Last year at this time I wrote a blog, Business Analysis is Dead, Long Live Business Analysis. In that article I made some predictions of the future of Business Analysis. This year my confidante Kent McDonald wrote a post, An Agile Perspective: The Future of Business Analysis, where he makes some bold predictions expanding on my thoughts at the beginning of the year. In short Kent and I talk about the Business Analyst role changing and who in the future will be performing business analysis. Here is an excerpt from my blog to give you some background.
“There are major trends happening today driving this shift. The first is IT project teams are building software differently. Even though I wrote a blog about agile being a fad, Agile is a Fad; agile practices are not a fad at all. After a conversation with a vice president of a large IT group this thought of the shift really hit me. He said he longer hires Business Analysts. After a little digging he meant he does not hire someone that wants their role to only be a Business Analyst. He needs people that can be flexible and play the roles needed by their team or teams. The scale is tipping away from BAs solely doing business analysis work within project teams. More companies are realizing everyone needs to perform business analysis to some extent on the team. Everyone needs the BA mindset because business analysis is not done in a black box or a vacuum. Business analysis is a true team sport.”
Take some time to read through our blog posts to get a better feel for where I am coming from for this post.
If the role is changing then what can you do as a business analysis professional to be ahead of the curve or jump on the ship if your company is already making moves to the future?
Buy-In to the change
If you are in the software development arena, the change is happening. Kent and I are able to make the predications we do because we see the signs that they are already happening. Maybe not at the scale we discuss, but they are happening. By buying-in I mean you need to accept they are here and jump on board.
You need to remember success is delivering value to the customer. Success is not you doing business analysis work on the project. If your team requires you to do only business analysis work than that is fine. But many of the projects you are working on require you to play other roles and have other team members doing business analysis work. With this comes an attitude shift for some. You can no longer say or even think…”It’s not my job”. For managers, you need to be open to rewarding your employees based on team success.
Don’t be afraid to fail
This is easier said than done. With change brings new things. You may need to pick up new skills and maybe you’ll have to interact with your team differently. Rather than doing all the BA work, you will need to coach your team on improving their BA skills. The only way to get there is to get out of your comfort zone and take some chances. The best way to learn is by doing. And when you start doing, failure is going to happen. Learn from that failure and move forward. Be open to make mistakes and be open to team members making mistakes. Managers, reward failure. Think of yourself as a parent encouraging their child to walk. Do you punish your child every time he falls or do you get excited and continue to encourage him? The same applies for your employees. Allow your team to try new things and make mistakes. Applaud the failure, help them learn from that and try again.
Instill a feedback system
To really grow you need to be open to accepting feedback. We do this for projects, why don’t do it for yourself. For projects we instill retrospectives to determine what went well, what didn’t and how the team can improve. Often in project retrospectives the focus is on the process not the people. In the end it is the people performing the process and they need to improve. You should set-up a feedback system for your improvement with those you work with. At intervals that make sense, ask for feedback.
Are the people you work with satisfied with your work? Are you making the steps necessary to be working on project teams of today? You may not know unless you ask. Here is a quick system you can put in place to continually get the feedback you need to improve.
- Ask for feedback. You may never get it if you don’t ask. People don’t naturally give you the detailed feedback you need to grow. By asking them they feel open to sharing their thoughts.
- Thank the person for their feedback. Don’t get defensive and try to explain why they are wrong or why you did something. The thank you makes sure that you heard the feedback and accept to think about it.
- Implement the feedback into your work. Think through how you can take that feedback and make changes. There is an exception here. You know yourself the best and if you don’t feel comfortable with the suggestions given you don’t have to implement them.
- Provide updates to the ones giving you feedback on how you have changed based on their feedback. This one is important. By updating people they know you are listening to the feedback and they will continue to give feedback. One of my pet peeves is when people ask my opinion and never do anything with it or always do the opposite (maybe that’s a sign!). I tend to not freely give feedback to those people. Even if you don’t implement the feedback let them know why.
(Speaking of feedback, let us know how your organization is changing by answering our Question of the Week.)
Remember this does not happen overnight. Just like the changes in business analysis Kent and I are talking about do not happen overnight. You have the opportunity now to be ahead of the curve. Buy-in to the change, try new things and don’t be afraid to fail, and improve by instilling a feedback system.
All the best,