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The Disruptive Business Analyst

Disrupt. By definition disrupt means “to prevent something, especially a system, process, or event, from continuing as usual or as expected.

To throw into confusion, throw into disorder, throw into disarray, cause confusion/turmoil in, play havoc with.”

From a technology perspective, it refers to “any enhanced or completely new technology that replaces and disrupts an existing technology, rendering it obsolete. It is designed to succeed similar technology that is already in use. Disruptive technology applies to hardware, software, networks and combined technologies.”

So, what about the disruptive business analyst? I work mostly with tech projects so for me the disruptive business analyst is working with what we used to call bleeding edge technology on new projects for anxiously awaiting project clients leading tech teams on exciting and sometimes dangerous new project adventures. End users and subject matter experts are awaiting a nearly ready solution during user acceptance testing (UAT) and at implementation rollout to the end user community with this creative solution. Hopefully the tech team… and the business analyst… along with the project manager have provided a workable solution that meets their requirements dead on. This can be difficult, of course, anytime you’re moving to a new technology that you’ve not worked with before, the project team hasn’t worked with before, the client has never likely seen or used it before, and that may not have been implemented in the client’s type of industry before. You’re on the edge… you’re going where no one has gone before (well, with that customer in that industry anyway…).

Stay abreast of new technologies

Since the business analyst is usually at least the liaison between the tech team and the project manager on a technical project – and is sometimes even the co-lead or sole lead of the project – then it is obviously critical that he remain relevant and current of ongoing tech trends and new technology. Through regular training, reading and research, this is easy to do and in terms of products, technology and security, conferences and the exhibit rooms at these conferences are a great way to get first hand face to face knowledge and deep dive information from the individuals creating and introducing this technology. Conferences like CES (Consumer Electronics Show), Interop and Black Hat will have briefings, demonstrations and training available for attendees and they can be fascinating ways to enhance your knowledge level.


Ensure the right team assembled for the tech implementation

A new technology is being used on our high-tech solution for the project client. Is our project team up for the challenge? Is the learning curve reasonable or do we need part time or full-time consulting or new resources on the project? That initial assessment must be made or at least assisted by the business analyst. And this determination needs to be made – and not lightly – as close to the kickoff of a new project as possible so as not to result in a timeframe extension, budget overrun and big, long learning curve for newly on boarded project resources.

Oversee customer training and education on the tech solution and the technology used

The project manager works closely with the customer throughout the engagement. There is no question about that. But on many tech projects the business analyst works even closer and for extended periods of time. On one of my projects, the customer wanted a change order to have the business analyst work full time onsite for the remainder of the project resulting in a $100k+ change order with a high profit margin added to the project. I was happy to oblige, of course. Especially in cases like this one, the business analyst is going to have the best feel for the customer’s ability to understand and eventually take over a new high-tech solution. Should education and training take place? Often the answer is yes. Yet another change order revenue opportunity! Win-win. This is an area where the business analyst will usually need to play point on – be aware.

Ensure Cybersecurity measures are taken

While hackers know that organizations using legacy technology are the easiest target, most get more challenge and enjoyment from cracking new technology. If you are embarking on new tech adventures on your project, know that you may be a target, especially if you are handling any sensitive data with this new tech angle. So, know that if you’re utilizing bleeding edge technology, you are on the hackers’ radar – you are a likely target will need to take proper measures. It’s best to address this possibility early in the planning phases while assessing risks and the skill set needed for your project team.

Summary / call for input

Are you a disruptive business analyst? Most business analysts working with startups and large corporations entering new areas of delivery are going to be utilizing new and cutting-edge technology. The key is to be fully engaged, ensure the client understands – at least to some degree – the new technology and that you have the right talent designing and implementing the project solution. Oh, and that the end user community knows what they are getting. It never hurts to make sure that your project manager is on board with the same technical understanding. Project management is sometimes project management across all complexities and industries… but I’ve always felt that a technical background is critical to the tech project manager’s success in managing tech projects. Sounds logical – and it is logical. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve got the tech background myself, but I’ve seen many colleagues fail miserably on technical projects because of a lack of tech background and understanding.

Readers – what’s your take on this list and these areas of emphasis? What would you add to it or change about? Do you agree with it? Tell us about a project you played a key role on using new technology and how you managed issues and risks – if there were any – in the implementation. Was it smooth? A success? A failure? Let’s share and discuss.