I went to school to be a film director. I’m not sure what kind of job I thought I might get with that education. I certainly didn’t pursue that path professionally. Instead, my interest in design and solving problems lead me to an IT career.
Most of the business analysts I’ve met also didn’t start out to become analysts. Yet, through a combination of skills, talents and weird luck, we found ourselves changing the world one project at a time. I believe there are a core mix of skills that make those of us who choose this path successful. And I think it is more than just “communication, negotiation and listening blah blah blah.” Instead there is another level of skills that make us successful in this strange, new remote world we find ourselves in.
Business analysts cannot be successful if they can’t organize the information they are collecting. They just can’t. That’s why this is at the top of my list.
I don’t equate “organization” with having a clean desk (mine is terrible). Organization is an important component of communication. An organized analyst can take information and structure it in a way that is easy for their audience to interpret.
You must be able to accept feedback if you want to grow, learn and advance. Being coachable is the single-most telling skill that will indicate how far a BA can advance in her career.
But in my opinion the same attitudes that make you coachable also make you a good business analysis. The qualities of being open-minded and willing to learn, essential to accepting and incorporate feedback, are the foundation of being coachable. If you can’t accept feedback, can’t learn from the experience of others, you’ll only get so far in a project and in life.
Curiosity is the basis for the start of every project inquiry. A curious analyst is one that wants to explore the topic being discussed and can dive into any topic fearlessly. It may mean taking the role of the novice while learning from your stakeholders. Or, exploring topics that scare you to death! The curious business analyst dives in with gusto to learn and that’s just an average day for the curious business analyst.
Call it agile (lower case “a”) or creative or an optimistic-mindset. A day in the life of a BA is never boring. We might be facilitating a stakeholder meeting in the morning and solving big, strategic problems in the afternoon. One thing is for sure – anything is possible at any time. Analysts with a flexible mindset are open to possibilities and don’t let obstacles get in the way. They can find an alternate path or plan a different approach with ease.
Remote business analysts have the ability to assess the situation, develop a plan and implement it without much intervention from their leaders. The self-motivated analyst is also compelled to take action to grow and clear their own obstacles. They are driven to identify tasks and complete them. As the BA becomes more experienced, that desire to achieve becomes more critical to her success as experienced BAs not only define their work but also that of others who participate in business analysis activities.
In the new world of remote work, there are any number of bumps and misfires. Technology that misbehaves when you’re performing an important task. A tool that stops functioning as you are leading a meeting. Rowdy or disengaged attendees in your virtual meeting. Being unflappable means that you can calmly take control of the situation and lead it to an acceptable outcome. Unflappable analysts personify the quote “never let ’em see you sweat.” They do this not only through their calm demeanors but their ability to be seen as an authority figure that is able to take charge in any situation.