Don’t Deliver a Donkey instead of a Horse
All of us at some point in our life have heard of the children’s game called Telephone Game or Broken Telephone. In this game, Players form a line or circle, and the first player comes up with a message and whispers it to the ear of the second person in the line. The second player repeats the message to the third player, and so on. When the last player is reached, they announce the message they just heard, to the entire group. Very often, the message that comes out at the end is quite different from what the first player had whispered, and this creates a lot of amusement.
Now imagine that same game being played when a project is initiated. In this case, the project sponsor or sponsors may request for a given deliverables at the onset of the project based on business needs. However, after the message gets filtered through many teams, the outcome may not match what was asked for in this first place resulting in a number of unhappy customers or stakeholders. This can be considered as delivering a Donkey when asked for a Horse. The moral of this story is that if there was proper end to end communication, the result would have been much closer to what the sponsor asked for in the first place. Effective Communication is considered as one of the most important aspects of both personal and work life.
Business analysts need to effectively gather and convey information between stakeholders, team members, and other parties involved in a project. Clear and concise communication ensures that requirements are accurately understood, objectives are aligned, and expectations are managed. Effective communication fosters collaboration helps in resolving conflicts and ensures that the project stays on track. Some of the key techniques or aspects of communication within the business analysis domain are discussed below. All of them are equally important and need to be considered during any engagement and can be improved through training and constant practise.
- Active Listening.
Active listening plays a crucial role in business analysis. It involves fully engaging with stakeholders, understanding their needs, concerns, and requirements. This helps the BA to gather accurate and detailed requirement related information, which is essential for making informed decisions and developing effective solutions. Active listening improves collaboration, builds rapport, and ensures that project goals align with stakeholders’ expectations.
- Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication skills are vital in business analysis because they involve interactions with various stakeholders, each with their own perspectives and needs. Along with the Active Listening mentioned above, building rapport, and empathising with the viewpoint of the stakeholders are crucial for establishing trust and understanding. These skills help business analysts navigate conversations, gather requirements, and address concerns effectively. Related techniques such as Collaborative problem-solving, negotiation, and conflict resolution also rely heavily on strong interpersonal communication. By fostering positive relationships and adapting their communication style, business analysts can facilitate smoother interactions and achieve better outcomes throughout the project lifecycle.
- Stakeholder Management
Stakeholder management is a critical aspect of business analysis that involves identifying, engaging, and effectively communicating with all parties impacted by a project. Business analysts need to understand stakeholders’ interests, expectations, and concerns. By building relationships and maintaining a clearly defined two-way lines of communication, the Business Analyst can ensure that stakeholder needs are considered throughout the project lifecycle. Effective stakeholder management involves involving the right people, keeping them informed, addressing their feedback, and managing conflicts when they arise. Successful stakeholder management contributes to project success by aligning goals, managing expectations, and fostering collaboration
Within stakeholder management, a crucial element to consider is Communication strategy. This has a number of components of its own including identifying the audience for each message, understanding the environment or business situation under which the given project has been initiated, getting a clear understanding of the sponsor vision or objectives , being able to define what needs to be said to whom and when, and knowing what are the various ways in which the message can be delivered and feedback received.
Facilitation is an important technique in business analysis that involves guiding discussions and workshops to achieve productive outcomes. By facilitating meetings, workshops, and brainstorming sessions as per the needs of the project, business analysts can encourage participation, manage conflicts, and ensure viewpoints from all the stakeholders or impacted parties are heard. Facilitation helps in eliciting requirements, prioritizing features and functionality, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders. It also aids in reaching a collective understanding and agreement of the objectives and making informed decisions, leading to more successful project outcomes
- Business Writing
Strong writing skills are crucial for business analysts as they are responsible for documenting and communicating various aspects of their work. Clear and concise writing is essential for creating requirements documents, project plans, reports, and other forms of documentation. Effective writing ensures that complex deliverables or impacts are accurately and clearly represented to stakeholders, team members, and decision-makers. It also helps in avoiding misunderstandings and serves as a reference for project progress and decisions. Well-written documentation contributes to effective communication, reduces ambiguity, and supports the overall success of business analysis efforts.
- Presentation Skills
Visual and presentation skills are essential for effective communication in business analysis. They help convey complex ideas, data, and information to stakeholders in a clear and understandable manner. Business analysts often use visual aids like diagrams, charts, and models to represent processes, workflows, and requirements visually. Strong presentation skills enable them to deliver findings, recommendations, and project updates to diverse audiences, ensuring engagement and comprehension. These skills enhance collaboration, facilitate decision-making, and contribute to the overall success of projects.
- Nonverbal communication
It is often mentioned that over 70 percent of face-to-face communication is Non-Verbal. Nonverbal behavior, such as body language, facial expressions, and gestures, plays a significant role in business analysis. It helps convey emotions, attitudes, and intentions that words alone might not capture. Observing nonverbal cues during meetings and interactions with stakeholders can provide valuable insights into their reactions, level of engagement, and concerns. Being attuned to nonverbal behavior allows business analysts to adapt their communication style, build rapport, and ensure effective collaboration. It also helps in detecting potential misunderstandings and addressing them promptly.
By considering and effectively executing all the above techniques, the Business Analyst is certain to have a much higher success rate in delivering and meeting the needs of the stakeholders
- Communication Strategy
This can be considered as the overarching technique or approach that is used and includes elements or all the above techniques.