Team Chronicles: 6 Questions with our BA Rory Maclean – Part 1

 

In the realm of business analysis, where every decision matters, individuals like Rory make a significant impact. In this interview, we sit down with Rory, an experienced and accomplished business analyst. Rory’s insights and experiences in the field offer valuable lessons for anyone interested in the world of business analysis.

This conversation with Rory will provide a candid look at their journey, from the early stages to their current position, and the challenges they’ve faced along the way. We’ll also discuss the evolving landscape of business analysis and what the future holds for this vital profession. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or someone exploring a career in business analysis, Rory’s perspective is sure to provide valuable insights.


Describe a recent project or initiative you were involved in as a Business Analyst. What was your role, and how did you contribute to its success?

” Recently I was involved in a project to digitize a process. Currently the process is very manual and paper heavy. The objective was to get the existing form into an online form that was accessible to the end user and could be scaled up for future additional users. My role in the project was to document the AS-IS process to aid everyone’s understanding of what we currently do. To document the TO-BE process to make sure that the project team knows the end goal, how we can get there and importantly where there are gaps in our knowledge. Whether the gap is in why we are doing what we are planning on doing? Are there issues in data, Cybersecurity, policy?

Then comes the fun part and in my opinion the best part of the job. Working with individuals and teams across the business to understand their requirements. There is nothing greater on a project than working with people to understand their issues and to provide them with opportunities to proceed. Have the people you are working with realise that they have a stake in the change and working with you to capture their requirements will result in improvements to their daily lives. This project like other projects, part of the role of the analyst is to capture future requirements. Then using our analyst toolset to be honest about when those requirements will be met. ”

How do you approach the gathering of requirements?

” One of the first actions you should carry out as an analyst is make sure you identify your stakeholders. Your list of stakeholders should not be a static list, as more information on the project comes to life. Then more stakeholders should be added. The more stakeholders you have, the more requirements you will need to capture. The actual approach to requirements capturing is as varied as the client and the project. However, there are plenty of tools and techniques you can use. Creating an AS-IS process can help start some great conversations. You would be surprised how many times teams and their managers don’t have a consistent and agreed understanding of what they actually do! You can then pivot upon the agreed process to work with teams to break down the process into stages. Ask questions about the stages. What works? What could be improved? What should be scrapped? Find out the why!

Ultimately, I find the best way to approach requirements is with empathy and an open mind. Don’t go into the process with a “I’ll tell you what you need approach”. Give the stakeholders breathing room to talk freely about what they need. Don’t dismiss anyone’s ideas. As impractical as they may seem, it’s not a BAs job to judge. We are there to facilitate the conversation. Not stifle it.

Lastly, I would say be patient. Some teams historically may have felt as though they don’t get taken seriously within their organisation. Now is your chance to get this particular group of stakeholders to become your biggest cheerleaders by actually bringing them on the journey. Explain not just the role of the BA to them, but how projects work. It may not be easy, but it’s well worth the effort. ”

In your opinion, what are the key qualities that differentiate a good Business Analyst from an exceptional one?

” There’s so many but I will limit it to my top 2!

1: Personality

What I mean by that is someone who knows how to read the room. They know how to get the best out of people, whether that’s getting sign off from a difficult stakeholder or breaking bad news to a project board. They know just what to say. Part of that is being prepared. You come with facts and you understand the problem. They also show the human side of the job. I hear the term “Soft Skills” on a regular basis when it comes to being a BA. Quite frankly I find that insulting. There are no such things as “Soft Skills”. Being empathetic, listening to someone, being sympathetic, calm in a crisis and being passionate are fundamentals. At the end of the day, we are working with the most complex machines ever created. Humans! There’s no one size fits all approach. So an exceptional BA takes the time to actually understand who they are working with.

2. Knowledge

What makes an exceptional BA in my opinion is their knowledge. That’s knowledge of many things, not just BA tools and techniques. But knowledge of how projects work. Who’s responsible for what and how as a unit of change, things operate. Keeping themselves informed of how the project is going and what’s coming down the line.

Another key part of having knowledge is the ability to share it. There’s no point in hoarding your knowledge like Smaug. It benefits no one. Instead, take every opportunity to spread the word. Whether the advice is taken, that is almost inconsequential. It’s the fact that the advice is out there. It helps others create more informed decisions. I’ve personally worked with many exceptional BAs over the years. The trait that stood out to me was their capacity to teach. This is something I always try and emulate. Teach those who are coming up behind you. Then once again, they can use their newly found knowledge to figure out how to solve a problem their way. “

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