The Wild Card Identity of Business Analysis
What is your title? Is it the same as your professional identity?
The flexibility of Business Analyst roles tend to vary from organization to organization. It is nothing new that Business Analysts tend to wear many hats. Often, when transitioning from a place of expertise in varying industry roles, Business Analysts are given advice to be open to the many organizational directions. Acrobatics become one of the first training lessons, as Business Analysts navigate dynamics, priorities, relationships and cross-team goals.
It is no wonder that Business Analysis is related to a “wild card” role.
The many titles and hats that Business Analysts wear can be confusing when navigating conflicting interests and priorities within an organization. Loyalty and personal history can be a topic of question, especially if the Business Analyst’s professional history has been deep-rooted in a previous specific area.
Breaking down assumptions and supporting reinvention becomes part of personal branding and professional identity. This can be dangerous when eliciting requirements, as stakeholders may have preconceived notions or implicit bias on your approach from misplaced assumptions or even your time in previous departments.
How does one find neutrality in a world that yearns for categorization?
Analyst or Influencer?
Does your organization see you as an analyst or an influencer?
If you can flex your true “wild card” self, you may demonstrate the abilities as both, and be known as a truly effective catalyst of change.
In a professional landscape drenched in the demand of professional project management, where does the Business Analyst exist? The answer is everywhere, and anywhere!
Business Analysts in many cases have varying degrees of responsibility, leadership and influence. They may be the leaders of your initiative, gather requirements, specify requirements, train, implement or coordinate your most pertinent projects. In true wild card form though, they must be strategically included and value-considered. Including them early on and then not continuously can lead to confused team direction, responsibility and coordination. Alternatively, not including them until the very end can limit their involvement in helping to attain the optimal design option and execution.
Words from a Wise Captain – Engage!
Approaches to stakeholder engagement can blaze the path to define personal approaches. Personal connections can either limit or leverage your style. Be conscious of your conduct, influence and personal promotions in your organization, as they very much set the tone for where stakeholders suspect your personal interest may rest.
If you do not have a professional network that offers a mutually-beneficial environment, create one. This should be transactional in nature and offer an exchange of ideas, priorities, interests and concerns. These stakeholders are important to your own expertise and context, as you place yourself within projects, focus and organizational priorities.
That is not to say that the only valuable stakeholder is one with high influence. Listening to stakeholders that shoulder the day-to-day of operations can offer valuable insight to where initiatives involving efficiencies are best directed. When considering benchmarking efforts, listen to these voices that offer specifics, knowing that your own interest tends to consider that devil in the details!
Utilizing efficiency in Business Analysis means accepting the varying contributions they bring to the table. If your organization does not specify the title of “Business Analyst”, consider those that carry the torch to provide the same function – they could be right outside your office door, already leading a herd of stakeholders that support your initiative.
If they do exist in title, consider the careful approaches they take to analyze impacts and create win/win scenarios. These are not easy positions or conversations, and the approach to effective change could exist within a current working and well-developed camouflage! Bridging worlds means understanding them, and Business Analysts have some of the best tools to construct those avenues of travel across dynamic professional worlds.
Break the Mold – Make your own Prototype
Professional development is quick to encourage the creation of up-and-comers for already-defined positions and identities. Do not be discouraged when someone asks you what the next step is and you have trouble articulating it in title but not description. If you can describe what you strive for, you are feeding your professional identity and development. Find a way to incorporate your own model within an existing title with a brand new approach. Forging new paths forward is the very root of innovation. The BABOK even self-defines as a “guide”. Standards do not require narrow lines of the same method. In essence, there is no single formula – and creativity and change often thrive without those restrictions.
Deploying the Wild Card
In a world with a revolving door-appetite of titles and qualifications, it is always useful to regularly scan your environment for your biggest agents of victory.
You may already be holding the best card in the deck.