On the one hand, I always ask the same questions

I have always believed that a good business analyst will be able to work on any project because he or she will ask good questions. At the same time though I have always believed that different projects need different approaches and therefore potentially different skills.

Which begs the question – should our approach to starting a project be based on the type of project or on a generic set of questions aimed at understanding the problem to be solved (or the opportunity to be seized)?

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Why should we do this project? So what?

If we don’t know why we are doing a project, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing it. But on many projects, if you ask the team “what will be different when we finish?” they look confused and start talking about the tasks they are performing.

But the tasks being performed should be moving toward some goal, which should be based on making something different to the way it is now (or would be without the project). Otherwise, to quote my grandmother:

How do you know you are not mistaking activity for progress? 

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Creating a basic communication plan

The world’s simplest communication plan might be this one:

  • Who I am communicating with?
  • What should I be telling them?
  • How should I communicate with them?

Even thinking about those three questions on the bus on your way to work might help create better communication. But I thought I would break the questions down to come up with a slightly more complex plan that is still not hard to do.

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Stealing ideas from Stand Back and Deliver

I am running an “advanced BA course” next week and as part of the course we will be exploring the concept of strategy from a business analysts point of view.

One of the trainers I work with (Shane) recommended we provide the participants with a book called “Stand Back and Deliver” by Pollyanna Pixton, Niel Nickolaisen, Todd Little and Kent McDonald.

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A course on change management in the real world

I spend a lot of time training teams in new approaches like agile development, but most of this training is about new techniques themselves rather than the process of managing the adoption and acceptance of those techniques.

I also spend a lot of time coaching project managers in how to run more effective projects, but I find that a lot of my time is spent on helping them to deal with internal politics, resistance to their projects and communication issues – which do not form part of most project management courses.

As a result I believe there is a need for good training in the area of managing change.

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