Great business analysis helps people to do great things.
No matter what problem is being tackled, or what the goal is, good outcomes are created by taking a iterative, people-centric approach, to getting the right things done.
There are three parts to our approach: Think clearly (analyse), share knowledge and insights (connect), and get stuff done (do). Let’s dig in:
All good outcomes begin here. To analyse—to examine carefully and comprehend fully—is the fundamental value-add of all business analysis. Many of the Jimmy Methods focus on analysis for this reason.
- Begin by defining the problem. No analysis can, or should, start without a clear understanding of what the work is trying to achieve, or what questions it is attempting to answer.
- More brains are typically better than one! Favour collaborative discussions and workshops with experts over working alone. It is harder—because it means managing lots of information, feedback, and opinions—but the outputs are better.
- Share work in progress. Make analysis visible and tangible by being open about analytical methods and techniques. Stakeholders will have greater buy-in if they can see and understand the process—even if it is messy. Sharing work in progress enables earlier feedback, and minimises the likelihood of rework.
- Stop analysing as soon as possible. Decompose iteratively; do only enough thinking to get to the next step. The aim is to solve the problem, not to develop a thesis.
The ability to share understanding and put that knowledge to use is the sign of a good business analyst. And connecting is how we do this.
Connecting puts people—our stakeholders, clients, team members, and customers—at the heart of business analysis. At its most powerful, connecting is a special kind of facilitation that leverages the deep knowledge a BA has built of the problem space. This enables truly informed decision making by stakeholders.
- Advocate for expert voices. Avoid talking for the experts. Aim to include the right experts in the conversation and support them with framing and context.
- Make it easy. Help stakeholders to understand by tailoring materials to the audience. Senior executives will need an entirely different briefing than one you’d provide to a developer. What is the most important thing that they need to understand? Start there.
- Welcome all voices and input. Look for ways to include diverse perspectives and opinions in discussions. Welcome all feedback, especially when challenging or hard to hear, as this feedback is often the most insightful (see also: share work in progress).
- Communicate consciously. Clearly differentiate between facts, opinions, theories, and thinking out loud.
- Do the heavy (mental) lifting. Don’t force stakeholders to adopt whole new modes of thinking about their world. Where possible, adapt constructs and frameworks to fit them. At a minimum, translate for them.
- Facilitate decisions. Ultimately, the aim is to get to actionable next steps. Bring conversations back to the decision.
Neither shared understanding nor a clear path forward is anyone’s true end goal. Outcomes only happen as a result of action. The best business analysts are those who get stuff done.
Implementing solutions is the ultimate test of analysis—until this point, it is merely theory and talk. Doing requires the BA to focus continually on what is truly important and to operate in the details while maintaining the connection between the minutiae and the end goals.
- Focus on the facts. Validate current understanding continually. Remain open to new information, even at the last minute and pivot back to connecting (or even analysis) if the situation has changed. The sooner a problem is surfaced, the sooner it can be solved.
- Be helpful. Ask “What’s next?” and “How can I help?” If doing a bit of team admin helps get to an outcome… well, admin never hurt anyone, right?
- Be strategic. Take care of the urgent and important things first, but conserve effort to tackle the not-so-urgent but important things as well. These are the things that drive real value in the longer term.