Next Steps After Getting the BA Job
By the way, congrats on landing the job- the hard part is over; what follows next is a series of trials & errors, fits and sleepless nights (weirdly, I personally find these thrilling). Anyway, contrary to popular assumptions, you won’t get into a project immediately, and if you are asked to pick up a project as soon as you resume, politely decline this and ask for time to understand the company. If you start “working” on your first day, you run the risk of pulling the team backwards, which might negatively affect the project.
So here are my tips on your first two weeks:
It is absolutely normal to be nervous, but I want to assure you that you got the job because they thought you could do it, so relax and believe that you will exceed expectations.
Introduce yourself to your immediate team.
This goes without saying, but if you are employed as an operational BA (say Agile BA, Product Owner, Technical BA and other titles that work within a project) wear a soft smile and introduce yourself to your immediate team (individually or as a group) with a short sentence. I say “Hi I’m Nnenna, the new BA on the team and I’m excited for us to work together to make magic!”… (this is sure to make people see you as approachable).
If, however, you are a strategic BA (BAs that work outside projects, who analyse the business environment and plan strategies to improve the business), you don’t need to worry about an introduction- but ensure that you respond to any received email with a brief and formal introduction.
Get your hands on the Organogram (Organisational Chart).
The Organisational Chart is to a new BA, what a walking stick is to a visually-impaired individual. The Organogram will help you to know who-is-who and to build a RACI & Power/Influence matrices. For operational BAs, the matrices will change frequently, according to the project or product that you are working on, but for strategic BAs, the RACI will not change as frequently. The RACI also helps you to create a Communication Plan which is essential to your Business-As-Usual. The Organogram, RACI & P/I matrices are essential in helping you identify who you can get “buy-in” from, which then makes negotiations and conflict resolution easy to manage.
Remember: People with high influence and high power will less likely attend a brain-storming session due to busy schedules, but will most likely agree to a one-to-one or interview. Similarly, it is easier to elicit requirements from users/customers using questionnaires.
Understand the company.
BAs work in numerous domains: Public Health, Telecom, Insurance, Pharma, Supply Chain, Software, Universities, and many more. The problem is that domains adversely affect the kind of strategies or solutions that you could recommend. For instance, regulated environments like financial services care about auditing and security than reputation. Most private sector companies care about revenue generation and cost-reduction. Similarly, Public sectors care about reputation and improved ways of working for staff. Understanding this will allow you to tailor your recommendations to the needs and objectives of the business.
Learn about the tools of the Trade in use.
Some companies have local directories to store documents, some store their documents in Confluence. Some interact using Skype, some use Teams. Some use TFS as their product management tool, some use Jira. Some use emails as their high-level communication tool, some use Trello. Also, if you are an Operational BA, you your team might prefer Gherkins to User stories, or the QAs might prefer their acceptance criteria as rule-based instead of scenario-based. It is imperative to know these things, so that you can familiarise yourself with them (watch demo videos if you have to). This will make your transition into the company easier and make you seem like you are embracing the ways of working.
Ask for Templates and previous projects documentations.
Most organisations have templates that are designed for a purpose or have been previously used in other projects. If you are an operational BA, it is important that you merge with the ways of working, so as not to startle your team mates. If a template does not exist, you could then create on with the team. Ask the team what they would like the document to contain and agree with them on the structure of the document. If you are trying to introduce a new document, organise a session where you can teach them about the usefulness of the document/diagram. Upon agreement, standardise the template and save this in the repository for future use. In addition, skim through previous projects to gain familiarity of the types of projects they work on and the types of problems they resolve. Don’t forget to the basic rules of versioning and capturing the names of contributors/participants.
Finally, always remember the characteristics of a BA (great communication, excellent interpersonal skills, agility, adaptability and keen learning). Always seem approachable, speak slowly, ask questions or research what you don’t know, be prompt to meetings, try to remember names, follow up emails with face-to-face chats/confirmation and focus on gaining consensus- you’re not a dictator, you’re an enabler.
I like to keep my posts short, so I will stop here for now. Please ask any questions you may have in the comment section.
Author: Nnenna Stevenson (Business Analyst)