by Nikesh Parbhoo,
Business Analysis (BAPL) Service Delivery Lead
COVID has moved some tectonic plates in the world of professional work. The world of business analysis is no exception. It can best be described as a tsunami that has upended existing work practices – some for the better and some not so good, depending on one’s circumstances.
We have had to adjust to the many realities of our new normal. As a result, there are many aspects of our working lives that have come into focus.
Technology adoption is now heightened
Globalisation has been an increasing trend over the last 30+ years, particularly with the advent of the internet and all its related technologies. This technological march forward is not and will not be interrupted by COVID – if anything, this march to an ever-integrated digital world will become a reality quicker than previously expected.
Some examples include:
- Zoom (the video conferencing tool) has quickly become a household name connecting family members, friends and work colleagues separated by government restrictions in response to the health situation.
- Online Shopping: To limit physical contact, those that shunned online shopping have now had no option but to adopt a greater level of online shopping.
Online and mobile everything is the future. With the advent of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) will become all pervasive in every aspect of our lives. From public bins talking to garbage trucks to your fridge auto ordering your groceries and thousands of other use cases – this newest surge in technology will change our lives just as the steam engine or the internet did in the past. More organisations will be investing in their technological assets to offer customers more efficient, easy-to-use, and valuable online services.
As BAs, understanding this sea of changing customer behaviour (e.g.: home delivery, click and collect, etc.) will be crucial to assisting businesses adapt and survive in the short run and become more profitable in the long run.
Distance is no barrier, even locally
As the adoption of technology ramps-up and the quality of online interactions becomes more seamless, professionals will become even more comfortable with doing business meetings, workshops, seminars, and training online. These practices have already been adopted overall by teams located across countries and continents. COVID has created the mindset/cultural shift for the adoption of remote tools for professionals working in the same city. As a BA this opens the possibilities of working with stakeholders located anywhere (near and far) using an ever-evolving set of remote working tools. The Work-from-Anywhere (WFA) culture is here and is set to get entrenched.
A greater level of emotional Intelligence is required
Communicating face to face enables a great amount of both verbal
and non-verbal communication. A large part of this is effectively lost in an online conference call. Developing skills at reading
people, understanding their point of view, being empathetic, and seeing the humanness through our newly pixelated world will set you apart as a successful professional BA.
Is the person on the other side having to feed a young infant on the other side of his/her home office whilst ‘being at the office’? Does my colleague share his/her kitchen top space with a spouse who is also working from home? Workspaces have changed overnight. Seeing your team member’s child enter the room whilst he/she is on a video conferencing call is now acceptable and needs to be acknowledged as okay as our professional and family lives blur and overlap into each other.
Existing relationships are more important than ever before
At this watershed of a new way of working, carrying existing real-world relationships into our new world of work is very valuable. Being introduced to and making meaningful and profitable relationships with other professionals online will be driven by your existing network. Tools like LinkedIn have gone a long way to make those connections easier, but real-world colleagues will make your online introductions feel much more natural.
Your online persona and reputation are heightened
Where you are not able to count on your real-world colleagues for online introductions, having an online brand presence will be a minimum for relevance. How you contribute to and increase the stock of knowledge and debate on relevant topics will drive your credibility and worth. Stand out by getting your peers to review a blog or white paper on a topic you are passionate about. By generating a healthy online discussion on specific topics, you are cultivating your online leadership skills. There’s a myriad of ways to do this – LinkedIn, YouTube, other social media, your own website, forums, etc.
Having access to proven online expertise, quickly and easily
Associate yourself with great online partners, influencers, experts, tools, and techniques. Keeping up with the best tools of your trade will be vital to you doing your job effectively and efficiently. Whilst you might be a great BA, the discipline is so broad that you will naturally not know everything. In the real world, you could easily approach your colleagues sitting a few desks away from you. You can still do this by using your chat tools, or picking up the phone and speaking to them. Though circumstances have clearly changed, associating yourself via online collaboration with like-minded professionals is a great way to have access to support ‘on tap’.
A very comprehensive centre of excellence BA tool is Business Analysts (Pty) Ltd’s BA Centre of Excellence product offering: https://www.business-analysis.com.au/ba-portal/. It provides a plethora of tools, templates, and examples of how you can perform exceptional business analysis.
Having said that, stay close to your learned colleagues and most certainly meet over a virtual coffee or lunch or even in person if possible, to maintain those strong and valuable face to face relationships, even if it is just once a fortnight.
Utilising effective online collaboration and communication tools
Having the correct mix of online collaboration and communication tools with your audience will make your job way easier. If you are an independent BA, you will have to be across the variety of tools used by different organisations. Take the time and effort to explore those tools that you might not necessarily be using at this point in time, since you might be called upon to use it down the line.
Examples of some of these tools include (certainly not an exhaustive list):
|Miro||https://miro.com/||On-line collaborative whiteboard platform.|
|Mural||https://www.mural.co/||On-line collaborative whiteboard platform.|
|Zoom||www.zoom.com||Videotelephony and online chat services|
|A unified communication and collaboration platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration|
|Google Meet||www.google.com||Video-communication service|
Equip your WFH environment professionally
If you are working from home on a more sustained basis these days, treat your workspace at home as professionally as you can. Go through your organisation’s workspace health and safety checklists to ensure that your workspace has a good chair, desk, lighting, ventilation, etc. You are going to be spending much time working at home, so make the relevant investments to make it comfortable and healthier. Your company can chip in to assist (ask them if you have not) and you will likely be able to allocate some of your WFH expenses as tax write-offs.
If possible, designate specific rooms or parts of your house that are ‘working areas’ at specific times of the day/week. Educate children about that distinction as best you can so that your productivity does not get affected. If you do not have that space, seek a local rent-an-office facility where you can mimic the professional work environment without having to commute.
We are creatures of habit and when that morning commute to the city is no longer, it can be difficult to find an equivalent activity to shift one’s focus to work. Make it a point to create consistency and rhythm for your day at the ‘office’ whilst operating on a WFH basis. Keep a regular routine of exercise, breakfast, attending to children, and then zoning into your workspace for a productive and focused day of work.
Reap the benefits ….
More time with family, being able to focus because of fewer distractions, increased productivity, more time for research, less time/cost commuting, the ability to live in desired locations, and a host of other benefits can be derived from our new way of working. Despite the many disadvantages of not being co-located in an office, those BAs that identify the benefits and avoid the pitfalls will succeed.