The New Year is coming. Have you already decided on New Year’s resolutions? What about professional goals? What plans connected with business analysis do you have for the upcoming year? If none, feel free to take one from the Top 10 list I’ve prepared.
Here you’ve got 10 ideas for the next 12 months. On which goal would you like to work this year?
A language brings not only a literal meaning. When you speak, much more can be understood. When you lack of words, you cannot express what’s on your mind. I am pretty sure that at least once in your life you have experienced this sort of limitation. Your knowledge, creativity, ease with which you deal with people cannot be fully expressed in other language if you’re not fluent enough. If your work requires English skills and it’s not your first language, master it. What don’t you let your colleagues perceive you as an expert also when you speak in a foreign language. If you work with people from different countries, learn their mother tongue. Have fun, satisfaction and win more sympathy of your team mates, supervisors or clients asking them how is it going in their own language.
“Important, but not urgent” – this phrase fits for many meaningful things in our lives as well as all productivity improvements. It’s no different when it comes to learning a wide range of hidden functions of our analysis supporting tools. Which tools do you use? A CASE tool like Enterprise Architects, Visual Paradigm, tools for UML, BPMN or other for modeling purposes, tools for business processes management, requirements management, tasks management, text processing, presentations, team collaboration and countless others tools? Knowing the fact that you use only about 5% of all available functions, give yourself some time, i.e. 1 hour a week for the next 12 months to learn more about the power of a selected tool. Many yet time-consuming tasks may be possible to do in one moment, when you know the right button to click in a right way.
Do you work on a large system in a huge team? Probably you barely know some small percent of the whole functionality. Wouldn’t it be great to know better other application components cooperating with yours? You would finally understand how the whole solution works. Impact analysis would be much more efficient. However, reading a documentation, talking with other teams, learning tool on your own take some time which does not directly result in solving your daily tasks. That’s why, it’s worth to spread it over, let’s say, 12 months. After this time, you will notice the improvement of your general knowledge, feel more comfortable in solving complex tasks and maybe someone will start perceiving you as a great candidate for a more demanding position?
It’s said that analysts are worth as much as their domain knowledge. It’s difficult to deny. The more you know, the less general questions you need to ask in order to understand the environment, processes and definitions obvious for your stakeholders. Domain knowledge gives you also this advantage that you can serve as an expert for users, when they are uncertain or wrong, or at least verify information from those users against the proper source. Subject matter expertise will not happen overnight. Read books, articles, participate in meetings, conferences, talk with people. It will take ages. Luckily, you have entire 2017 to do so.
No matter how experienced in business analysis you are, I guarantee that there are still many techniques you don’t know. And probably those which you use are not performed perfectly. Remember, the richer your toolbox, the more efficient problem solving in diverse situations. Let’s pick several techniques you would like to work on this year. They can be connected with the new area you would like to specialize in, like agile, business processes or strategy analysis. Seek inspiration for example in BABOK 50 techniques list, book about 99 business analysis techniques or other Internet resources. Even if you know some techniques in theory or you’ve used them several times, it does not indicate that you use them efficiently. Let’s take Use Cases – are you sure they are 100% perfect? Read more about it, practice new hints, ask your colleagues for a feedback.
Good relations make a difference. It’s much easier to ask for help, an explanation or open discussion when you know and like someone. Then, you can offer constructive criticism, ask for a change or improvement. Liking is also one of Cialdini’s principles of persuasion. If you have good ideas, convince people in a project or company, let people know you better and let them like you. On the occasion, you will find allies with whom you share values, points of view and plans. Together you will achieve more, make good changes, benefit from a synergy. Devote this year to relation improvements and team building. Keep in mind developers, testers, business representatives and other people you work with.
Is your experience really equal to 7, 10 or how many years as a BA you have or is it just one year repeated 7, 10, 15 times? How did you develop lately? Maybe one day you’ve come to the conclusion that your knowledge and skills are enough? It’s time to go further. Ask for a feedback. Prepare a survey, conduct reviews or simply ask your colleagues for your work outcomes. Are they helpful? Something is missing? Something’s worth changing? Gather all opinions, facts, measurements and prepare a backlog for the whole year of improvements. Go beyond your team. Ask other analysts, find a mentor or external consultant who can assess your work and propose changes.
How much do you know about customers and users of the solution you’re working on? Is it really knowledge or just some unverified assumptions? Stand up from your desk, go out from the office, speak with strangers if you need to. Keep in mind that everything what you do is for them, to solve their problems, to help them achieve more. First of all you should perfectly understand their pains, gains, the way they think, work and use your solution. If you can not say this about yourself with a full conviction, you have an idea for a New Year’s resolution.
Are you aware of trends on the market you’re preparing a solution for? What is the overall situation? Is it still profitable? What risks and opportunities emerge? Maybe some new customers’ needs or sectors appeared? Maybe some takeovers are under preparation? How new actions, products and services of key players will influence the market and other companies? How should your company respond to competitors’ actions? Maybe some customers are still unsatisfied, lack of a good solution for their needs? Lean it first and make a use of this knowledge.
Your personal championship is a priority. Nevertheless, the greatest difference make changes of the whole teams, departments or companies. Share with others your passion for a continuous improvement in business analysis, discover and follow together a more effective way of achieving business goals. Assess where you are today as a team, department or company and where you would like to be in 2-3 years time. Great resource on building business analysis center of excellence and using BA maturity model can be found here: http://www.seilevel.com/wp-content/uploads/Seilevel_RCOE_v1.pdf. Once you prepare a strategy, make a plan for the next 12 months actions. You can do it yourself, ask for help the most experienced colleague or an external consultant.
Have you selected some goals for yourself for the next 12 months? Remember to make your resolution specific enough to easily check on a regular basis if you are on a good way for a success. Think and write down your “why?”. Why do you want to achieve this? How will it affect you, your team, your company? To minimize an effort, do everything regularly – build some new habits. This book will be helpful – Power of habits. Why we do what we do in life and business (https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X).
I wish you all the best in the New Year 2017. First of all, I wish you goals ambitious enough to motivate you for all 12 months and give you a great sense of achievement afterwards. I wish you a great satisfaction from the work as a Business Analysis, courage and perseverance to use every week’s time in 2017 as good as possible.
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