Stop Calling Yourself the Bridge
I just returned home for BA World Dallas and had some great conversations, including some during my presentations. During my Business Analysis is Dead, Long Live Business Analysis talk, which is based on my blog of the same name, I was discussing how I see the Business Analyst space changing. The old way of doing business analysis is dead, the new way is alive and well, just different. I asked the attendees how they see their role and a response I received was “We are the bridge between the business and IT.” With a booming voice, helped out by the microphone I had, I yelled “WRONG!” To the responder’s defense, I understood what he was saying…I just used it as an entry point to my make my case. And now, here is my case!
You can’t see yourself as the bridge anymore. Being a bridge is inefficient and less value add to the team. If you get a chance to see Jeffrey Davidson talk he does a great “skit” on being a bridge showing how long it takes to get information over the bridge and all the things that are lost in translation. It’s hilarious and makes the point! Think about a bridge in a major city. What happens when everyone is trying to get over the bridge at once…bottleneck. What happens when the bridge is closed for repairs…bottleneck. What happens when a New Jersey Governor’s office shuts down access to the bridge…let’s not go there! Do you get the point?!
You need to see your role as a facilitator, an analyzer, and an advisor. Listening to a radio talk show host explain the difference in media today vs. the past is a great analogy to how I view the present and past of business analysis. The talk show host said the role of media in the past was to provide information. That’s why everyone rushed home to hear the 6 O’clock news. Today, information is flying to our computers, tablets and phones as it is happening. So there is not much use for a radio talk show host, other than breaking news, to provide just the information. Now they have to analyze situations and provide opinions on what is happening. And if you don’t, the consumers will be looking to someone else.
This is exactly how I feel about you. You no longer have to focus as much on the information gathering and sharing or simply being called the bridge. You need to focus on the analyzing and being an advisor to your team and organization. If not, your consumers will be looking to someone else. Here are three things you can be doing instead of acting as the bridge and only bridge.
- Allow others to play in the BA space. If others can elicit information, let them. Act as a coach for your team to help them determine what questions to ask, give them guidance on different elicitation techniques to use. If you are having an elicitation session, bring your developer and QA analyst along for the ride. They can hear things first hand, ask the questions they have, and see how you run a session.
- Focus more time on analyzing. Let the information come in however it comes in and use your analytical skills to determine what the real needs are, what additional information may be needed to fill the holes, see how your project is impacting other projects, and think about the challenges of rolling out the new system or enhancements. You have plenty to do other than being the bridge carrying information.
- Be an advisor. You need to be part of the discussion around the solution. Early in my career the view of the BA role was to just focus on the requirements, not the solution. There were BAs that would cringe when discussions of a solution were happening before the requirements were fully vetted. Discussing the solution should be part of your role. Your team and business partners are not looking for analysis, they need solutions. If you are not part of the solution the perception is you add less value. Do you want a financial analyst to just tell you there is no way you’ll have enough money to retire, or to tell you there won’t be enough money to retire and here is what you need to do to have enough money to retire? You want an advisor, not just an analyst. Your business partners want an advisor which includes analysis of the situation and designing solutions.
Once you adopt the mindset of not just being the bridge you can open your mind to focus on what is valuable. There was a time, the bridge was needed. That just is not the case anymore. There may be times you need to be the bridge. You just do not need to be the bridge full time. Be a facilitator, analyzer, and advisor.
All the best,
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