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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Some thoughts on BA goals

I just received a series of questions from a number of different beginning business analysts. I thought it would be good to share some of their concerns and my responses to them. Feel free to send along your questions. I enjoy responding and helping out. One new business analyst / project manager is required by his company to establish goals for himself and his project and he sent along his goals to see what I thought of them. The first several related to the project itself and were more in the line of a series of goals that, when achieved, would get the project in a good standing. The last one stated: • Use critical thinking skills to gather information and negotiate with sponsoring unit This goal came from some previous correspondence in which I recommended enhancing his critical thinking capabilities to be more successful as a BA. (More on that in a future blog). Here is my response: "This statement is good and in alignment with general business analysis tenets and good practices. However, it states a continuing effort rather than something to be achieved. For example you might write the following goals: "1. Gather enough information from the sponsoring units to make good project decisions "2. Negotiate with sponsoring units (instead of automatically agreeing to specifications of time or resources) Now your plan to achieve these two goals might include "Ask at least three questions for each directive the sponsoring unit gives me. "Suggest at least one alternative approach or solution to each directive the sponsoring unit gives me. "This exercise forces you to think critically about all your interactions with the sponsoring unit. You may decide on a political basis not to actually voice the question or alternative solutions. However, even if you do the exercise on your own back in your office, you will be building your critical thinking powers so that the questions will begin to come naturally to you." It is not enough just to have goals. Once you establish the goals you need to devise a plan for achieving them. That plan could be a simple improvement or change in the way you are doing things that gets you closer to the goal as I suggested above. or it could be a step by step approach to achieving the goal. Either way, without a plan to achieve the goal, the goal sits like a target in a shooting gallery and you do not have a weapon.