Interaction Skills - Business Analyst

Facilitation and Negotiation

1. Purpose

Business analysts facilitate interactions between stakeholders in order to help them resolve disagreements regarding the priority and nature of requirements.

2. Definition

Facilitation is the skill of moderating discussions among a group to enable all participants to effectively articulate their views on a topic under discussion, and to further ensure that participants in the discussion are able to recognize and appreciate the differing viewpoints that are articulated. In many cases, an effectively facilitated discussion will help participants to recognize that they have differing views on a topic under discussion. The business analyst may be required to support negotiation between parties on how best to resolve those differences. The business analyst must be able to identify the underlying interests of the parties, distinguish those interests from their stated positions, and help the parties to identify solutions that satisfy those underlying interests.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Effective facilitation and negotiation skills are demonstrated through:

  • Ensuring that participants in a discussion correctly understand one another’s positions.
  • Use of meeting management skills and tools (including agendas and the use of meeting minutes to keep discussions focused and organized.
  • Preventing discussions from being sidetracked onto irrelevant topics.
  • Identifying common areas of agreement.
  • Effective use of different negotiation styles.
  • Ability to identify important issues.
  • Understanding and considering all parties’ interests, motivations and objectives.
  • Encouraging stakeholders to reach win/win outcomes on a regular basis.
  • Understanding of political implications in conflicts and negotiates in a politically sensitive manner.
  • Understanding the impact of time and timing on negotiations.

Leadership and Influencing

1. Purpose

Business analysts need to be able to be effective in formal and informal leadership roles, in order to guide others investigating requirements and to help encourage stakeholder support for a necessary change.

2. Definition

The business analyst’s responsibility for defining and communicating requirements will place him or her in a key leadership role in any group or project team, whether or not there are people formally reporting to the business analyst.

Leadership involves motivating people to act in ways that enable them to work together to achieve shared goals and objectives. The business analyst must understand the individual needs and capabilities of each team member and stakeholder and how those can be most effectively channeled in order to reach the shared objectives. Effective leadership therefore requires that the business analyst be able to develop a vision of a desired future state that people can be motivated to work towards and the interpersonal skills necessary to encourage them to do so.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Effective leadership and influencing skills are demonstrated though:

  • Reduced resistance to necessary changes.
  • Team members and stakeholders demonstrating a willingness to set aside personal objectives when necessary.
  • Articulation of a clear and inspiring vision of a desired future state.

Teamwork

1. Purpose

Business analysts must be able to work closely with other team members to effectively support their work so that solutions can be effectively implemented.

2. Definition

Business analysts customarily work as part of a team with other business analysts, project managers, other stakeholders and implementation SMEs. Relationships within the team are an important part of the success of any project or organization.

There are a number of team development models that attempt to explain how teams form and function. These models outline how the team progresses and what is normal at various stages of the team lifecycle. Recognizing the stage of the team’s progress can lower the stress of team relationship development by allowing members to recognize behaviors as normal, expected, and a stage to be worked through. Communications and trust can also be enhanced through understanding and awareness of facets such as the process of setting of rules for the team, team decision-making, formal and informal team leadership and management roles.

Team conflict is quite common. If handled well, the resolution of conflict can actually benefit the team.The basic types of conflict are emotional and cognitive. Emotional conflict stems from personal interactions, while cognitive conflicts are based upon disagreements on matters of substantive value or impact on the project or organization. Resolution of cognitive conflict requires the team to focus on examining the premises, assumptions, observations and expectations of the team members. Working through such problems can have the beneficial effect of strengthening the foundation of the analysis and the solution. Many conflict situations encompass both emotional and cognitive elements.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Effective teamwork skills are demonstrated though:

  • Fostering a collaborative working environment.
  • Effective resolution of conflict.
  • Developing trust among team members.
  • Support among the team for shared high standards of achievement.
  • Team members have a shared sense of ownership of the team goals.

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