2 ways you are giving away your BA power


The idea of giving away your personal and professional power has been on my mind for months. I have seen this in many situations lately and I have been fascinated how people seem to lose their power. Even worse is when someone just gives up their power and let’s someone else have it. This isn’t how it has to be! I will speak in terms of business analysis specifically; however this applies to other roles we play in our friendships, families and any profession.
Exactly what do I mean by giving up your power? When you are in a situation that you are the leader, the owner of an activity and you decide to just not be. This may take some time, but in the end you are left powerless. Here are two ways I see business analysts giving away their power.

1. Vendor invasion

You are a business analyst working with a vender on a COTS implementation. The vendor insists that they will be in charge of business requirements. As a new BA you may not understand the real danger this represents for your business partners. You may hear from the project manager that this is what the statement of work provides for, it will streamline the project timeline and save costs. Willy Wonka’s plea: “Stop. Don’t. Come Back.” comes to mind! This is a bad idea. The vendor works for you! You as the business analyst own the requirements for the vendor to implement. The business requirements are not vendor specific and they are not the vendors to own. Many times I have seen the vendor step in and attempt business requirements and the aftermath of that action. These are the results, missed requirements due to lack of proper elicitation; little to no requirements documentation, production defects immediately, and even worse, requirements that are documented are in the vendors systems. You as the BA own this responsibility to elicit, document and own the requirements.

Fend off the vendor invasion

So how do I sound the warning and retain my power? Firmly advocate that business requirements delivery is the business analyst’s role, the client not the vendor owns this. Highlight the business and project risks associated with the external vendor being responsible for requirements. Collaborate with the team on how you will own this responsibility, plan the requirements delivery and deliver results. If the result of this collaboration is that the vendor will be responsible to document requirements, then the role of the internal BA should change to own oversight and quality control for the requirements the vendor delivers. Retain the power of results and identify requirement gaps before production! The vendor is an important part of the team, however their role is not to own the business requirements process, but to participate. Stand firm and do not give your power away.

2. I don’t know

These words are powerful when used to indicate a follow up action. When the words are used as ‘I don’t know, I can’t find out, I am not included, etc. they become a hand raising surrender like a robber taking your power. When I hear these words I listen for the context before I explore more. If the words are followed with ‘and I will find out’ or ‘who would be a good person to ask about that’ then I know that the BA power is intact and planning for the next steps. When the words stop at ‘I don’t know’ then I shudder at the power being sucked away. As a BA, it’s fine to not know for today, that state can’t last for long.

Figure it Out!

To move past the debilitating ‘I don’t know’ realize that it’s your job to find out. Kick into investigator mode and start analyzing what you do know. Find the gaps and think about what else you need to know about the problem. Think about all the stakeholders, processes, data elements, and rules you do know and see what’s missing. Who can track that down? Ask other BAs, or team members what they know about the gaps. Then keep repeating until the last piece of the puzzle is in place. The process of analysis works when you follow it.

Don’t be discouraged if you struggle to represent the power of the business analysis role. It takes time to establish your brand as a powerful BA. It will happen when you deliver results based on analysis work. I found my power over time and so will you!

Heather- A BA Without Borders

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