Something we often hear from other BAs working in multi-disciplinary Agile teams is that their work sometimes seems invisible. Or at least, less visible when compared to other professions. To put that in context, UX folk may likely be mocking up various designs that they develop and share iteratively. Devs regularly build and release new code that you can touch and feel through using it. Content designers produce content that features in the product or service.
However, as BAs, especially in an Agile environment it can be difficult to see similar types of tangible output. Of course, you’ll have probably been involved in defining various backlog items and likely some modelling of the business or its processes, as well as facilitating numerous workshops to find out information. But these individually maybe aren’t as ‘visible’ or as tangible to many in the same way as when compared to some of the outputs from other professions.
This is where it can be useful to take a step back to think about our role. The primary responsibilities of Business Analysts aren’t to create designs, content, or code. Very briefly, we’re there to understand how things work, work out the gaps, break down complexity, align initiatives to wider organisational goals and help articulate a clear specification of what needs to be done. Ultimately this enables decisions to be made, challenges thinking, and helps solve problems. These collectively, enable value to be created, as well as being the basis for many other professions to create their stuff.
So, what can you do to make our work less invisible and more visible? Luckily quite a lot, here are some suggestions on how we can shine the spotlight more on what we do;
- Shout about your successes in retros — for example, talk about how your work enabled a particularly important decision to be made or how modeling a specific part of the business has identified something no one in the team was aware of before. Maybe add the impact of not finding this out.
- Show and tells, town halls, basically anywhere you’re showing the work you’ve done as a team in an open forum — if you’re currently in a Discovery or Alpha phase it could be sharing what you have discovered and what that has enabled, or if you’re in Beta, it could be mentioned that through undertaking something like root cause analysis has helped to find a solution to a specific problem.
- Introduce a BA Service Definition —that helps to articulate the value of business analysis as a set of services in the context of your organisation, or as we like to call it “setting your stall out”. If you’re not familiar with the BA Service Framework, I’d strongly recommend checking out the BCS publication ‘Delivering Business Analysis: The BA Service Handbook’ by Debra Paul and Christina Lovelock. It’s also a topic that I had the pleasure of joining a BA Brew podcast episode with Debra Paul and Mike Williams to talk about, as well as doing a few talks and articles on.
- Work in the open (where possible)— if you’re in the office, this could be just placing analysis outputs on walls in your huddle spaces, or if you’re using collaboration tools such as Miro or Lucid — then make sure they’re open for all those in your team to see. Encourage comments and conversation about them, and don’t worry about them being perfect.
- Talk about tasks with a clear mention of why you’re doing it— whether you’re using post-its on a Kanban board, putting tickets on Trello, or just talking it through in a stand-up. Be clear on the task you’re doing and the purpose behind it. For example, ‘understanding X piece of legislation so that we design and deliver a compliant service’, is significantly clearer than just saying ‘doing research’.
- Write blogs and articles — if you can, and time allows, get in the habit of sharing successes of how business analysis has helped to reach a consensus or challenged thinking on a particularly complex topic. Maybe it’s solved an important problem for your users. Whatever it is, look to use the appropriate medium to tell your story. This may mean publishing an article on an internal space such as an Intranet, or if the subject allows, publishing an external blog.
Thanks for reading, let us know your thoughts by getting in touch or adding them to our post on LinkedIn. It would be great to hear if you use any of the approaches above and how you find them, whether you’ve been using them for a while or if it’s something new you’ve tried after reading this article. Similarly, please share if you have found any other effective ways to make your work ‘more visible’, that isn’t listed above.
🖊️ Authored by: Jamie Toyne, Founder & CEO at Herd Consulting
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