I like to think of the BA role as a broker of information, getting big picture and details from many different people, groups, executives, subject matter experts, vendors, technical resources, etc . . . what the BA does with all this information and how it gets communicated and repurposed for each audience is opportunity for a BA.
Today's trends are pointing towards the following themes for BAs:
- Business Agility
- Engagement of stakeholders to drive agility and innovation
The needed skills to meet these trends in 2012:
1) Conceptual Modeling Skills
Engage your stakeholders with more meaningful dialog! Conceptual Modeling of the business view of the solution has always been a critical tool to help bring business, technology, and delivery groups together in defining solution scope. I have had many BAs tell me that they do this and show me their conceptual models. What I find when reviewing the models is more of a technical architecture or data context diagrams. Technical architecture and data context diagrams have their place, but the critical skill I am seeing as a gap in BA skill sets is the business view (vs. technical view) of the solution scope, this will be critical to engaging stakeholders and setting the stage for innovation
2) Communicating Details and Concepts
Similar to the conceptual modeling skills is communicating various levels of detail appropriate to the audience. This can be especially difficult when you have various stakeholder needs on the team or in the meeting, and many times multiple views is needed to ensure the right message is communicated to all audience needs. Where I see the gap today is details are not organized to be digestible and understandable to many audiences and there may be a lack of conceptual and context to accompany the details. Without the concept and context information, the details - even when well organized - may not be understood or thought of in with the frame of mind that the BA needs from the stakeholders. Rethink requirements packaging, does the same document need to go out to everyone? Or, can each audience be given a guide as to which pages/sections are most pertinent to them? Just a few ideas to help stakeholders consume what is important to them.
How curious are you as a BA? This has always been a critical skill for BAs. Ensuring curiosity in finding the root cause of the problem or opportunity, getting the right audience, usage, context, purpose for requirements requires a strong level of curiosity in BA work. Curiosity will go far in 2012 for BAs wanting to build competency and skills in the world of mobile apps, cloud computing, and continuing agile trends. Curiosity will make some of the unknowns of today easier to work within, a curious mindset will take BAs into communicating the unknown and help organizations innovate.
4) Decomposing the Abstract into Details
I have to call this out separately from Conceptual Modeling and Communicating Details and Concepts. The same themes are in play, but yet executed a bit differently and in different scenarios. Decomposing the abstract into details is also referred to as "critical thinking" and sometimes "system thinking"; taking something large, ambiguous, and abstract and breaking into smaller pieces, patterns, and views. It is about helping others see the details and big picture from different perspectives, helping stakeholders with varying points of view and priorities see where their details and others fit into the bigger picture. It will also help BAs better estimate and work with PMs on the status and risk of requirements.
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