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Do’s and Don’ts of a BA

It has long been discussed about the need of a business analyst in the journey of IT development life cycle and having been associated in that profile for many years I thought of penning down a few thoughts regarding the do’s and don’ts of a business analyst that have helped me understand the organization structure and engaging into an effective solution maker and produce optimum solution to any given situations in the SDLC process.

Do’s

Punctuality: Like in any other industry, the importance of inculcating a norm of punctuality amongst employees is the best form of practice to earn quick results. As a business analyst, if one is to expect timely response from different individuals, it is imperative to be in office on time and to attend meetings on time. This gives a fresh perspective of your daily goals in the organization and helps you to earn respect from your peers. On the other hand your daily 8 hours will be effectively utilized in gathering requirements if no time is wasted in the meeting rooms waiting for your response.

Domain knowledge: Now it has been frowned upon that a business analyst has to have extensive knowledge of the domain he/she is working in but it is not always expected to know everything about the business in a short span of time especially if someone is joining the development team in the middle of the project. To gain insight into the specific domain one needs to have access to as much documentations as possible to have an overview of the business and interaction with SMEs become key to understand the processes involved in the business. Maintaining daily interaction with SMEs and conducting demo sessions from them at the outset of the project helps a business analyst greatly to create a bond with the stakeholders and understand the pain points of the existing system to come up with features on expansion of the product.

Attend meetings: Attending more meetings helps a business analyst to create more accurate and detailed requirement documentation which ideally helps to reduce gap in the requirements. Meetings help a business analyst to think horizontally as well as vertically regarding the application or the product that is being built. More questions appear from different individuals in different meetings which helps a business analyst to gauge into different situations from an operational point of view which becomes new user stories for implementation in the future.

Ask questions: Asking questions is the best way to clarify issues and gaining in depth knowledge from people. It helps in showcasing interest in the ever changing organization and understands requirements properly. A business analyst needs to use inner ear to find out the time and place for questions and recording sessions for future references.

Meet and Greet: The best way to include yourself into projects is to create value in your work. As a business analyst you will have to create situations where in your can interact with people on a daily basis either by email or phone or personal meetings. The more knowledge you have more dependency is created on you to deliver solutions to problems which in turn creates recognition for a job well done.

Seeking feedback: Identifying and supporting the people who can initiate changes in the organization can help business analysts gain managerial skills to manage people in a much better way. Seeking feedback from them regarding your contribution can display your seriousness in the project in hand. Continuous improvement in both professional and personal front can help business analysts gain momentum in their work which helps in timely delivery of products with reduced risk and smoother operation.

Include more people in the emails: An approach to include more people in the emails provides a greater audience and a broader discussion around organizational goals. This also helps in delegating work in various spheres of the organization that are more effective in providing ideas for solutions. Also including organizational heads in most of the conversations helps them track the progress of the work without asking for repeated updates. This also helps in reducing the chances of scope creep in the project.

Don’ts

Assume anything: The worst possible mistake I can think of when it comes to understanding people or ideas is to never assume anything on your end. Be it an idea that is followed by certain events or acceptance or approval of decisions that may or may not impact business goals, even the slightest of the decisions needs to be addressed via email and confirmation should be agreed upon on major decisions.

Claim to be an expert: One of the fundamental rules of business is not to express oneself as a know-it-all when it comes to expressing opinions or ideas. The more a business analyst behaves as a learner and not as a preacher, fewer issues arise out of confusion and lack of clarity. At best it is a business analyst’s primary responsibility to connect with industry experts for clarification and wisdom about the industry as they have been involved in that capacity for years and their experiences are invaluable when it comes to implementing new ideas or feature work.

Attend unnecessary meetings: Although it is kind of mandatory for business analyst to attend meetings for requirement gathering related work, it is not expected from a business analyst to attend all of the meetings no matter how insignificant. Important thing to remember that the time allocated to a business analyst for document preparation is set to almost 12-15% of the total project time which needs to be properly utilized without being hurried into it. So timely attendance of important meetings will help business analyst to save time and channel their energy and work into their daily deliverable in the organization.

Work outside of scope: It is absolutely mandatory for a business analyst to not tread into someone else’s shoes and doing their jobs. Most of the confusion happens when the work allocated do not have any specific personnel and a business analyst may think they can help out by doing project or program management but the shortfall of that situation can be catastrophic as the onus will fall on a BA if something goes wrong.

Put yourself on the frontline: The important thing to remember is that the roles of each and every individual is carefully drafted and it needs to be followed properly while working on any iterations of a project. Now and again there have been situations where a business analyst is faced with questions or issues that can be answered by a managerial level resource but due to unfortunate turn of events a BA is at the forefront answering on behalf of them which sets a bad trend in the organizational hierarchy.

To conclude, the role of a BA is pretty much like a rose in the mud. It is unfettered and provides a positive outlook in the making of product that is of great value. In the journey of a BA there are mistakes made and sometimes gaining the trust of your superiors becomes difficult in the face of an economic downturn. The best possible way to tackle daily issues must involve a person to try to become a face of the organization. The basic do’s and don’ts affect the livelihood of BAs to align their responsibilities in order and in tune of the organization goals. The steps mentioned above are just the tip of an iceberg that needs to be studied thoroughly and analyzed in the SDLC process. I hope you find this article helpful in your journey as a BA and kindly leave your comments below at your convenience.

About Abhisek Bhattacharya

Business analyst with competency in the product leadership of global teams and delivering results. Multiple years of experience encompassing omni-channel retail, e-commerce, and make-to-order manufacturing. Passion for driving change, execution, and engaging with individuals and teams to elevate their performance and career development.

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