Not scribing, not bridging, not shameful…

Business analysis has changed, but our understanding of what we’re supposed to do next hasn’t caught up.

When it doubt, we awkwardly translate. When in a corner, we fill in a template, completing proforma specifications instead of broadening the contribution. When pressed, we assume we know the users’ requirements better than they do, remaining uninformed.

Mostly, we remember growing up in an IT systems world, where computers and their functions defined us. As business analysts, we seek to repeat the old-fashioned tricks that don’t work anymore.

There’s no such thing as a business analyst

As humans, we put things into boxes.

We draw boundaries and define jobs to house the roles inside our organisation.

When padded and lined nicely, boxes offer a place of perceived safety and comfort. A place to point to when something needs to be done (or wasn’t done).

Yet having somewhere comfortable to reside flies in the face of business analysis. Because good business analysis needs to see holistically. It seeks to connect the dots. It stitches a golden thread.

Business analysts are make believe. Business analysis is real.

Business analysis is a particular set of tools. They’re available to everybody, including you, whomever you are. Use them.

Business analysis is a complaint on the way to better

It’s said that the best way to complain is to make things better.

It’s difficult to do that if you can’t see the answer, can’t shape the story, or can’t get buy-in for the work you do.

The first step on the path to make things better is to make better things.

But better isn’t only up to you. Better can’t happen in isolation.

Better is the change we see when stakeholders embrace what we’ve implemented. Better is what happens when the organisation absorbs our work and improves. Better is when we help the goals of those we serve become reality.

Business analysts make things better by making change happen.

Navigating the path to better is called business analysis, and you can do it. We all can.

Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution

Athlete and consultant Stanley Arnold used the expression “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution,” as if inside every problem lies an opportunity. 

But, of course, it does. It’s the opportunity to engage the customer (or the sponsor, or the user, or the executive). To have the stakeholders let you in. To gain consensus. To get a chance to tell their story, and then, even better, to have that story make an impact.

Just as a problem is an opportunity, so is the story of your business analysis.

What you produce has to resonate with your stakeholder, it has to tell them something they’ve been waiting to hear, something they’re open to believing in. It has to invite them on a journey where a change might happen. And then, if you’ve opened all those doors, it has to solve the problem, to deliver on the opportunity.

You have a business analysis problem, and inside there’s a solution.

But only if you look for it.

How to know if you have a business analysis problem

You aren’t busy enough.

Your products aren’t catching on.

The organisation around you isn’t what it could be.

The colleagues you work with aren’t achieving everything they hoped.

Your team needs more people, your work isn’t fulfilling, your stakeholders are frustrated…

If you see a way to make things better, you now have business analysis problem.