In most of the projects you encounter, there is at least one person who has experience as a business analyst. This person can be counted on to help derive the requirements and ensure that the features the business requires are built. The problem arises when there is a larger body of work than there are business analysts. This becomes especially true if the scope has already been examined for potential reductions – it appears that there is no way to complete the project on time.
One potential solution is to have additional people work with the team on the business analysis tasks. We can all agree that business analysis is a very specific job – I don’t think we would be here talking about it otherwise! With that in mind, there’s a specific skill set that is typically associated with the business analyst role – having people placed on your team does not guarantee your newfound coworkers will have those skills. Regardless of this fact, there are a number of things you can do to train your novice business analysts.
Lead by Example
Many people do not perform well in a classroom environment because they struggle with the traditional model of read & lecture -> retain & use. An excellent alternative to this method is to have people observe an experienced business analyst perform their tasks during their day-to-day work. Not only do they see these skills put to use in a real world situation, they are also subconsciously developing these skills – they are effectively running a business analysis on a business analyst! By giving your trainees the opportunity to ask questions about why something is done or what the best method is to a task, you are allowing them to practice their business analyst skills before they get out into the real world of the project. In addition the mere act of asking questions about business analysis reflects that amount of thinking someone has done on the topic – its far more likely to be retained in their mind.
Focus on Strengths
One of the most difficult things about being a business analyst is having to deal with many different types of tasks. Between elicitation, facilitation, documentation, modeling and managing, today’s business analyst faces many challenges. Having a team of less experiences business analysts gives you the opportunity to play up each individual’s strengths. Sending a team of two people who are individually skilled in facilitation and documentation can generate excellent results from meetings with the business. Each person can focus on their respective strengths of facilitation and documentation and use their cumulative skills to create high quality requirements. Another possibility is to use those with skills in documentation and management together; they will be able to analyze the traceability of the documentation to verify there are no missing features or requirements. As an added bonus, you will see that each person’s skills will improve in the areas that they had previously struggled with. The idea of learning from your peers whom you work with is a powerful method to train a person.
In an ideal world every project would be sufficiently staffed with enough business analysts to successfully create all of the requirements for a project. When one cannot find enough business analysts and cutting scope isn’t an option, don’t consider the usage of non business analysts for business analysis a death sentence. A little bit of training can go a long way towards a successful project.