Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User-centered Design

It is beyond doubt that the current times of digital, mobile and social age demand professionals who are versatile, agile, sociable and dynamic. Business Analysts and product specialists are no exception to this. Whether its due to the industry demands, peer pressure, market needs or pure evolutionary tactics, BAs today are far more leading-edge, competitive, assertive and visionary contributors to the products, processes and businesses, at large. From an also-ran team player role, new-age analysts have come a long way as the multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled and multi-dimensional professionals. In this post, I will touch upon the many facets of the new-age Business Analyst and how they are adapting to the continual changes happening in the spheres of business, technology, professional and personal lives.

Emergence of the new-age BA/PO

As we discussed in the previous posts, there have been several factors that led to the emergence and evolution of the Business Analyst. The BA today moved on from just a requirements owner and a document expert and is now addressing several facets around products, processes, business and technology. Their focus still remains pretty much around the problem space, compared to the facilitation role in the solution space. The analysts identify problems, dependencies, needs and opportunities. However,  products, processes and business domains. The BAs today have been involved in scoping, release management, continuous engagement with customers and users, strategising, laying out roadmap, and working with multiple teams.  In a nutshell, the Business Analyst of the modern age is much like a leader, architect, soldier, team player…all rolled into one.

NBA_Leader.Architect.Soldier.Team Player_Texavi

Leader, architect, soldier, team player & more – the new-age BA

From being an analyst, the BA needs to transform into a leader, architect, soldier, team player and perhaps many more such roles, all rolled into one. Of course, they need not be all of these roles at the same time. The analyst today has to don one, few or all of these various roles based on the context, time, stage of implementation as befits the occasion. During the initial stages, the emphasis could be on being an architect, while during the scoping it could be that of a soldier. However, throughout the project, or initiative analysts have to keep their hat of leader and team player, no matter what stage the work is in. I touch upon the four primary facets of the new-age Business Analyst in the following paragraphs.

1. Sensible leader, not just an also-ran

You can’t talk enough about the all-imperative skill and art of analysts to work with people. They must have their hands firmly on the pulse of the different categories of people. These include the various stakeholders – direct and indirectly responsible for the product and process, from senior management all the way through to people working on the factory floor. As an able leader, the analysts must not only lead the way, but also set an example by following and working along with the team members. They should  listen actively, take steps pro-actively and be able to put in their efforts with sustainable passion, drive and commitment to achieve this shared vision and common goals.

2. Architect and a builder, not just another player

New-age business analysts must be able to look beyond the near term goals and benefits. They must have a really good and long term vision to not only lead themselves but also the team members and the organisation, at large. They must think far and beyond, using their rich experience, in-depth and specialised domain expertise. The added advantage is that these help the analysts with a “peripheral vision” around the markets, business domains, products, processes and technologies.  Besides, the new-age analyst adds great value by laying a robust roadmap that is flexible, scalable, high-performing.

3. A soldier, well-equipped and prepared

Like a soldier, who is well-equipped and well-prepared to face any kind of challenges, the new-age analyst must be prepared with all the right tools, methods and a positive attitude. The very nature and aptitude of business analysts help them to stay on the top of their game, be it at home or outside their turf. Their ability to adapt easily and quickly depending on the situation helps build on to the agility of the new-age analysts.  Analysts’ skills of being sensitive, scrupulous and open-minded, help them usable insights from ideas and actionable intelligence from information. In addition to these, the BAs try to keep ahead by addressing all possible scenarios, potential challenges and constraints, internal and external dependencies and assumptions – stated and implicit.

4. Team player, not just a one-person show

Business analysts over the ages had been looked at more as specialised consultants who come in, do their work and get out. The contribution of analysts is considered from the prism of a “support” role who comes in early in the project, find problems, specify scope and requirements and exits the scenario. However, with the advent of agile practices such as Scrum, user stories, XP, BDD and TDD being put in place, organisations are increasingly looking for analysts to be well-integrated into the development teams. The analysts today are very much an integral part of the teams and by being  participative, they contribute to the collective value delivered by the team. So, new-age analysts are equally adept at being followers and team members themselves as much as they excel at leading the teams.

I hope this post helped you understand the many dimensions, skills and demands of the new-age business analyst. We will cover more specific details on the tools, and methods for the business analyst/product owner in the upcoming posts, until then, ciao!

Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Social business, User Experience

Disrupt, hack, fail and lean…in case you are wondering what these are, they are the latest buzzwords in the technology industry today. No more terms with a negative tone or tinge, these once swear words are now the tech world’s definitive words to swear by. They have taken the world by storm, so no wonder businesses and individuals alike are encouraged to embrace them strongly. Rightly so, in an age of digital, mobile, agile and social times that we are living in, technology does have a profound impact on businesses and people. Change is the only constant thing, and entrepreneurship and innovation are sure ways for survival and success. In this blogpost, in a run-up to Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA,2013 conference, I will touch upon how embracing the mean and lean aspects like disruption,”fail-early-fail-often”, hacker way and being lean will separate the winners from players.

1. What are you disrupting today

Look around you and you will find disruption as the mantra behind every successful business, product, service or individual. For instance, in the technology space, the Internet and web sites and applications came and disrupted the way we work, play and talk. Google came in and disrupted the way we deal with information changing the preferred navigation mode of millions of people from browsing to searching. Apple’s iPhone and other Touch-sensitive  technologies disrupted the way we interact with phones and devices. Plastic money a.k.a credit cards came in and changed the purchase behaviours of people, which some would argue, in a negative way. With the technology powering the businesses, brace yourself for more disruption to happen in the near future. From wearable technologies to 3D printing and alternative currency, disruption is the name of the game. Disruption is not only the key differentiating factor but also the secret weapon that separates the great ones from good.

bitcoin

It is equally important if not more important, for the large well-established organisations to be disruptive as much as the small, suave start-ups. Large organisations such as Google, Apple, 3M and McDonalds continuously strive at disrupting the professional and personal lives of their customers leaving a huge impact, through their new products, services and business models. Small start-ups too are doing their bit to help disrupt the existing behaviours of consumers. Take the case of Bitcoin which is a startup wanting to disrupt the way people use currencies, although some people consider it a cheeky option. Over the last 5 years or so, Bitcoin has emerged as a new alternative for payment online. Similarly, David Fishwick’s Burnley Savings and Loans Limited has been pitched as disrupting the models of the high street banks. Yes, disruption is the name of the game today and anyone who would like to make it big in business must have the answer to the question What are you disrupting today? In fact, this is the question every business and start-up must ask for themselves, not only to survive but also make a mark in this world of cut-throat competition.

 

2. Fail fast and fail often

Failure has never been more recognised and more encouraged than now. The importance of failure was best brought out by the famous saying of Thomas Alva Edison, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Failure is the stepping stone for success and nobody who has succeeded wouldn’t have done it without ever tasting a slice of failure earlier. Behind every successful entrepreneur, you can find a string of failed initiatives and this applies equally well in the case of the technology businesses and products too. I don’t mean in any way that we all must have failure as our goal, but what is important is to be prepared for failure, often to the extent of keeping it as option A. This would help ensure that you cover all the possible scenarios. Also, when you fail, you are bound to become battle-hardened because with failure, you know what works and more importantly what doesn’t work.

Fail fast, fail often_texavi

It may seem that I am all for hailing failing, but the important bit is to recognise the need to fail early. Failing early on helps us to correct the course quicker and better. It will also help us in preparing to prevent similar instances or occurrences in the future. Failing earlier is better than failing quite later down the line, as the impact would have been lesser as also the resources required to for corrective action. Failing often is also a key step in the journey of progression and success as that shows the continuous endeavour and effort for improvement.

3. Adopt the Hacker way

Times are gone when people want to do things in a linear, bureaucratic and often long-winding manner. From venture capitalists to employers and financial markets, everyone nowadays insists on street-smart, tech savvy and ingenious attitudes on display. In a world where the boundaries between work and play are being constantly erased, what one needs is the ability to make a killing with speed, accuracy and confidence. One word to describe all of these and more is HACKER. Yes, hackers, at least in the context of IT industry, are your new battle-ready warriors who are the new age ninjas to pump up the productivity, profits and products’s successes through their shrewd, speed and solid work.

Hacking - brilliant idea

Hacking is not evil anymore, well if done with the right intent and intentions. It used to be often associated with young, smart brains turned in the wrong direction a la snooping. In the context of this post, I am referring to hacking in a slightly different skill – that of “doing” rather than relying on lengthy debates and futile processes. When Facebook went for the IPO, we got to know one of the secrets for their sustained success, which is The Hacker Way. Hacking in this sense is not about snooping, but it is the ability to quickly conceptualise, design, develop and test a product or feature quickly  and iteratively. So, there is no two ways in embracing the hacker way to deliver and turn around successful products, services and concepts quicker and more effectively.

4. Lean is in, are you ready

Building huge monoliths of businesses had been the key focus in the last few decades where power and might took precedence over everything else. Excess drive was on to build up the industrial mega-revolution making things bigger, mightier and powerful without consideration for the effectiveness, efficiency and long-term sustainability. However, as technology led from the front in the last couple years, businesses realised that its not the size and strength that matters, but efficiency and productivity on a sustainable basis. So, lean is in and started to impact various industries from manufacturing to IT. Going agile and being lean is not in processes alone, but must be replicated in people and other resources too.

Be_nimble_and_lean_TEXAVI

I shall touch upon each of these topics in greater detail in the upcoming blogposts. Please drop in with your feedback for further improvements and yes, you can also share some ideas for new topics. Have a nice time and until the next post, ciao!