If you are like most Business Analysts (BAs) today, you are either on an agile team or know that it is coming soon! Being present on a team is vital to achieving the intentions of the team. Sometimes we walk away from meetings and conversations and think, oh snap! I forgot to ask, tell, or clarify. Below are seven key practices you can use as reminders or as a checklist to ensure you are bringing value to the team and building on that value throughout the life of a project.
Practice The Product Vision In The Mirror Every Day.
That’s right! Know your product vision and know-how to communicate it to different audiences, different ways with a consistent message about why the solution is needed, who it serves, and how success will be measured. This typically is some sort of vision statement and high-impact metrics. Together these focus on the result that is expected from the solution.
For example, ”the new CRM solution is a solution for our sales executives and account managers to better understand their prospects and customers. Unlike today’s solution, it will provide a faster way to find prospects, qualify them, prioritize them and sell to them.” Even if you are working on defects and enhancements, your product/solution needs a vision!
As BAs, we need to constantly remind the team and stakeholders about the vision! It helps us help them make decisions, weigh trade-offs, and set priorities. It helps everyone stay focused on the user and understand what direction we are headed.
Define The Measurable Impact The Product Is Expected To Have On The End Users And/Or Customers.
Along with the vision are the outcomes and high-impact metrics that define the results we are looking to achieve in more detail. These are the BA’s keys to managing stakeholders, priorities and proving BA value. The proof is in the pudding so to speak. These metrics should be customer and value-focused as well as measurable.
For the CRM example, a metric might be conversion rates and timelines of new prospects. With this, we need to know the current numbers and a goal we are looking for this solution to achieve. For example, today we convert 10% of prospects with an average of six months from the first contact to the first sale. Our goal with the new CRM is to convert 30% in 3 months.
Even projects and features that seem to not impact the end-user or customer need to be looked at again. They typically DO impact the customer in some way, and most organizations can’t afford to impact them negatively. In these cases, you will need impact metrics for both the business and the user/customer. As a result, we track these metrics as we deliver small increments and see how each increment is making a difference in the metrics.
Measure The Impact Metrics Every 2 Weeks Or More To See How The Team Is Progressing
Yes, a BA can show value by not just defining the metrics but showing the team’s delivery work is moving the metrics in the right direction! Chart the course for the team and your value will grow exponentially. You will become the go-to person for a temperature check on how things are moving forward in the right direction.
Facilitate Feedback Loops
Work to shorten the feedback loop by defining small slices that the team can acquire real user/customer feedback on. In order to get the metric truly performing, we need feedback from the users to see how they feel it is helping them achieve their goals. So, BAs work with the team and stakeholder groups to facilitate frequent feedback loops. Increasing the frequency of feedback loops requires small increments to be defined in the backlog that the team can get feedback on! BAs, you are on it!
Prioritize Backlog Items With The PO That Move The High-Impact Metrics.
To move these metrics, BAs need to help the PO prioritize what features, enhancements, defects, and details will matter most to the metrics. An analysis is key here and BAs are at the center of it!
Refine Backlog Items To Only Get The Minimum Built To Move The High-Impact Metrics In The Right Direction.
To really make an impact, the analysis BAs must work to minimize the delivery effort needed to meet the metric. This often means limiting our tendency to work in “feature bloat” mode and only focus on what matters to move the metric. I hear many teams are focused on MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and that is really tough if we don’t know what metric we are trying to move with an MVP. Again, BAs are at the center of this critical analysis work to deliver value fast.
Inspire Analysis And Innovation In Others On The Team With Use Of Visuals
BAs who use conceptual visuals like models and charts that are user-focused can be a catalyst to a team’s innovation and problem-solving engine! Lightweight models and visuals make a huge difference! Are you ready to make it happen?