take notes from one group and translate them back to another.
Of course a BA is a facilitator eliciting requirements from different stakeholders, working with various business and technical stakeholders to reach consensus and shared understanding about their disparate needs and intentions. A typical BA masters many other analytical and design skills, particularly critical thinking, and problem solving in addition to facilitation. I respectfully disagree that the bridge metaphor limits BA role, and I will slightly change the metaphor and say the BA is more like a bridge-builder than a bridge. After all, BAs do not want to have the masses walking or driving over us to get to the other side. Ouch! BAs construct real bridges so people can reach their destination faster and safer than they would without one.
The most important message about the bridge metaphor is that you reach the other side successfully. Along the way – as the BA is building the bridge, the BA establishes trust, promotes collaboration, demonstrates active listening skills rather than pushing their own agenda, practices good time management and organization skills, focuses on critical requirement priorities, employs rational analysis techniques to suit the situation while simultaneously communicating clearly and succinctly in the most effective style that fits each stakeholder.
In summary to be an expert bridge-builder you must master many hard and soft skills and techniques to connect with various stakeholders (conversing in their unique languages and adapting and learning their terminology and about their systems and processes). Our ultimate goal is to bring everyone along to the other side successfully and to perform this feat well enough that we are asked to build many more bridges in our career for years to come.
All the best,
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- Should the BA scribe at a team meeting? - August 4, 2009
- Why do we need detailed business requirements? - July 28, 2009
- Updated CBAP® Handbook now available for download - July 14, 2009