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Fishing Tips for Business Analysts

Taking a client on a fishing trip requires some planning and some reconnaissance. A guide never wants to hear ‘that’s not that I came for,’ or worse, ‘that was a bust.’

It’s not uncommon to take a person fishing under the premise of ‘I don’t care what I catch, or ‘I don’t really care if I catch anything! I’m just looking for a day on the water.’ In some cases, the client is being open and honest, but for others – as the day wears on – the attitude and expectations can change. The ‘I’m good for anything, fish or no fish,’ thinking can change after a few hours or fishing over lifeless water, or in the early morning spring cold.

I took one gentleman out who just wanted to catch a meal of pan-sized trout for a meal. After catching a few that matched these criteria perfectly, he eagerly offered ‘enough with the small ones, where are the trophies!?’

Know The Client. Know the Ask

Knowing your client in Business Analysis (as well as in guiding anglers) gives you an out-of-the-gate advantage. Conversations around where the client’s expertise lie, as well as their vested interests in the project, allows you to deduce what might be most important to them, as well as the depth to which they want to be involved in the process, including scoping a solution.

A client yet to catch their first fish may be content with just that, but a client who fishes frequently may have a better idea of what’s out there to be had and have different expectations. Knowing a bit about them identifies the extent to which they can help plan and steer the process.

If a client is one of the owners of the business, for example, and clearly understands the business functions, they may want to be very hands-on in the details of the project. Conversely, perhaps the client is currently getting things done manually in the organization, meaning that any form of a solution will be a step up and advantageous, and they will like to be more dependent on you (the guide) to document a potential solution.

Conversations upfront, with pointed questions about what the request or ‘Ask’ is, and what the expectations are, will make for a smooth trip, shall we say.

Don’t Gold Plate.

A few years ago I was listening to my brother talk about an Atlantic salmon trip he was going on up in Labrador. He was telling me all about what the guide had told him and what was being promised. According to what he was told, this would be significantly better than the angling trip of a lifetime!

A few weeks later he called me back to tell me the trip was essentially a bust. They spent half their time fishing for sea trout (an activity they hadn’t signed up for), and they had missed the best run of salmon, meaning no one in the party caught their limit.

Telling a client everything that is possible for a solution to accomplish potentially leads to some headaches. In my humble experience, I find that having the client detail what it is they need keeps things in better scope. Leading the client with lofty ideas oftentimes gets into solutioning (the how) as opposed to good analysis (the what). A solid understanding of a plan that answers the client’s need is the best starting point, as opposed to burning up the budget with the bells and whistles which can come later (if deemed necessary). As my current manager often says, ‘add the larger pebbles to your jar first.’

Knowing if the client wants to fish for crappie, codfish, or tuna informs the gear you will need, the location you will fish, and how long the trip will be.

In terms of solutions, the local fishing supply store uses an inventory management system, and so does Ikea. There are endless reasons why they don’t need to implement the same one.

Consider the Bigger Environment

Even after you’ve talked to the client and they outline what species of fish they want to catch and how and where they want to catch them, be prepared for surprises. Wanting to fish for brook trout probably won’t work if the wind is in the easterly direction; cod fishing is unenjoyable if there are heavy seas or a lot of choppy waves, and salmon fishing is tough in shallow water in the late summer heat.

Considering external factors (the bigger picture) is one key to avoiding disaster: numbers of transactions, size and type of media/data to be stored, user access to a network or internet connection, personal information stored or moved through the solution, or accessibility and UX/UI issues.

Clients who are moving employees from a manual, paper process to a digital interface may need to consider employees computer skills and abilities. Even if most users are somewhat savvy, there may be some who are intimidated by technology, and they can’t simply be left out of the planning. Perhaps client readiness needs to include employee training.

Has the client implemented software and hardware upgrades prior to deploying a new Learning Management System? Have they considered the use of smartphones as devices that users will log into the LMS with? Have they considered the Information Management issues around the collection and use of personal information during registration?

Whether taking a paying client fishing for tuna, or a buddy fishing for a few pan trout, there are things to consider in order to mitigate problems and end up with a solid solution (full livewell). Ask the questions, know the client, don’t over-promise, and think outside the box, seem to be simple yet effective adages… in the office or on the water.

Either way, good luck!

Jeff Hutchings

Jeff Hutchings lives in Newfoundland, Canada, and currently works as a Senior Business Analyst. He is an avid outdoorsman with a particular passion for fishing the various species offered in Newfoundland’s bountiful rivers, lakes, and oceans.