Do you make music with your Business Analysis tools?
As you evolve as a Business Analyst, your palette of shades of grey increases too. When you start out as a Business Analyst you tend to look at the world as either black or white. You are trying to find the perfect business analysis methodology or process to follow to apply the different Business analysis tools and methods.
As a junior business analyst you will most likely be guided by business analysis books and frameworks when you choose which technique to apply in any given practical situation. You will also be seeking for the specific notation, and the semantics to use is important to you. Knowing what the correct level of detail or perspective to apply is still a conscious challenge when you apply the chosen Business Analysis tools. This is good and this is exactly how it should be. Every Business Analyst starts with the same challenge of seeing the world of Business Analysis in a black and white way initially and aims to apply business analysis tools accordingly.
“Consider the metaphor of an orchestra conductor. When an orchestra conductor stands in front of an orchestra for the very first time at the start of their careers, they follow a very strictly prescribed method of conducting that orchestra. The orchestra responds as they should according to the notes on their music sheets. As the conductor becomes more experienced and learn to become passionate about the music they are conducting the orchestra for, they become more fluent in the way they apply their technique of conducting. By the end of their careers they can conduct with such creative passion that the music flows beyond what is merely written on the music sheets because the response they are receiving from the orchestra members as a result is much more than just the notes on the sheets.”
This article is there to tell you as a junior business analyst that as you gain more Business Analysis experience working on projects and within organisations; you will learn how to apply the Business Analysis tools in an almost artistic and creative way. As you gain more experience you will start to see more shades of grey when choosing a business analysis tool to use and you will be able to judge the level of detail required much quicker and accurately. You learn to assess a particular project’s needs for Business Analysis activities in a more flexible and effective way. This is why being a Business Analyst remains a challenging career right from the start and if you are a great Business Analyst, it remains challenging right to the end of your Business Analysis career.
Two secrets that will help you see more shades of grey in your Business Analysis career
SECRET # 1: There is more than one right answer in Business Analysis.
As a Business Analyst, especially when you are starting out, you are seeking to find the ‘right way’ to do your Business Analysis tasks and activities. You will find with more experience that you will probably never quite get the one definitive answer when it comes to how to apply Business Analysis methods, tools and techniques. Every organisation, project and individual Business Analyst has their way to apply the myriad of activities encapsulated as part of Business Analysis. The profession of Business Analysis is very clearly defined in an international standard guide called the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK ® Guide). The key point about the BABOK ® Guide though is that it describes the profession of Business Analysis in terms of “what it is” and not in terms of “how to apply” it. There is however in most Business Analysis Techniques a “right way” to apply it but again it allows for you to choose the best time, situation and problem to apply it to. This is why an understanding that there are many different ways to apply Business Analysis tools and methods, depending on the situation, environment and problem, is a valuable insight to have. As you get more experienced as a Business Analyst you will find that this almost becomes a “hunch” you develop when faced with a particular task or business problem.
SECRET #2: Business Analysis tools are important, notation not so much.
This is probably the secret that really good business analysts know but don’t necessarily tell others quite this explicitly. Once you have mastered Secret Number 1 in this article, you will be in an experienced enough position to start applying this secret. So what is this secret? This secret is that getting the specific notation exactly right when you draw diagrams for documents (unless it is low level detailed functional specifications and the audience is software developers) it is not always needed and can in many cases even be a hindrance when you use every correct notational element in a diagram. There are two reasons why this secret, when applied correctly have a lot of value. Firstly, as a Business Analyst our main stakeholders are business stakeholders who do not have familiarity with the intricate notational details of some of the Business Analysis techniques and frankly do not care about them. It is advisable to not show your Business Stakeholders unnecessary notational elements on a diagram when you do believe that a particular type of diagram is the best way to demonstrate a concept or process. The second reason why this secret is a useful one to apply is because it then opens up your ability as a Business Analyst to apply your knowledge of business analysis tools in a variety of more creative ways to reach the end goal of communicating the requirement accurately and more effectively to your audience. The only caveat I would give you as a Business Analyst here around this secret is that you must know the audience of your diagrams or business analysis documents before judging how technically correct the notation should or should not have to be. It is very important to make a sound judgement call about the stakeholders before you choose to apply Secret 2.
The profession of Business Analysis is extremely versatile, interesting and flexible while also being specialised and clearly defined. It should be your goal as a Business Analyst to become so well versed in the different Business Analysis tools that it is easy for you to interpret and respond to all the different shades of grey of Business Analysis and make the music flow.