In Part 1 of this post I shared 3 L’s in the remote Business Analyst’s set of on-boarding responsibilities. There’s one more responsibility. – and, thus, one more L – to cover.
First, A Story
Year ago, I was hired at a medium sized insurance company at the beginning of a system replacement project. There was no formal on-boarding program for business analysts. I received a list of the tools I would use along with my IDs and passwords. That was it. Most of my team and my manager were located in a different building on campus. My desk was located amongst the underwriters and product managers in the company. I wanted to be ready as soon as our project started and in the days before the work started, I wanted to learn as much as I could. I could’ve just sat and earned paycheck while I waited for the project. But that’s not my style.
First, I asked my manager to help me schedule short meetings with department leaders from across the company that I might be working with. I took an Insurance Basics course to learn about the products the company sold. The IT Support team let me do an internal internship with them for a few weeks to become familiar with the systems and customers they supported. Finally, when I had one-off business questions, I would roam the floor with a bag of candy and ask for some assistance. Eventually, business people sought me out because 1) I had candy and 2) they knew I was working on the new projects and they had questions for me!
The fourth L is “lead yourself.” As Business Analysts and, particularly as remote Business Analysts, we don’t always have someone closely directing our work. We must be motivated enough to identify tasks and create our own plan when no one has asked. Leadership skills, whether informal or formal, are a tool you must have in your essential skill toolkit.
My self-created program not only got me involved in the organization but enabled me to build relationships so I could get additional help as needed. More importantly, it demonstrated to my manager that I could work and learn independently. These things helped me to build a solid reputation within the company
How to Create Your Own On-Boarding Plan
On-boarding doesn’t have to be official, lengthy or scheduled. But it does need to prepare you for your work in the organization. If your new employer doesn’t have a program, start looking for ways you can learn your organization. Here are some questions to guide your preparation:
- Who will I work with? Schedule short introductory meetings with them. Ask if you can shadow their work or review some of their deliverables, if appropriate.
- What products and services does my company sell? Identify any internal training or materials that will help you learn more
- What tools and systems will I use to perform my work? Work with your Support team(s) to identify the tools and finding training available to you
- Where are the processes, procedures and documentation that support the work of the company? Talk with your manager or team members to locate these sources and create your plan to go through them
- What projects will be I part of? Arrange to meet members of the team. Learn about the status of their project. Review their documentation. Find out what’s next.
- What else do I need to know? Along the way, you’ll learn new things that will inspire you to learn more. Document those things and develop your plan to learn them.
Prioritize and Create a Schedule
You’ll learn a lot by asking these questions. Start your list and begin prioritizing it. Use a prioritization technique like MoSCoW to prioritize what you must, should, could or won’t need to know. Now, schedule your tasks Create a spreadsheet to track what you are doing and when so you can see your progress.
Finally, if you don’t have a 1:1 scheduled with your manager, make that part of your on-boarding program. Meeting regularly with your manager gives you the ability to share your progress and ask for assistance when you are stuck. This can also be a gentle nudge to your manager about the benefits of creating a formal on-boarding program.