Communication and the Business Analyst
The Business Analyst communication becomes the middleman, bridging the gap between vague business user notions and clear development specifications. This analyst must first understand the user’s actual needs and then define a set of Business Requirements that allow designers, implementers and testers to build and verify the system. If you aspire to be an effective analyst, become proficient all forms of communication, including listening, speaking and writing. As you interact with user representative, understand their objectives of the proposed projects and their concerns about the business. Learn to use the vocabulary of the business, rather than forcing your business users to understand your jargon. Include business terms in your Data Dictionary.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification; business users should not expect every analyst to be a business expert. You might explain that you’re not completely familiar with their business and that is why you don’t fully grasp what they are describing. This approach sometimes makes the business more willing to help because they can see that you’re making a real effort to understand their environment. This is where models become imperative, as there is no ambiguity in modelling rules.
We all think within our own frame of reference, which is based on our own experience and knowledge. Take the time to learn about your business user’s environment and understand how they prefer to communicate. Watch out for assumptions that underlie either the users’ expression of needs or your own thinking. Avoid imposing your personal field of understanding on what you hear the user say.
Requirements development should lead to an understanding shared by the various project stakeholders. The analyst is responsible for writing high-quality and well-organised requirements that clearly express this shared understanding. Writing documents that business representatives can understand and verify, is a challenge, which is why I recommend that you use models (a picture tells a 100 words). Support the picture with narrative text, to further clarify understanding.
Today’s archaeological dig:
Port and Starboard:
Originally, the old sailing ships (like the Vikings), didn’t have a rudder, and were steered by a board on the right side. This came to be the “steerboard” side; the other side was called “larboard” at first, but since the side with the board couldn’t be against the dock, this other side, the left, became the “port” side.