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EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION –A MUST FOR A BUSINESS ANALYST
Posted By: admin January 12th, 2012 5:32 am No Comments

Accurate communication is the key to success for every business. It helps build trust between all parties and from there anything can be accomplished. The role of the BA is to create a bond with the stakeholder so you can truly identify what the need is, which is also something they are unable to articulate, so some digging might be required. Once the need has been determined (and agreed to) then the same bond must be created with the IT side. Great business analysts are great communicators. They communicate in meetings, through elicitation, via email, and through the requirements specifications. Verbal and written communications are key competencies for the successful business analyst. In a nutshell, a business analyst is above all a communicator. He or she is charged with understanding a piece of the business using information collected from the people in that business. Clearly, the needed skill is an ability to talk to people, listen to them, and then ensure that both parties arrive at the same understanding of the enterprise. Moreover, the business analyst frequently has to facilitate workshops, and to use communication skills to bring the sometimes disparate viewpoints to a consensus. A successful Business Analyst has not only great Communication skills but they have extraordinary Interaction skills as well. Let us see in detail, what is the skillset, required by a BA and the effective ways to demonstrate them.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS:

Oral Communication : Verbally expressing ideas , information or other matters 

Effective Oral communication can be demonstrated through:

  • Effectively paraphrasing statements to ensure understanding
  • Effectively facilitating sessions, ensuring success through preparedness and coordination
  • Developing and delivering powerful presentations with appropriate content and objectives
  • Can communicate the criticality or urgency of a situation in a rational manner with proposed solutions.

Teaching: Requires an understanding of how people learn and the ability to use this understanding to effectively facilitate the learning experience. A Business Analyst must be aware of different learning styles includes:

1] Visual Learners

2] Auditory Learners

3] Kinesthetic Learners

Effective teaching skills can be established through:

  • Verifying that learners have acquired information that has been imparted to them
  • Ability of learners to use new skills or demonstrate new knowledge

Written Communication: Required to document elicitation results, requirements and other information for which medium-to –long term records are required. It involves us of symbols to communicate information.

Effective written communication can be established through:

  • Ability to adjust the style of writing as per the needs of the audience.
  • Proper use of grammar and style.
  • Appropriate choice of words.
  •  Ability of the reader to paraphrase and describe the content of the written communication.

INTERACTION SKILLS:

Facilitation and Negotiation: It is the skill of moderating discussions among a group to enable all participants to effectively articulate their views on a topic under discussion, and to further ensure that participants are able to recognize the differing viewpoints that are articulated.

Effective Facilitation and Negotiation are established through:

  • Ensuring participants in a discussion correctly understand one another’s positions.
  • Use of meeting management tools ( Agendas and MOMs)
  • Preventing discussions from being sidetracked onto irrelevant topics
  • Identifying common areas of agreement
  • Ability to identify important issues
  • Understanding and considering all parties interests , motivations and objectives
  • Understanding the impact of time and timing of negotiations

Leadership and Influencing: A Business Analyst’s Responsibility for defining and communicating requirements will place that person in a key leadership role in any group or project team. They have to be effective in formal as well as informal leadership roles, in order to guide others investigating requirements.

Effective Measures are established through:

  • Reduced resistance to necessary changes.
  • Team members and stakeholders demonstrating a willingness to set aside personal objectives when necessary.
  • Articulation of a clear and inspiring vision of a desired future state.

Teamwork: Business Analysts must be able to work closely with other team members to effectively support their work so that solutions can be effectively implemented.

Effective Measures are established through:

  • Fostering a collaborative working environment
  • Effective resolution of conflict
  • Developing trust among team members
  • Support among the team of shared high standards of achievement
  • Team members have a shared sense of ownership of the team goals.

 

Following are some key points/rules that a Business Analyst must follow in order to achieve the organizational goals and attain optimum results.

A] COMMUNICATING WITH BUSINESS STAKEHOLDERS

 It is never a waste of time to define the problem before discussing solutions. Sometimes business stakeholders just aren’t sure where to start with “requirements”. Become a sounding board for new ideas and look for ways to help your stakeholders discover technical possibilities.

 Business analysts are often in a position to reach across organizational boundaries, especially both the aspects of business and technology. A business analyst should be in a position to forge new paths of communication between business and IT.

B] IMPROVING BUSINESS ANALYST / DEVELOPER COMMUNICATION

To overcome this communication barrier between analysts and developers, one tactic is to use at a cross-roads between requirements and design is to take a couple of steps back. So, take a few steps back. Go back to the problem one is trying to solve and getting crystal clear idea about it as an implementation team. Encouraging the developing team to ask questions and helping the BA clarify their thinking. A Business Analyst has to go into this activity with an open mind. They have to trust their implementation team, but also respect their intellects and believe that there is most likely a better solution.

And to pre-empt the above problem, BA’s must always look for opportunities to share business context with their technical team. It is a positive form of communication and will do wonders in establishing and strengthening the relationships.

C] OVERCOMING COMMON BA COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES

 The biggest challenge sometimes in front of a Business Analyst is to deal with the different attitudes and natures of the various stakeholders involved. The more authority /power a stakeholder has, the communication challenges increase.  Appropriateness of the words used is yet another factor where one has to be extra careful. For example: If someone feels the urge to say “I told you so”, a BA will put in a more sophisticated form / professional equivalent of “remember last week when I pointed that out”. It is always a good way to influence the stakeholders.

D] TECHNIQUES AND TEMPLATES TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION

There are a few tools that do so much to improve both your organization and how a BA communicates with others. They include *An “Issues list” or a “To do list” — go beyond proactive communication by using an issues list to drive attention to open items and breed accountability amongst the stakeholder team. Another one is *A “meeting agenda” — avoid mystery meetings with quick and simple agendas and start the meetings by establishing context.

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