A Business Analyst’s job is often considered as a crème de la crème position that is envied by many. And, why not? The role brings in admiration and commands visibility.
Business Analysts are valued in almost all domains and sectors, be it private/public organisations, IT firms, NGOs or government departments. The roles and responsibilities that the position brings help with multi-dimensional growth of the organisation.
While they are the carriers of introducing an organisational change and in one of the most envied positions, it doesn’t mean maintaining the role is easy. After all, the job comes with its fair share of challenges. The role requires one to be fast paced with trends, great at verbal and written communication, tactful, good at solving problems, and possess the ability to analyse and engage with clients and stakeholders. And, the path is often challenging with several hurdles, which you may have not imagined. Let’s discuss seven such challenges faced by a Business Analysts and their possible solutions.
Paralysis by Analysis
Be it agile environment or a traditional one, Business Analysts need to dive into the project right away and start acting as soon as possible. The project could be new or underway, but most often marred with ambiguity. This puts into picture the need to understand the processes from scratch. This can be done by some thorough reading of the business objectives, scope and data and other requirements. A Business Analyst nneeds to be continuously updated with the latest information to put forth a credible and realistic solution. Reading and absorbing heaps of information can be a mind-boggling task, yet something they cannot skip.
Yes, reading all that material from scratch may leave you tired and puzzled. So, it is important to read the project description and its actual demands. Then, ask as many questions as possible. The ability to formulate and ask as many ‘Whys’ and ‘Whens’ in as many ways as possible could help. Asking questions would mean more clarity over the project and its needs. Moreover, you can develop more models and business artifacts than what is required. This would ensure you can focus can aspects that matter the most.
Knowledge and Skills
Business Analysts need to have the ‘know a bit of all’ attitude. Yes, you heard that right. You can’t be a master in the technical aspect but lack the keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business situation.
Technology is evolving and keeping up with technical skills could be challenging for someone with an acumen for business. On the other hand, those from a purely business background find it challenging to acquire technical skills. They have to maintain the balance between technical and business skills. So, how is it possible for a person with technical background to show competency in the business domain and vice versa?
One of the key and easiest ways to solve this problem is to quickly get acquainted with the current technologies, and related business domain and industry. If dealing with specialized areas, then certifications could help a Business Analyst gain in-depth knowledge, which can be implemented practically or could come handy when dealing with a related situation. There are easy to access courses available online that cover a wide range of topics. One can easily take up a certification course online as per their project requirements (technical or business related) at a convenient time and from the comfort of their homes.
Changing Business Requirements
In businesses, change is one thing that is always constant. The stakeholders are known to keep changing their requirements several times in a week or even in a day. These changes need to be deployed thoughtfully to ensure they are a best fit for a particular project, taking into account the pros and cons of implementing the change in a real working environment. This makes it important for the Business Analyst to take prompt decisions on whether to implement the changes or not.
One of the key aspects while taking into consideration the changes to be implemented in a project is its delivery timeline. If the business requirement is changed due to any modification of a particular law, policy or rule by the government, then the change should be implemented immediately even if that requires a certain delay in planned project deliverables. If the change in requirement is due to stakeholders’ unclear vision, then the Business Analyst should take some time out communicate, re-plan with the concerned stakeholder and re-schedule the plan. The change in scheduled deliveries should always be maintained transparent and the need for the longer execution period should be well justified.
Conflicts with Stakeholders
One of the common challenges faced by the Business Analyst is resolving conflicts. These conflicts could arise due to various factors such as team members proposing a new idea for the project, arguing over its implementation, timelines and more. Every time a team working on a project is unable come to a consensus, it is the Business Analyst who has to step in and resolve the matter without affecting productivity and delaying schedules.
A Business Analyst has to thoroughly run through all aspects of the argument, gauge the pros and cons, and have a sound understanding of all the documentation involved with the particular project. Critically evaluating the consequences is a must as the decisions taken would directly impact the project. All of this then needs to be discussed with the stakeholders involved, and a fair case/presentation needs to be put forth that maintains transparency and promises efficiency. A proper and thorough presentation of the matter itself would mean half the battle has been won.
Documentation is an integral function of the Business Analyst. However, getting the essential data is among the key challenges faced by the Business Analyst. In many cases, stakeholders may not provide the exact data required for a solid documentation, which could come in handy during the various stages of the project. Through the long course of the project, it may go through several changes. With the increasing number of modifications in a project, the need for documentation, as detailed as possible, will be of utmost importance. Eventually, the data is crucial in fulfilling the needs of various people involved and belonging to different spheres of the project.
The Business Analyst has to create multiple documents, be it a client vision document or the management plan along with use cases, among others. Along with creating documents, it is also a must to update them by asking all the stakeholders involved as many questions as possible, marking the slightest change, and so on. At the forefront of all of this is the business requirement document that includes all the necessities of the project. The Business Analyst must track these requirements along with the other data at all times to avoid any confusion in the future. The Business Analyst should focus on business needs and ensure the slightest change is written down.
While it is important to gather data and keep a track of the minutest change, sometimes the frequent absence of stakeholders may make this quite difficult. There would be times when the stakeholders may not meet for a stretch, and then suddenly turn up only to ask you to change things that were finalized during their absence. This isn’t all. It is quite possible that one particular execute may attend a meeting while another may turn up for the next meeting, leading to inconsistency at the management level.
The Business Analyst can handle such a tricky situation by keeping all stakeholders in the loop, each time a change has been proposed or implemented. This may, a record of the changes can be maintained and shared. In case of a new executive, all the data can be shared with him or her to keep the process rolling without any delays. However, in certain cases, it is best to highlight such matters to maintain consistency and efficiency in the future.
Responsible for Decisions
We’ve already spoken about the ever-changing business factors, importance of all users agreeing on changes in the project and the need for tactfully carrying out these changes without hampering deadlines. Now, the clients and stakeholders may or may not coordinate while addressing these changes, and the project may hit a roadblock with the Business Analyst claimed responsible for the stalling.
It is the Business Analyst who is accountable for all changes, and so must closely work with every stakeholder. It is his or her responsibility to get the ball rolling, be it conversations, decisions or otherwise. The Business Analyst must present a detailed case to all, and keep the conversation moving, until a consensus is reached to benefit the project.
So, just like every other job out there, the job of a Business Analyst is tough and challenging. However, one must remember problems always come with solutions!