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How Do You Manage an Offsite Business Analyst?

Do you, as a manager, actually know what your employees are doing on a day by day basis on client site? Are you aware, until their performance appraisal, of what projects they are working on and what tools they’re using to get the job done?

I am in a situation faced by thousands of consultants around the globe. How do you fairly represent your day to day job to your manager? I either end up:

  • ‘Bigging myself up’
  • Talking my achievements down

And always…

  • Getting positive but mostly useless feedback from clients

Let’s address them one by one.

Having worked on one or more projects for months, a BA (should) know each and every one of them inside out. A BA (should) know all of the things that went right/wrong, hopefully produce a lessons learned report that you (should) be able to recite in your sleep. So when describing your role in this project of course you’re going to sound knowledgeable, efficient, and demonstrate a level of understanding that would make the Dalai Lama feel queasy.

But is what you achieved as impressive as it sounds?

At this point it’s down to the manager to delve further. They have most likely been a BA at some point in their career and should know how to make you squirm!

But this is a performance review, not an interrogation!

Of course it’s not… that is why it shouldn’t come to a performance appraisal for you to know what your employees are doing. Even if you’re based in a different county you should still be able to pick up the phone at least once a month. This not only helps employees ask that annoying question about timesheets, but also feel a bond to the ‘mother ship’ and discuss that Christmas Party (did you hear what Lisa did in the boardroom?!).

At the end of the day, there is no point in exaggerating. Your manager should have regular enough contact with both the consultant and the client in order to understand what is expected of both the project team and individual employees. The same should apply for ‘talking yourself down’… there is no place for modesty in a performance appraisal. Unless you don’t like pay rises of course…

What about feedback?

It’s so rare for your own colleagues/manager to provide honest feedback why should your client? If you’re not up to the job they can just send you back to the dogs bench.

Unless I ask for feedback on specific areas I would generally receive a paragraph saying that I turn up to work on time, I do everything that is expected of me and I have a great relationship with stakeholders. Oh, and I’m really good at organising people’s leaving presents…

Surely companies should have a template for feedback provided to clients to enable them to answer honestly and fairly about the consultant? Or is it up to the consultant to have enough common sense to do it themselves?

For each of the consultant’s project related SMART objectives there should be a measure which a client can comment on. The feedback can then be sent to the manager, the consultant or both.

How many requirements document did Lisa churn out in 2013? Who’s Lisa and what’s a requirements document? Oh dear Lisa, I think we need to talk…

This all boils back to the way that your company performance manages you and your fellow employees… I just hope for your sake you’re not your company’s version of Lisa.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.