Let’s get personal!

The 3 skills and knowledge domains a Business Analyst requires to effectively add value is well versed and well documented; they need a degree of Technical Knowledge, Business Knowledge and Interpersonal Skills. Although most industry reports and literature focus on the two former items in the list, the latter is certainly not emphasized enough, and often ignored. Working in a high release-to-market company adopting an Agile and Iterative development methodology, the power great relationships hold has become truly evident. That is why I have adopted a “Get Personal” approach to conducting business activities.

Now, by “Getting Personal”, I do not mean getting intricately involved in your dear colleague’s personal life, aiming to obtain details about the status of their marriage, how their kids are doing in their tests, or if Sharon’s new beau has a history of bad debt. What I mean by getting personal is taking on the task to better form relationships with your colleagues, making active efforts to increase your EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and to learn how to better communicate, especially in terms of active listening.

It is well known that the IT industry is rather ruthless and cutthroat, where the hardest working and most productive companies come out on top. The IT professional is not your average 8 to 5 worker. The working hours possess a high variance, with a mean working day of approximately 9 to 10 hours. What this means is that you’re going to spend a lot of time with your colleagues and interact with them at an effusive rate. So, having greater interpersonal relationships can only be beneficial.

As a Business Analyst, you also require a lot of information from various people during the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). The SDLC is a framework which defines the various tasks and activities carried out in each stage of the software development process. It chiefly acts as a guide, ensuring that the development process, from planning, to developing, to testing, to releasing and maintaining is done in the most optimal and efficient manner.

From Planning (working with the Project Management Team), to Defining Requirements and Gathering Detailed Information, to Designing System Components and Building the solution (working with Developers, System Analysts and Architects), to Testing the built solution (working with Quality Assurance) to finally deploying the solution to the Production Environment (working with DevOps). Looking at the aforementioned process, it is concretely apparent that the BA will have a high interaction with the various team members and departments. It is therefore a necessity to have interpersonal and communication skills to ensure that the development process is carried out correctly, that operational feedback is heard and acted upon, and that all stakeholders are up-to-date with the latest developments and decisions. Also, making friends never hurt anybody.

Although the this sounds easy to some, and to others rather horrible and frightening, here are a few easy and effective ways in which you can form better relationships with your colleagues:

1 – Be consistently courteous.

2 – Be an effective listener. Acknowledging and accurately processing what other people say is essential in achieving effective listening. Show your colleagues you are invested in the conversation, respond when required and resolve any uncertainties that pop up.

3 – Be welcoming. When approached by colleagues, be sure to engage and make time for them. Showing a willingness to help and act upon queries establishes trust and builds a solid foundation for a good relationship.

4 – Always follow up when necessary. This isn’t restricted to work-related issues, either.

5 – Be kind, friendly, and an all-round good person. Nobody likes or gets on well with a scrooge, while almost everyone loves a good human being.

Other habits and traits that can be learnt:

1 – Be humorous and charming, but don’t try to be a Casanova!

2 – Be open, but frank.

3 – Be interested in your colleagues’ life, but don’t be nosy.

4 – Relate to their issues.

5 – Communicate about more than just work-related issues.

Sure, each person will have their own approach to forming and building relationships with people. As Business Analysts, we need to make an active effort in ensuring that good relationships are established and maintained, without creating the feeling of being insincere and impersonal. It will undoubtedly have a great impact on how well you are able to complete the desired requirements and system features. So, take it on: “Get Personal!”