What makes a great BA? If you recognise any of these attributes in your BAs, hold them tight because they are highly valuable.
Few of us are in any doubt that post-COVID, the current and near-future business climate remains challenging. Yet against the macro landscape of uncertainty, change, and having to adapt to new business models, the forces of constant change in technology, the need to evolve or die, and distributed teams are often seen in terms of cost centres rather than as strategic opportunities.
Given the scale and rate of change we’ve all recently experienced, the IT teams within most organisations are getting to grips with the perennial question of how to ensure that there is sufficient budget to implement the projects that enable the business to grow, adapt quickly, and address the increasing risks associated with teams no longer necessarily being co-located.
So how can they ensure they are positioned well to identify the requirements for those projects and ensure that they can achieve what the business needs in terms of IT outcomes?
The answer is to engage exceptional BAs. That said, in our experience, they are often hard to find.
What is the purpose of a BA?
To step back into the 101s, a business analyst is commonly seen as someone who bridges the divide between the business and IT. They can work with both sides and are instrumental in capturing, analysing, translating, and documenting changes to systems and processes that will meet the business needs.
Some business analysts are skilled and experienced in business functions such as HR, customer service or marketing. Others are more experienced and suitable for technical IT positions such as digital, solution design and IT infrastructure.
A good BA doesn’t necessarily need to be an SME.
What do the good ones bring?
A good BA can influence and affect the outcomes of a project in both positive and negative ways, as their ability to communicate, facilitate, and analyse will be critical to successful outcomes. Without a doubt, there are valuable attributes that BAs bring into their role, irrespective of the skill or focus they have.
Our clients nominated three key traits for a good BA when it comes to technology projects including that they:
- Are business-oriented
- Thrive when influencing and controlling how processes are automated
- Are IT-oriented BAs who have a genuine interest and desire to understand and move into the business.
Linking what the business needs to IT systems and processes enables IT to be seen as a partner; one that understands and enables business rather than just providing support in a reactive, costly way.
But how do you know when you have an exceptional business analyst on your team or the potential of a BA when you’re considering whether they will be the right fit?
The critical attributes of an exceptional BA
There are many qualities that define a good BA, however, there are also attributes that set a BA above his or her peers. Over many years of working with exceptional BAs, here are our Top 5:
- They enjoy people and are liked and personable within the organisation
Exceptional BAs enjoy being around people and are comfortable in 1-1 situations or in group situations with changing dynamics.
- They understand the problem and can simply define it
To solve a problem, you need to know what it is. An exceptional BA is not only able to understand a problem but communicate it well to both a business and an IT audience in simple terms and language that stakeholders understand.
- They are diplomats, translators, negotiators, communicators, facilitators as well as analysts
Exceptional BAs tend to act as insightful peacemakers and world-class negotiators in difficult or complex situations. They recognise and understand both sides of the fence in a debate to look for and navigate to that magical common ground. They are able to remain objective and stay above the conflict and often emotional requirements of different stakeholders
- They can differentiate the forest from the trees
Exceptional BAs can view a project from 40,000 and 3 feet and at the same time, which allows them to get down into the deep detail yet step back up out of it to ensure that they understand the various ladders that exist in a project, ensure it is still on target, and that it is meeting the business’s needs. They can communicate the challenges and outcomes at all levels within the business.
- They understand technology … and its limitations
Exceptional BAs know that technology is not a silver bullet and they are respected enough by the business to provide a realistic perspective on what the technology solution can and can’t fix.
The x-factor is in the soft skills
There are many ‘unseen’ qualities that exceptional BAs bring into a team to enable IT transformation and supports a project team to align with the business in ways that foster better partnerships, facilitates buy-in across the business, enables and supports change to occur and invariably leads to better outcomes.
If you recognise these attributes in your BAs, work hard to keep them in the tent because they are as rare as hens’ teeth.
As project specialists, we develop fit-for-purpose strategy. Contact us here to find out more about how we work with your teams or call 02 9098 6300.
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