I have had the opportunity to establish BA practice within an organization a few times. After first time doing BA practice establishment, I have summarized a toolkit for myself, which in turn helped me setting up BA practice more consistently and effectively. If you are looking to set up your own BA practice, regardless of the organization that you work at, I believe you can benefit from this industry-agnostic BA Practice framework.
Element 1: Streamlined Onboarding
Well began is half done. Onboarding starts when offer is accepted. Trigger IT equipment and system access provision process as early as practical. Consider including any additional productivity equipment, such an as additional monitor, in the IT equipment provision.
The week before new joiner commencement, give them a call to understand their need, questions or concerns regarding onboarding. A phone call, although old-school, will give the new employee a good human-to-human style start. On or prior to day 1, send out all business unit wide email to announce the new starter.
Schedule one-on-one “causal catch up” at the start time on day 1, and project introduction meetings right after, to make new starter feel welcome and cared into new environment.
Make sure you do everything above in a remote-friendly way. Remote working is here to stay.
Element 2: 90-Days Action Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Planning is always the best quality assurance. Set up a 90-day plan with the employee and you both stick to it. Focus on both performance and professional development. Regularly review progress with your new starter.
Element 3: Scheduled Communications
“A manager in need is a manager indeed.” (by Lawrence Dong). To avoid the situation that you are too busy to attend to your employees’ needs, schedule communications in advance so that you will have time for this important matter. Apart from the performance review conversations, the most obvious communications opportunities include:
- Manager/Employee 1:1
- Regular team meetings
Set them up in an appropriate and recurring way.
Element 4: BA Skill Matrix and Career Levelling
Business Analyst, like most other jobs, can and should be measured at work. For all the right reasons, it is critical to provide a fair and equal path to everyone. In order to give a chance to everyone’s career progression, it is fundamental for the manager to acknowledge the existence of different career levels and skill levels among their employees.
An example of career levelling could be:
- Junior BA
- Intermediate BA
- Senior BA
- Lead BA
And an example of skill matrix could be:
- Requirements gathering (1 out of 3)
- Process mapping (2 out of 3)
- Stakeholder management (3 out of 3)
It is worthwhile to mention that the entry criteria of a particular career level may consist of more than skills and deliverables. Behaviors and collaboration are equally important, if not more.
Element 5: Templates and Processes
Consistency is key to high quality customer experience. With BA templates and processes put in place, effectively there is less room for confusion in “what should be delivered and how”. Just make them easily accessible to the team.
Element 6: BA Services Catalogue
Business analysis work is sometimes dynamic and self-evolving. From a SDLC perspective, BA’s may benefit more than other from a well-defined BA Services Catalogue, whenever there are questions about the boundary of their roles and responsibilities.
Element 7: Knowledge Sharing
Sharing is caring. A regular knowledge sharing forum is a great addition to the regular team meetings, where team members can have the podium and be empowered. When a team member feels empowered, they will be more creative, and everyone involved will feel the positive chemistry.
Element 8: Coaching and Mentoring
“Coaching” and “mentoring” look similar, but a lot of people understand the obvious difference. Coaching is quite performance driven and short-term based, while mentoring is more development driven and long-term aimed. What’s subtle is that mentoring requires a none conflict of interest communication, which means people managers are least appropriate mentors to their direct reports. However, a great support people managers can to is to encourage and even help their employees find a good mentor.
Element 9: Training and Education
It is somehow a “moral contract” between permanent employees (and the likes) and the employer that training and education will be made available when and if required.
Therefore, it is the manager’s role to identify the required training and education opportunities that will strengthen the skills of individual employees.
I hope you have got some inspirations now to use the industry-agnostic BA Practice framework to guide your future team and capability management. If you demonstrate commitment to your employees by building a mutually beneficial BA Practice, consistency will be created, and employee engagement will be elevated. Win-win.