Tuesday, 20 March 2018 08:24

Onboarding a New Business Analyst

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It’s always exciting to add a new member to your team, but it can be a bit stressful.

Some advanced planning can make the transition easier and ensure that your new Business Analyst has everything needed to be successful.

Every new employee comes with a unique set of experiences, so it is necessary to assess their current skills as compared to the responsibilities of the new position. Some of this assessment was done at a high-level in the interview process, but now the details need to be analyzed. Consider the following criteria:

  1. BA Skills: How many years of business analysis skills does the team member have. If they are moving from another team within the company, they may need more basic training in Business Analysis techniques.
  2. Industry Knowledge: Has the BA worked in your industry before. There may be specific terms, acronyms and business concepts that they need to know.
  3. Technical Skills: Determine what tools are commonly used by your team that require training. Examples include: Team Foundation Server, Jira, Confluence, SharePoint, video and screen capture tools.
  4. Soft Skills: This may not be immediately apparent when evaluating a new team member but there are several that all Business Analyst need in their toolkit.
  5. Software Methodology: Is your project using a traditional waterfall or Agile methodology. Does your team need to understand the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), Dynamic Systems Development Model (DSDM) or Scrum?
  6. Internal Processes: These are different for each organization and department and will need to be included for every new team member.

Once the required knowledge and skills have been identified, we need to look for existing resources available to train new hires. Be creative. Think outside the box but stay within your budget.

  1. Organizational materials: Most companies have some basic training materials. Some departments may have developed some on their own. Ask if they will share and see if all or portions are applicable.
  2. Team Handbook: Providing the new BA with a handbook or Quick Reference Guide of internal processes can provide a high-level view of the new role. When they ask questions that are not answered in the handbook, the resulting revisions will help the next new team member. If it doesn’t already exist, now is the perfect time to build one. Start at the beginning, what does a BA do every day, every week, every iteration, every release.
  3. One on One training: Internal processes are typically trained by another person on the team. Shadowing an existing BA as they take a feature or requirement from beginning to end is quite helpful.
  4. Internal training classes: If you company provides software internally or externally, they may also have classes or computer-based training available for the application.
  5. Reference Books: Does your team have a library or book shelf of technical reference books? These are very useful for information on BA techniques, technical skills and software methodology. Make it a habit to browse your favorite book seller every few months for new titles.
  6. Learning Management Systems: Some organizations subscribe to a Learning Management System (LMS). Scour the catalog for topics that have been identified.
  7. Blogs, articles and webinars: Always look to BA Times for webinars and articles that meet your training needs. In addition to tasking them to create an account, provide a list of links to the webinars and articles to view.
  8. Third party vendors: Determine if there are in person classes from a third-party vendor in your area for some hands-on training.

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Creating an onboarding plan will help clarify expectations and provide some short-term goals for the new addition to your team. Some suggestions are:

  1. Checklist: A standard checklist for your team can be created that is reusable and modified based on the individual needs. This keeps the things from falling thru the cracks during that hectic first few days.
  2. One-month plan: Define the most important training tasks to be completed in the first month.
  3. Track tasks: How does your team track tasks? Outlook, Excel, SharePoint, Kanban, Jira or Team Foundation Server? You may consider creating tasks for the training to be completed.
  4. 90-day plan: What are the longer-term goals. What activities should the BA be proficient in to be considered a contributing member of the team.

The onboarding experience creates a lasting impression that can determine the new employee’s success and happiness on your team. Conversations about goals and expectations should occur weekly in addition to explaining the “why” behind the processes. Handbooks and training materials should be updated and relevant. Reasonable time should be provided for the team member to complete necessary training. Don’t overwhelm your new employee in the first few weeks. Remember, everyone is unique and there is not a one-size fits all approach.

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Deborah McLaughlin

Debby McLaughlin, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP, PSM-1 has extensive experience working in the software industry.  She has served in various roles including Business Analyst, Product Owner, Project Manager, Release Manager, Technical Product Manager and substitute Scrum Master. Her profile is available on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/demclaughlin/

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