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Fear of the Unknown for Business Analysts

I’ve been working on a project recently, where we introduced one of our models as a planned deliverable.  For the first phase of the project, this model worked fairly well, and with some tweaks to what we documented, it worked even better. 

It seemed to work very well, especially with a development team that was new to the content and the code as well as located off-shore.  We learned fairly quickly that we needed to be very specific with this team, and make no assumptions.  Without the historical knowledge that the other teams had, they needed the additional, specific information that was provided to them in order to deliver a quality product.

We were comfortable in using this model with this customer.  All feedback we had received from the various roles on the project was positive – except for one.  The customer’s business analysts did not like our model.  They had something similar, but yet it did not provide as much information as our model did.  Their version was one that they had used for a while, and had used successfully with the development teams that had worked on the product for several years.  It explained some aspects of what was desired, but was not as detailed as our version.

The business analysts pushed back on using our model in later stages of the project.  And they pushed back hard.  This took us quite by surprise, for we had never asked for anyone else to create these models, except those who were on the Seilevel team.  We viewed this as a way to take some of the work off the plate of the business analysts, since we knew that they were terribly busy.  We explained the benefits of our model.  We showed them the results.  We offered to train them on how to create them.  We did all of these things patiently, positively, and repeatedly.

And yet, the push back continued.  We offered to not to create the model on future parts of the project (after all that did mean less work for us), but our project sponsor liked the model and asked us to continue to create it.  Every time we thought that the matter was resolved, the issue reappeared and yet another round of discussions began.  Ugh.

As we look into the root causes of why we were experiencing such a strong reaction, we came to the conclusion that one factor is the fear of the unknown.  This is a new model for this customer, and one that would be traditionally created by a business analyst.  This model does take some effort to create, but it saves a lot of time on the back end by having fewer questions to answer from the development team and fewer issues when the code reaches the test cycle.  We believe that there is a fear that this model will become an expected deliverable in other projects that we are not involved in, and the business analysts will be expected to create them.

I do not have a conclusion for this story just yet, for just today the issue reappeared.  But if you find yourself in a similar situation, I would advise a lot of patience.  Be positive about the benefits and weaknesses of the artifact.  Be willing to listen to the arguments against, and be willing to repeat the arguments for.  It is our hope that as this model becomes more understood and familiar, acceptance will grow.

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