Common Challenges in Building Solutions as a Business Analyst
Common Challenges in Building Solutions as a Business Analyst
The technical skills of business analysts are vital — but communication and soft skills are equally important. Learn about some common challenges and possible approaches to overcome them.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
The open source HPCC Systems platform is a proven, easy to use solution for managing data at scale. Visit our Easy Guide to learn more about this completely free platform, test drive some code in the online Playground, and get started today.
The role of the business analyst has evolved a lot over time. Today’s expectation from this role is not simply getting requirements from the business and communicating them to the development team. This role demands more creative solutions with predictive analytics. I specifically chose to put the phrase “building solutions” in the title because it's better that the solution is actually built and not proposed. Building solutions the process of gathering requirements in a systematic way so that we can define the solution and not just freeze requirements. I've seen business analysts fail to build effective solutions because of various factors. Business knowledge plays a vital role in this process; however, other factors also play a major role in building solutions. I can think of some factors that may impact effective solution building:
• Unable to differentiate needs and wants in the requirements.
• Interpersonal/influencing skills.
• Lack of data to justify a solution or its benefits.
In this article, I will talk more about these challenges and some best practices that I have followed to overcome them.
Challenges in Building Solutions
The moment we ask “What do you want?” or “What is expected?” is when we are expected to get a wishlist of the requirements. It takes a lot of time and effort on the BA's part to filter these needs and persuade stakeholders that they aren't all necessary or viable. Many times, we fail to understand the intent of business pain, vision, userbase, etc. because of this wish list — which reduces the scope of the solution because it diverts focus from needs toward wants.
Apart from individual BA skills other team members/ stakeholders can also impact decision making of the solution. Every individual is unique in nature and needs to handle them differently. Some people believe in Data or some believe live demo etc. If we failed to handle each individual differently than likelihood we may lose vital information and ultimately it will impact solution.
As far as building solutions instead of proposing them, sometimes, a BA proposes a solution and tries to defend his or her view. This approach doesn't always work since others may feel that they are not included in decision-making and the solution being imposed. In some scenarios, you may not able defend the solution if you don’t have the required data or if the stakeholders have better influencing power and/or skill.
Before jumping into the solution, you'll want to gather some information that will help you further fine-tune solution and understand all possible business scenarios. Understanding some of the below aspects will help a BA build a better solution.
- Deep understanding of the business problem statement: Most of the time, we get our business requirements and jump right into building the solution. But doing this, we may miss some of the vital aspects of the business issue because we don’t fully understand the business problem. This may turn into delivering a high-tech solution when there could be a more simple solution that only includes what is truly required for the user.
- Business vision toward the solution in the short-term vs. long-term: It's important to consider whether your solution is intended to solve a short-term or a long-term business problem. If a customer is looking for a short-term solution, they might not be interested in spending more time in designing and may just be looking for a quick fix.
- Impacted user base: The solution may change based on the user. There are various types of userbases based on language, culture, gender, etc. that may change your design. If the solution is going to be used across the globe, then these factors need to be considered when designing the solution.
Instead of simply proposing a solution, the approach of building a solution together will help to build an effective solution. This helps everyone feel that they have contributed to the solution and the decision-making process behind it. To do this successfully, you need to be prepared with a list possible questions that the company requiring the solution may have and gather data in advance to back up your views. For example, consider that we wanted to develop a mobile app for movie ticket booking and the requirement is to book a ticket with less navigation. Instead of coming up with the solution and proposing it, we can have our proposal ready and ask ourselves questions about it to validate that it's a valid proposal and will solve different business scenarios. In this case, we can ask ourselves questions like, “Can we store user interest (i.e. kid-friendly, family movies, etc.) as part of their profile?” or “Can we allow the user to select their default payment method in their profile?” Answering these questions will guide you toward a solution.
Data analysis is now an integrated part of the business analyst role. Data analytics can help business analysts to understand various aspects of data and can be presented in such a way the layman is also able to interpret data. These techniques will play a major role in designing solutions and making decisions. Using such techniques will help you understand the actual business issue at hand so that you can anticipate possible impacts of the solution. This data will also help you back up your opinions.
Assertive communication plays a vital role in collecting clear information. Instead of asking open-ended questions like “What do you want?”, asking closed-ended questions will help you gather more accurate information and get everyone’s approval. This approach also helps to influence others to some extent.
The technical skills of business analysts certainly help to deliver a better solution — but communication and soft skills are equally important. In this article, I talked about some common challenges and possible approaches to overcome them. The approaches that I mentioned are not the only ones, and I am sure that each challenge has multiple possible solutions.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.