Team Chronicles: 6 Questions with our BA Rory Maclean – Part 2

 

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.


Suppose you receive conflicting requirements from different departments within the company. How would you handle this situation and ensure a consensus is reached?

” For me, the role of a BA can be very much that of a Consigliere. You are a trusted advisor, who can mediate between factions. Ultimately you as a BA are there to document the requirements. It’s not our role to judge whether the requirement is feasible or not. In a situation like this, I would get both parties to the negotiating table. Lay out the situation in a non-judgmental manner and and what resolution is needed. It’s of key importance to get to the root cause of the issue at hand. Is the disconnect due to a misunderstanding? Conflicting policies? Politics? From there we can negotiate a settlement.

An old PM of mine imparted words of wisdom on me for a situation like this “What is the problem we are trying to solve?” Is disconnect the issue? If so, maybe more frequent interactions between departments are required? Is it a lack of understanding of the change or a gap in SME knowledge? Possibly more interaction with the change team is needed to bring the departments on the journey. As a BA although sometimes it may feel this way, you are not on your own. This is where having a solid relationship with your Project Manager really comes into its own. They are there as a sounding board and ultimately they are responsible for the success of the change. So, use them for their knowledge and expertise. I still ask advice of PM’s who I’ve not worked with for years, because they are experts in their profession. ”

As a Business Analyst, how do you stay updated on industry trends and best practices to improve your performance?

” In all honesty, I think the answer is exposure. You can’t know everything about everything. Try and get involved in things you are interested in. For me, that’s been getting more involvement in Agile. Getting involved in Agile projects. Reading about the subject matter, watching videos on it and trying to put what you have learnt into practice. You need a clear understanding of your motives, are you doing what you are doing to get your next role? Or are you genuinely interested in the subject? I think personally, from when I started as a BA 15 years ago, everything I did was so text heavy. Making things visual wasn’t really an option and that’s the way I learned to be a BA.

Over the years there have been many studies that indicate humas are visual and this in fact helps us retain information. This is something I found out in my own learning and therefore incorporate in all projects I’m involved in. I am training myself to add more visuals. I love putting visuals into my work (and that doesn’t mean pie charts!) In order to improve your performance, you have to get out of your comfort zone. ”

Can you provide an example of a time when your analysis led to process improvements or cost savings for the company?

” I like to think that all my analysis has led to some sort of improvement! But a recent change I’m very proud of was working with a client to establish the problem they were trying to solve and come up with an options paper to move things forward. From actually speaking to those involved in the day to day running of processes, I was able to ascertain that the initial opportunity statement I was working with was only a fraction of the story. Essentially, the issue I was made aware of was that a new system was required to replace an existing system as the existing system was not fit for purpose. Like all good analysts, I question everything I was told.

The first thing I needed to find out was “What was the purpose of the system? Who believes it’s not meeting the functional needs and is there evidence to support this?”. I spoke to the team leads, managers and importantly the operations teams. The folks that were actually carrying out the processes and using the system on a day-to-day basis. This in my opinion is the best part of the job, speaking to people! Finding out what they do and why! Then figuring out how you can help them. It turned out there were a few issues that were not known to those who created the business case. These were really critical components to the proposed change. These issues were things like: No Wi-Fi access, no system login, no training on the current system, no consistent processes, no quality assurance of current process or data captured and a lack of understanding as to the purpose of the current system?

All of this was brought to light by actually having conversations with people, recording accurately and sometimes in their own words what the issues they faced were. Making them part of the change rather than someone a change was happening to. It was great to aid the businesses in their understanding of what all the issues a particular department was facing before we jumped to the conclusions surrounding what the solution was. This gave everyone involved the full picture and how we can value add to the change by ensuring that these problems don’t form part of the new solution. “

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