Show Your Value: Get Paid on Commission

Kupe’s Korner

I recently re-read an article on CIO.com, Should IT Workers Unionize. The author put forward the notion of IT workers unionizing.  There were many comments left by readers for and against the model. The idea of BAs unionizing is a concept that I found fascinating, but one that I totally disagree with.

This article reminded me of a conversation I had with a good friend, David Walker, with Borland.  He asked me if I thought business analysts would do anything different if their salaries were truly based on performance, A.K.A. commission based.  This is the complete opposite of unionizing. At the time I did not give him an answer, but now I believe we would absolutely change the way we approach projects, determine what techniques to use, and how spend our time every day. Projects are still failing or challenged at a high percentage.  As analysts we play a critical role in the success of projects.  If we really want to improve project success, let’s get paid on the success of our projects.  Are you feeling the wave of change? 

Let’s take a look at the sales profession for a moment. They sell products or services for a company and most of their salary is based on how well they perform against sales goals.  They miss their goal, their commission is less; they meet their goal they get their full commission, if they exceed their goal they get their full commission plus some.  So as a BA we play a key role on teams to implement projects or change for a company.  If your project fails your commission is less, if it is challenged you get most of your commission, if it is a success you get your full commission.  Man…I am getting excited just thinking about it. 

Ok, even if we don’t go the point of changing our salary structure we need to change our mindset and work like we are being paid on commission.

Here are a few characteristics of successful sales professionals that we can apply to our profession.  A successful sales person:

  • Ensures their goals are clear. Once they are set they work towards their goal every day.
  • Does what is necessary. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Finds resources that can help them reach their goals.
  • Builds relationships to build credibility which leads to trust.

Goals: Before you start running down a path to elicit, analyze, and communicate requirements, make sure you, the project team, and business stakeholders are all on the same page regarding the scope and objectives of the project.  As the project is underway you should always look at the goals to make sure you are still headed down the right path.

Do what is necessary:  As an analyst there are many techniques at our disposal.  Just read the 300 plus page IIBA BABOK and you’ll see how many techniques we can use. Every project is different, so you need to do the work that will add value to your project.  Nothing more, nothing less.  For more information on this topic check out this webcast.

Find resources:  If you recall my last blog post, I talked about being the go-to person.  I said you need to be a consumer of information. There are so many resources (people, training classes, articles, discussion boards, etc.) available to you, and you need to find them and use them to be successful.  Here is a quote that I continually reference. 

“No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.”
-Brian Tracy, Author

In today’s environment we can’t go it alone.  Find the information and people you need to help you.  There is no shame in asking for help.

Build relationships:  Projects are all about people.  We work on projects with people and projects are created for people.  People want to work and help those they trust.  Take the time to really get to know the people you work with. 

Let’s not wait until we are paid on commission to change the way we work.  If we change our mindset now our project success rate will start to improve.  Things will be so good we’ll ask to be paid on commission!

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