3 Secret Steps for a Business Analyst to follow in order to delight all your Stakeholders (including the grumpy ones!)
As Business Analysts one of the most important aspects of our daily lives is to maintain good relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders. I think we will all agree that stakeholders are integral to our success as Business Analysts, without a stakeholder that has a business need to analyze, understand and solve for, our roles doesn’t really have a reason to exist!
Considering that the business stakeholders are the enablers of our Business Analysis roles, it is also the best place for you to start when aiming to be a successful and valuable Business Analyst.
There are a few very simple but powerful secrets to delighting your stakeholders on a continuous basis, which in turn results in incredible success opportunities for you in your role as a Business Analyst.
SECRET #1: Listen for real.
The first very basic but very seldom exercised skill of listening is the foundation for successful stakeholder relationships. You must engage in active listening, not just standing there and pretending to hear what someone is saying. People instinctively know when you are paying close attention and when what they are saying is just floating into thin air. Be that Business Analyst that listens for real.
How do you listen for real?
You make eye contact and engage actively in the conversation. You interpret and repeat back to your stakeholder what you have heard and confirm your understanding by summarizing to them what they have said.
Why is it so crucial to listen actively?
Apart from the obvious reason of making the business stakeholder feel heard and acknowledged, you gain their trust and support of your work as a Business Analyst on the project or initiative. They will go away from the conversation knowing that you as the Business Analyst know about their business needs are and that you completely understand it. And you will. Keep in mind that you don’t have to agree with what the business stakeholder want or is saying, your job is to listen and take what they are saying on board. What happens to the information later down the requirements track is not relevant when being an active listener.
SECRET #2: Inclusiveness.
Make sure you identify all the business stakeholders that have an impact on your project and include them in all the relevant requirements activities. You shouldn’t lumber them with unnecessary meetings but make sure that you are transparent and continuously monitoring your stakeholders in terms of their business needs, their comfort with the status of the requirements and related activities and make them know that you are there to support their needs during the project.
SECRET #3: Invite them to buy into your requirements plans.
So by following the first two secrets shared here, you have gained not only the stakeholder’s trust by really listening to your stakeholders needs but you have also made them feel at ease and included in what you are doing by being inclusive.
The last secret to delighting your stakeholders is that you must communicate to the stakeholders what the requirements plans include early on during the project life cycle. Make sure all your stakeholders understand the requirements process, what you need from them during this process and make sure you get their confirmation and agreement that they will be satisfied with the approach or plans you are outlining to them. This is a crucial step to ensure that you delight your stakeholders. When they understand and agree to the steps involved during the requirements activities and plans, they will become your business stakeholder partners and fully support your plans and help you achieve success.
This way, you are not only making all your business stakeholders feel empowered by being included in the overall requirements plans but you make them feel like their requirements and consequent time spent to provide it to you is part of a formal value driven analysis process.
These three secrets may come naturally to some Business Analysts but then the reality is that most of us allow things such as business politics or time based pressures get the better of us. Consequently, we don’t make our business stakeholders our closest partners by following these simply secrets and we end up viewing them as constraints and hurdles to jump. This naturally creates a negative snowball effect, which if we allow it to, can control whether we are successful as a Business Analyst.
However, by consciously following these three simple and easy to apply secrets you will make your life as a Business Analyst not just much easier but your reputation will skyrocket throughout the business as being an outstanding Business Analyst and person to deal with. You will be successful in your role as the Business Analyst even if the project fails in the end.