Author: Elizabeth McKellar

I Am Not David Blaine

“Hello. I am not David Blaine. Nor am I Penn and Teller or Miss Cleo. I am a Business Analyst, and I am here to ask questions and get to better understanding of your business and needs. I am not here to read your minds or predict your requirement changes 72 months from now.”

Do you ever feel the need to start conversations off like this with your business partners? I feel that way all the time. And I certainly do not think I am alone in that feeling.

Like anyone else, business partners tend to be completely caught-up in their own world. They know their business like, well, the back of their hand. Skipping steps, information or needs that should be a factor in future design or program functionality happens and it is not done on purpose by any means. This is just a side effect of knowing an area so well and forgetting that outsiders do not have the same tribal knowledge. Remember, often times, Business Analysts are brought in to work on a singular project and business owners often have multiple projects going on at once. What might be majority of a Business Analyst work may be a tiny part of the business partner’s day. This is true of any industry and any methodology. Being Agile or Waterfall or Kanban is not a free pass on experiencing these pains.

Is there a way to avoid this situation? The short and true answer is NO; requirements will be missed and you will not find out every possible detail of their job that you should probably be aware of. Unless you are in fact a magician with telepathic powers. If that is the case, then please set-up a conference and teach us all your skills! So how can Business Analyst work to combat this inevitable situation? Among the many different tips or tricks, below are the three most common.

Job Shadowing

One way to overcome this is to job shadow your business partners. Not just speaking with the SME (Subject Matter Expert). Sit down with the actual business end user of the software or program. Who uses the application every day? Who would notice a change the most? Sitting down with the SME’s is critical and should never, ever be overlooked. But often times, our conversations tend to stop with the SME’s and leadership. Take a few hours at the beginning of the project and get into the weeds and get the perspective and opinions of the end users. I ask to be tr