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Business Analysts Mentoring

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by Business Analysis (BAPL)

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Working on projects for a specialist Business Analysts provider, Business Analysis (BAPL), I often find myself working alongside people looking for a new career path and showing interest into becoming a Business Analyst. I also work with BAs with a variety of levels of experience and, for me, I am always interested in supporting BAs to improve the clients outcomes. I would consider myself a pro-active person in the pursuit of further knowledge, it’s great to keep the grey matter ticking over. I also like to gain new knowledge, insight and tips, sometimes this is just a matter of asking what others are doing or reading. So, when a client BA or SME is looking to me for some help I am happy to provide any assistance I can. You never know when you are going to learn something from the experience as well. Mentoring doesn’t have to be a formal relationship, for me Mentoring is just giving someone a helping hand.

Where possible, I try to lead by example. This means that, if possible and beneficial to the project, I will try to include my co-worker in my Elicitation Sessions. This way they are exposed to the way I like to engage with stakeholders in the business. If I’m running a workshop then I may be able to use the co-worker as a scribe, or to support in capturing processes or requirements. I try to set expectations beforehand. Then, at the end of the workshop I will explain the reasons for performing some of the activities I have done.

Everybody makes mistakes, and I for one have been “bitten” by an action I have performed – or failed to perform. It’s a hard lesson to learn at the time but sometimes you learn that lesson well. When a co-worker is looking to move into a BA role and makes a mistake then share with them some of the failures you have experienced in your career, it helps to realise that everyone is human. For me, one of the things that make people more relatable is when people admit to their mistakes or failures. We have all had them.

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For a co-worker to have had a failure then it means that you needed to have given them some responsibility. This isn’t throwing them in the deep end by any stretch of the imagination. It is more a matter of handing over some of the tasks you have to and allowing them to have a go. After all, practical experience really helps cement the theory.

A good example of this is when I had a client BA attempt at completing a process flow diagram after completing a BA training course. After talking it through with them they were comfortable to give it a go. We decided that they would create the flow and then I would review it. As any experienced BA will know, you can have 3 different BAs work on the same process flow and there is no guarantee that they will look identical. When they originally began sketching it I saw their approach and then I left them to it, even though it wasn’t how I would have started it. Anyone got any children learning to read? My daughter is reading at the moment and sometimes she mispronounces a word and keeps going. Then she realises the sentence sounds funny so goes back and discovers her error. Mentoring is a bit like that, you need to learn to wait until you give advice. I find trial and error powerful ways to learn. When the flow was complete, I asked how they had found it and what, if anything, did they struggle with. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn’t where I thought they would have struggled. Drawing out details of the problems co-workers are facing can help with the ways that you can help them. If you can, truly be an active listener– by this I mean don’t immediately assume you know what the problem was and give advice, wait to hear from their perspective and understand what it is they are saying.

I’m extremely fortunate to have access to a library of personal development sessions, slide packs, BA chat groups, article links and various other items that Business Analysis provide all of their consultants through their BA Centre of Excellence. This means when I learn of some skill someone wants to develop not only can I provide recommendations on books or sites I may know of, but chances are I can find something through our BAPL Centre Of Excellence.  Finding out what interests or skills your Mentee wants to develop can really help strengthen their skillset.

Four people at a meeting sitting and laughing at a laptop in front of a bookcaseSo, what do I get out of all of this you may ask? For one, BAPL is focused on supporting our clients deliver better software initiatives. I am really proud when something gets delivered by someone that I know I have helped in some way. I also make sure I acknowledge their great efforts – it doesn’t take much to congratulate someone on a task well done. This is probably the last point I would like to make – ensure that you celebrate the wins.

It really doesn’t take much to help someone develop their career, I know I have had help along the way, and it is always nice to be in a position to pay it back. So, if you get the chance whether by a formal or non-formal agreement, give it a go, you’ll be surprised by how much you get back.

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