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How to be a better business analyst

How to Work Better As a Business Analyst

Being a business analyst is not for the faint of heart.

Whenever you think you’ve got everything lined up to work correctly, something invariably comes up and disrupts your carefully planned list of steps.

Going with the flow and adjusting course accordingly is definitely something all business analysts get better at with time. 

Still, in today’s world, tools exist to make their lives more manageable than in the past.

Business analysts no longer have to fear their day-to-day at their work and how many fires they’ll have to put out – the software exists to make this easier.

Let’s take a look at how.

Being a Business Analyst Is Hard 

Before looking at the solution, it’s necessary to understand the problem.

And the difficulty is that being a business analyst or business process manager requires a lot of moving parts that, sometimes, you have no control over. Because this is the nature of business processes: they should run regardless of who’s there or not. Especially if, as a business analyst, you’re aiming to improve existing processes.

A lot has been said about the challenges business analysts face daily. And a lot of it is true. 

Mapping out a new process or way of doing something is an uphill climb that a business analyst faces constantly. There will always be scepticism, those “we always did it this way before, and it was working fine” folks, that you will have to overcome. 

Businesses that have been doing processes that take too long or that do too many processes at once to try to compensate for a failure elsewhere are typically too involved in them to recognize these issues. Or, even if they are aware, they may lack the resources, time, or know-how to truly address them with a solution. Assuming they don’t fight you on every step of change to their process management.

And it won’t just be your average employee that you will have to teach.

Getting all stakeholders to follow a particular process is its own battle. Anything from a lack of cooperation to a lack of time from stakeholders will affect capturing and improving the process, and then making sure the process is being followed.

A lot of the time, they will also be reticent to the sharing of information. 

Either top-down or between different areas of the company, or as you are trying to understand their current processes and find places to improve them. Or not even know where certain information is. 

Just like in certain bureaucracies, you might be sent to ten different departments for a particular piece of information that was at the starting point all along. And this betrays a process that clearly needs to be aided.

The other issue of working through business processes for an entire organization with multiple departments is the reality that they all most likely have their own processes in place that they believe works for them. 

As you try to establish a standard way of doing things, you will face friction from those that want to stick to what they know. Even if it is harder or less efficient. They will also all try to convince you that their process is the best.

And this is patently untrue. No process is the best.

Business processes can and should always be improved upon based on the changing needs of the business and the available resources at your disposal as technology continues to evolve.

Tips for Working Better As a Business Analyst 

Clearly, being a business analyst requires you to be multiple things at once

Leader, follower, creator, adaptor, teacher, student, a variety of roles that most don’t always encounter simultaneously in their day-to-day. 

Business analysts do.

But through all this, there are quite a few ways you can overcome these challenges and come out stronger on the other side. Here are some tips to work better as a business analyst.

Software is mightier than the pen

The first thing to think about is finding the right way to analyse the processes currently in place in your business.

The old sticky note, paper, and pen method is a thing of the past in today’s cloud-based, software world.

With the growing need for collaboration and communication between teams and departments in all businesses, it is a no-brainer to transfer everything from analogue to digital to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Software such as Skore was born from this need.

Paper and pen were a great way to get started on your visualization of processes five decades ago, but with the technology and software available today, this is no longer necessary.

Business process management maps can be designed directly in Skore, and they can then be shared with the team to ensure that everyone has access to what they should. Skore can be used not only for businesses directly but also for training purposes to learn how these processes will work, killing two birds with one stone.

You centralise all process management so you no longer have to go between different departments and people to get an understanding of why something runs the way it does: you can see it clearly on your process map in Skore.

Simple and clear communication is key

In addition to centralising all your processes and maps in one place, you want to make sure that you keep communication simple and clear.

This means, for example, using Universal Process Notation, so that everyone is in agreement about what each part of the map means. No more inaccuracies or arguments about different interpretations, the simple shapes have a specific meaning, and they mean the same in all instances.

Skore uses UPN because we have found it to be the easiest, simplest way to ensure everyone in your team can follow along on all relevant processes. Different departments need to talk to each other in the same language when it comes to business processes, and the best way to understand each other is to be absolutely clear in the meaning of the processes. 

A great example of this is Skore’s work with Highlight

We helped them improve growth thanks to cross-departmental communication and collaboration via our mapping software and workshops. The efficiency the team at Highlight and their partners found thanks to our intervention magnified their output and helped them reclaim time that was lost in convoluted processes and lost communication between departments.

For a business analyst, simple and clear communication channels will always be best.

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Manage expectations

As a business analyst, you need to manage the expectations of the business and its stakeholders. When you come in, you start your work by analysing the processes, and then you begin to look into what is possible to achieve.

Just like when you tell your significant other that the hotel you booked has three stars to manage their holiday expectations, so too, do business analysts manage the expectations of what can be accomplished by fixing processes.

How long certain processes take to review and then find the missing link can take time, and as a business analyst, you should be upfront about it.

With a tool like Skore, you can start visualizing it for the rest of the team from the minute you start analysing the processes currently in place. They can see you build them up, or see the final product, and this will help mitigate and manage expectations all on its own.

By virtue of being a collaborative, cloud-based software, your work is easily accessible and engaging. As a result, your company’s understanding of its processes and the amount of work required to change them becomes clear and a realistic goal.

Create accountability

Business process management mapping should also always answer the question of who does what, when. 

When you study processes, you need to know that your dominoes are in the correct order and that the right person is pushing the right one at the right time.

In a restaurant, you’ve got someone taking orders and bringing food to the table. You’ve got a cook making it once the order is reserved. Someone else sitting people down at their respective tables, someone is overseeing inventory, and someone oversees costs. 

It’s the same for any business process for any organization.

Each specific task has to be assigned to someone. And it has to be easy for everyone to know who does what. Because the day that person takes a holiday or a sick day, not only does it have to be clear who should step up, but also what the task actually entails.

At Skore, we use a visual approach to outlining duties and responsibilities as part of our business process management mapping tool. We find that between that and our singular, simple notation, it makes it easy for everyone to follow along. 

Our organization charts and job descriptions, and roles and responsibility matrices also make it easy to figure out who is accountable for what, so that business analysts can simply share it with the specific teams. 

When the time for a meeting to review processes comes up, it becomes a lot easier for both the organization and the business analyst to know who’s doing what when, and therefore to see how you can make process improvements.

Conclusion

Working as a business analyst requires a lot of patience and collaboration.

You work with people from different departments and industries, from all over the corporate ladder, and you need to make sure they are all on the same page.

Whether it’s cultural or language barriers, hierarchical and bureaucratic issues, or a simple lack of time, you navigate through all of these challenges and come out the better for it.

To do it well, you want to make sure you’ve got good business process management and improvement software on your side, and Skore is your best bet. Don’t be shy and get in touch with us to find out more!