This post will completely change your frame of mind when gathering requirements for a solution to a problem or for a large project.
It did for me!
Because as soon as I was able to add statistics to my requirements gathering and recommendations, I had a much bigger impact on director’s and manager’s decision making.
The other challenge you face in Business Analysis is this…
Whenever we ask our stakeholders about statistics we often hear the answer.
“IT VARIES” or “IT’s DIFFERENT EVERY TIME”
These answers are useless to us so we simply can’t accept that as a statistic.
And that’s partly the reason for this post.
In this post I’m giving you 5 ways to add statistics to your requirements, findings and recommendations.
Not only that…
I’ll also show you how to get a more measurable answers from your stakeholders than just hearing ‘it varies’ all the time.
First, Here’s my experience with Statistics in Business Analysis
When I first started out as a Business Analyst, I just wasn’t happy with the strength of my presentations.
I kept wondering why
And I eventually realised it was because my presentation to the directors and other stakeholders were always very subjective.
So what did I do?
In order to make them more powerful, I had to make the output more quantitative using real data.
The very next Business Analysis Report I did, I was able to win round the agreement from Directors to go with MY solution. Even thugh there were 4 options on the table
And even though many people had to show much more preference for other solutions prior to the meeting.
Not only that.
It also came up in an BA interview and I smashed the question by telling them this story.
So what are the best ways to get stats into your work. Let’s take a look.
Tip 1 Ask the SMEs
Imagine you are asking a subject matter expert about their work such as processing invoices through a system.
Ask your Subject Matter Experts the following questions
- How many do you receive each week?
- How many do you have to send back to the supplier?
How long does it take you to do one process?
How many can you complete in one day?
What’s the longest it’s taken you to process one invoice through the system
What’t the quickest you’ve done one invoice
How long are the invoices sat in the ‘in-tray’ before you get to them?
Any question that includes how long or how much is very useful when gathering statistics.
Tip 2 Overcome the ‘it varies” response
Doing this will give you a plethora fo figures to work with when presenting your findings and recommendations maybe in the form of a business analysis report.
When you ask any person a question in business, they often say ‘it varies’.
However as a BA, you can’t accept that.
You need to follow up with a different question but one that still gets to the answer you need.
Ultimately, you are looking for averages most of the time.
Here’s an example…
Imagine you ask someone ‘How many can you complete in one day?’
They give you the classic answer
You could make the question much more specific by asking the following:
- How many did you do yesterday?
- What’s the most you’ve done in a day?
- What’s the least you’ve done in a day
Now you are getting a few figures to use that will help you in the recommendations.
Tip 3 Time your observations
Doing an observation is just one of the many requirements gathering techniques you will use as a BA.
Don’t just do an observation.
Take a stopwatch with you and time the progress that’s made.
Try not to make the SME feel uncomfortable and even hide the stopwatch if you have to.
You just need to get some timings – EASY PEASY.
Tip 4 Use Microsoft Excel
Some people love Excel and some people hate it. You need to be the one that loves it.
Because it will give you thousands more opportunities when applying for different roles.
So learn it and use it to create graphs and charts when you have collected the figures you need.
Tip 4 Befriend the database administrator(s)
Doing this will make your life soooo much easier.
We all know that figures tell a story, but actually, a database will be the root to delivering the story (or should I say figures)
If you can build a strong relationship with the database administrator you can get your hands on any data you want – even if you don’t know you need it.
So there you have some simple tips to get you started on including statistics in your daily work in Business Analysis