Business Analysts have a wide variety of responsibilities. They interact with stakeholders across different functions and collaborate to reach a consensus on the requirements to achieve desired business goals. The role of a business analyst has its fair share of challenges considering the breadth and depth of tasks that he/she has to perform. In this article, we are going to discuss the top 5 challenges faced by Business Analysts.
Lack of Domain Knowledge
A business analyst needs to collaborate with the business users to understand the requirements. Domain knowledge plays a vital role in having a clear and complete understanding of the requirements.
It is challenging for business analysts to be assigned to a wide variety of projects as learning new domains needs time and energy.
What should a Business Analyst do? – Every time you are assigned to a new project, make sure that you do your homework. Learning is an essential part of a BA’s career. But do you need to learn? What should be the depth of your knowledge for a domain?
As a BA, you should target to learn the basic concepts/terms and relevant processes. It’s not possible to gain expertise in a few weeks. But you can learn enough in a few weeks to add value to the Project.
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Lack of required and up-to-date process/system documentation
To thoroughly understand the business process, existing IT landscape, systems functionalities, integrations, and many other aspects affecting the Project in question, Business Analysts need to get hold of existing documentation.
However, most of the times the documentation is either not available or is not updated. This is a common scenario faced by Business Analysts in a maintenance project.
What can you do? – In the case of an existing Project, the best way is to gain knowledge about the system is to test it. It may sound pretty strange, but it is a time-tested method. Ask a team member or SME to give you a demo so that you understand the flow. Follow that up with thorough testing (Adding/modifying/deleting records).
Changing Business Needs/Requirements
Business analysts often come across situations wherein business stakeholders have asked for changes in requirements even after requirements have been finalized and signed off.
It is one of the most common challenges because it can occur not just once but several times, even for the same requirement. Such changes are likely to affect business analysis effort and the overall project effort, cost, and timelines.
Though there are methodologies like Agile that embrace change, a change in the implementation cycle can impact the delivery process. Hence, business analysts and other key stakeholders need to analyze the best way the change can be incorporated in the best way possible.
What can you do? – As a Business Analyst, you need to get hold of three key artifacts:
- Scope of work
- Solution Scope
- Change Management process
If these artifacts are not made, it’s a good idea to at least hold a quick meeting to have a broader understanding on all of the above.
A change management process must be defined that governs the handling of changes. This process must be defined in consultation with the stakeholders to handle changes that suit the context. Scope of work and solution scope helps in knowing if a request is a change or Not.
Inadequate Stakeholder Involvement
Stakeholders’ involvement is one of the critical success factors for every Project. As a Business Analyst, you may any of the following situations:
Unavailability of Key Stakeholders: If this happens, they will not sync with the latest requirements discussions leading to multi-fold issues. Either they will not be able to share their inputs or come up with changes later on.
Non-Cooperation of Stakeholders: Sometimes, you may encounter Stakeholder(s) who is not co-operating. It may lead to issues related to sign-offs, approvals, and even delays.
What can you do? –
Handling unavailability – Business analysts may capture the requirement discussions, especially crucial decisions taken, in minutes of the meeting and send that to all the stakeholders. He/she may request all absentees to go through the points before the subsequent planned requirements sessions. This will help in minimizing the chances of misunderstanding and reopening of requirement items that have been closed.
Handling Non-Cooperation of Stakeholders: A thorough Stakeholder management plan is key to tackling this issue. Identifying key expectations, roles, attitudes of the stakeholders and monitoring continuously are ways you can handle this non-co-operation.
Read Also: HOW TO HANDLE CHALLENGING STAKEHOLDERS?
As a Business Analyst, you may find yourself in a difficult situation as far as timelines are concerned and that may happen because of the following reasons:
- Unrealistic commitment by Sales Team
- Unrealistic expectations by Stakeholders
What can you do? – Sales Team may have to accept a tough deal for strategic reasons. As a Business Analyst, you can’t alter the terms of the deal, but you can assess the impact and convey the realistic cost and losses to your management. You can keep your slate clean.
Unrealistic Stakeholders’ expectations are not very uncommon. It’s important to handle these expectations with a balanced approach and without spoiling the relationships forever.
You have to interact with the Stakeholders regularly so it makes sense to try some of the following approaches:
- Give and take approach – You give some for free and charge some.
- Diplomatic Escalation – It is better for you to not escalate to the Sponsor (As that might be seen as a direct confrontation). You can always take the stand that you need to inform your management about the additional cost or impact on timelines.
These are a couple of approaches, and there could be several such approaches, which can be tried.
We invite comments from the business analysis community to share the challenges you have faced in your business analysis career and the measures you took to address them.
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