So, you’re hiring new remote business analysis professionals. You’ve got problems to solve in your organization so getting them integrated into your organization quickly is essential. But how? In the first post in this series, I talked about the importance of building an on-boarding program specific to the work of the BA.
Where would I start in building this plan? Not by building a list of tools they will use or showing them where the process documentation is. I would focus on building a list of the people they will work directly and indirectly with and create a schedule of short introductions.
Business analysis is a relationship business.
So you must prepare your new remote Business Analysts to build relationships in your organization. This will them up for success in their role.
The focus of business analysis professionals is identifying the right problems to solve within an organization. Identifying the right problem is more than just asking a stakeholder “what’s your problem.” Often (very often, I might add) our stakeholders can’t articulate that problem however. They may describe symptoms. Perhaps they’ve envisioned the outcome they’d like to see (check out this post on Starting From Solutions: When a customer requests a solution). But these are not the problem to solve.
A seasoned business analysis professional has the skills to draw out information from stakeholders and others that can help identify the true problem to solve. Drawing out that information doesn’t happen by “getting down to business” and asking questions. It often happens through skillfully-led conversations. Notice I’m not saying skillfully led “requirements elicitation sessions” or “facilitating workshops.” These are formal mechanisms that can be used after problem identification to start working towards solutions.
While problem identification is underway, discussions, conversations and informal chats are a great way to uncover information that may not be commonly available. So how can we have conversations that result in such discoveries?
By creating authentic relationships with stakeholders and others in the organization.
If you’ve worked in an organization for a number of years, you may know a lot of people. You’ve worked on projects with them. Talked with them at company events. Know them through mutual colleagues. You’ve been networking internally!
Have you spent time cultivating these relationships? Networking internally in your company not only builds your professional network but also leads to conversations that give you new perspectives on other parts of your organization. That knowledge can be a differentiator in the business analysis work you do. You will already have people you can call on for assistance.
By cultivating I mean growing those relationships socially, without an end goal in mind. Creating these kinds of relationships can lead to friendships which enhance our work life.
Make sure your on-boarding program assists your new business analysis professional with internal networking as well. Include short, virtual introductions with key stakeholders first. Schedule them on behalf of the new BA.
As the business analyst begins working on projects or participating in social events in your company, encourage them to schedule other virtual meet and greets. Bring up internal networking as part of your 1:1 plan and be willing to listen to the new BA talk about the new people they’ve met!
Relationship building requires trust
The key to building relationships is trust. We build trust by being:
- honest and authentic in our communications,
- doing what we say are going to do,
- confidential and respectful when someone is sharing sensitive information with us, and
- genuinely focused on contributing to the relationship rather than focusing on what you can get out of the relationship
These components are part of the trust equation described in The Trusted Advisor. I recommend this book (and there are several books and workbooks in this series) as part of your business analysis development program, in addition to your remote business analyst on-boarding.
You must talk about the importance of these elements but to be most effective these elements must be modeled and practiced regularly. Build time into your on-boarding program to discussing the importance of building trust and how this leads to better business analysis outcomes.