All roads lead to Rome, all project issues settle through a BA. The BA is the communicational center and major action trigger for the project. We interviewed three Business Analysts working at Qulix Systems, and asked them about the skills, techniques and approaches that help them overcome tricky job aspects and, consequently, ensure project success.
Denis Syropushchinsky, Maria Losyakina and Nikolay Makerov, three BAs from Qulix Systems, shed us some light on the inborn and acquired qualities of an employee allowing to perform a top-notch Business Analysis. Here’re the seven BA’s imperatives that contribute greatly to the project’s success.
Commitment to order and system thinking
According to Denis Syropushchinsky, Senior BA at Qulix Systems, the primary mission of a Business Analyst (BA) is to set things in order. In other words, a BA transforms chaos into a consistent system. “What’s more, a BA must have a clear vision of the system’s place within its environment, how its components interact and see what are the extension capabilities of the system.”
“System understanding and profound knowledge of web-services is a must for a BA, – Maria agrees. She emphasizes the commitment to order too and recommends using a clean-copy approach to handle the job tasks efficiently. “Do not deceive yourself by planning to get it right one day. For example, to simplify info processing, – she continues, – before the ever-growing project data morphs into an appalling mass of text and figures, arrange it by system/functionality. Take care of things before they become a mess.”
“To achieve maximum consistency in our work, we comply with numerous Characteristics of Requirements, – Nikolay smiles. – For well-documented tech rechs there are 10-12 major characteristics to follow, while experts participating in the Analyst Days Conference in Minsk named over 30.”
Indeed, for the IT-industry known for its disruptions and ever-changing environments, Business Analysis is an isle of order.
Efficient interpersonal communication
Sure thing, as regards the skillset contributing to an individual’s success as a BA, opinions vary. Many distinguish technical skills as an unmatched advantage of a BA engaged in the IT-industry. Nevertheless, Denis Syropushchinsky prizes communicating skills over many others. “Programming skills are definitely a plus for a BA, as it reduces significantly the risk to screw it all discussing the tech details of the system with a customer. Yet, a BA as knowledgeable about the tech execution as an Architect, is a very rare found. The last word in picking project solutions is still up to an Architect or a Developer”.
“Meanwhile, – Denis specifies, – communicating skills are a universal benefit, regardless whether a BA engages in the pre-sales or system analysis, or whatever else.” Maria supports him, stating that soft-skills are a BA’s hit.
Besides, Maria names a few more crucial BA’s talents that in one way or another refer to efficient interpersonal communication. “An ability to systemize the received information either orally or in a written form as it facilitates greatly holding workshops with the clients. Learn to deliver your findings adequately, for the stakeholders may not have the background and knowledge that you do. It is very useful to be able to trace the cause-effect relationship and scrutinize the problem within various contexts to streamline problem positioning for the stakeholders.”
Appeal for the technology
It is true that an ideal BA is a patient, persistent and scrupulous employee meticulous about details and thorough reasoning. However, above that a BA needs a genuine appeal for the techs. It will help bridge a very common communicational divide between the soft scientists and the technicians.
Nikolay Makerov points out that his yes to the position of a BA stems from a long-lasting interest in technology. “I started my IT-learning at 14. Although later I chose to study law at the university, I never actually gave up on programming.”
After graduating, he continued as a part-time programmer, though already being slightly less enthusiastic about code writing by that time. Due to this, he was in search of a tech-related position that implied some non-tech activity. A BA fitted in perfectly. “I love the job. The morning may start with routine tasks, then follows business talking by midday with a bit of designing in the evening. Furthermore, I can speak the same language that the developers do, which demolishes many operational barriers.”
Reasonable thinking. “Why we do this?”
According to Mr. Syropushchinsky, when embarking on a new project a BA’s principal objective is to get all the why’s about the system (i.e. why a system should do what it’s planned to do). “However, as an outsource company we distinguish between the levels of why’s we have to clarify. High-level why’s of the project are generally outlined by the client’s in-house BAs. Hence, when the clients articulate their vision of the feature set, they already base it on the well-reasoned, substantial findings. After that, our involvement in problem positioning is irrelevant. Anyhow, our BAs need much of reasonable thinking throughout subsequent implementation stages.”
At the same time, it’ll never hurt to have documented answers to why a specified set of features was implemented, Maria reminds. “Stakeholders change, every new stakeholder pushes forward new ideas. While diversity is good, inconsistent and ever-changing requirements play havoc instead of stimulating the achievement of common targets.”
Flexibility in attitude towards clients
A BA’s role in a big-scale project is to collect the visions of many different stakeholders and reflect them in the resulting product. What if a stakeholder responds inadequately or is unwilling to collaborate? Maria recommends taking a break instead of replying straight away in case of communication problems. “Don’t let the emotions cloud your judgement. Give them half an hour to cool down before mailing back. Try to find the grounds why a problem stakeholder acts inappropriate. There must be something more psychologically backed than simply “he/she doesn’t listen to me/has no respect whatsoever”/etc. Isn’t it the time pressure, or the stakeholder’s management who’s urging for the results? Step outside your own perspective.”
Nikolay’s technique is switching to the customer’s worldview and identifying common touchpoints. “Once I had to engage a very influencing stakeholder into the project who was unwilling to switch between the tasks and collaborate actively (which I actually badly needed for the project). However, soon it dawned on me that he was almost mad about designing and mad with anger if he had to deal with tech specs. What did I do? I discussed tech aspects with him from the perspective of the system’s design. It wasn’t easy, but it worked out. So, look for the touchpoints, they are your winning ticket when it comes to making meaningful connections with the stakeholders.”
“All in all, – Denis concludes, – none of our clients have ever asked for the impossible. Nothing like coffee-brewing function in a banking app or sort of. Sometimes clients insist on implementing very complex technical solutions instead of adhering to simplicity. Anyhow, such cases are rare and not indicative.”
Hunger for the unknown
Despite graduating as an economist, Maria opted to step off the well-worn path and plunge into the new. “I used to work at Qulix as an Office Manager at the start, and I liked it here. However, as time went on I sensed the need for a more intellectually demanding job. I weighed my odds beforehand and estimated the learning curve that business analysis implied for me. Thus, my decision was well-thought and justified. No helter skelter. After intensive domain learning I got promoted under the company continuous career advancement program. Coupled with my knowledge and skillset as an economic university graduate I managed to make a new start.”
“The best thing about my work is the chance to do something you never did before, – Denis notes out. – Get to the roots of a new challenge, see into the unknown matter.” Surprisingly enough, as that exactly what many of us fear most. “Fear? Why? We all do something new in our day-to-day life. It’s not nuclear physics that I’m trying to crack. I act within my competence.”
Concern and passion for the result
To release a commercially strong project that boasts impressive operating characteristics costs a lot. However, even when major project targets are achieved and the team all in all coped well, there’s always room for improvement. Commenting on the pain points of any project, Maria mentions low-reactionary stakeholders and indifferent teams. “It may seem strange to you, but I like it when our teams burst out about why we hadn’t done it easier/smoother/etc. It’s so freaking cool. It means that people care and next time we’ll do the job better.”
Qulix Systems is renown for its expertise in Business Analysis due to our impressive pool of BA talents. Need assistance in performing thorough Business Analysis? Contact our Support team for more details or visit our website.