As a business analyst working on the operations side of the house, I often have to translate between the developers who make the fancy stuff
1. Understand enough about your topic from a technical standpoint to talk about it.
- That doesn’t mean that you have to understand the ins and outs of any given programming language. But you have to understand that when your developer says “point A goes to point A.1 goes to point A.2 goes to point A.3 goes to point B”, what he or she is really saying is that point A goes to point B. That is what your end users need to hear. All the steps in between are exciting and necessary but superfluous to almost all of your end users.
- Leave the jargon out of conversation with your end users: give it to them in the plainest language you can muster. As I have told a colleague – you will feel like you’re over-explaining, but you need to over-explain in order to explain.
2. Don’t forget about the business.
- Your end users’ demands might seem wildly unreasonable. Listen with the end goal of understanding, not necessarily solving. Listening comes first – solving will come later. Your ears need to be in tune to what is really going on with the business. Are they facing a difficult customer, or a project that is in trouble? When they say something is a red-hot emergency, they might not be exaggerating even though it’s the fifth red-hot emergency this week. At the end of the day, the business needs to continue, and you will prove invaluable to your end users if you can meet their ever-changing needs.
- Your end users are your customers. Bottom line. Treat them as well as your company treats their external customers.