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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Each Day Is An Interview

Over my career I have learned that how people perceive you is critical to your success. There has been a lot of conversations in the industry about building your personal brand. It's important to understand how others perceive you. Some of things that perceptions stem from are:

1. Your appearance - how do you present yourself to others? Do you take time to dress in a fashion that promotes your professionalism or is your appearance sloppy? People will judge you on the way you look whether it's right or wrong.
2. How you present yourself to others - Are you confident? Do you portray low self esteem? Are you conceited or arrogant? Some of these things can be a turn off to others. Again whether right or wrong.
3. How do you handle situations? - Do you break under pressure? Do you fly off the handle?

These are just a couple of examples. From a professional perspective consider each day an interview. You never know who is watching you and formulating opinions about you. You don't want great opportunities to pass you by because someone has a negative perception of you.

Don't get me wrong, everyone has "off days" but it's very important, especially in this job market to ensure that no matter where you are and no matter who are surrounded by the " best" you is being portrayed.


Paula Bell

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


There is no better feeling than to help someone who doesn't understand a subject matter understand it. Sometimes we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. I had the opportunity to help someone that I'm coaching in the BA space to understand some key concepts of business analysis. This individual is mot new to using the skills of a BA but she is new to the actual concepts and terminology of business analysis. What may come easy to me or someone else that has been in this discipline for awhile is not easy to someone who is new to the discipline. This reminded me of a few things that we sometimes forget, speaking mainly to those who have been in business analysis for while, when working with junior BA's

1. Understand what the person's knowledge area is and help them devise a plan on where they want to go.
2. Be patient as their is tendency to get frustrated if they are not learning as fast as you think they should.
3. Take time to explain things in a way where the individual can understand. Meet the individual where they are at. Give real life examples they can relate to.
4. Give recognition along the way for a job well done
5. Motivate the individual but provide constructive feedback in a communication style it will be accepted.

I know that depending on the environment you are in you may not have time to do all of the above; however, if you can ensure you do because you are helping a fellow business analyst strengthen the business analysis community.

If you are not a BA you can still relate the above to your personal life. Find how you can add value to someone else's life with you own life experiences and work environment.


Paula Bell

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peer Reviews

As a business analyst I tend to take pride of my work. I own what I write. However, there is a lot of benefit of conducting and receiving feedback from peer reviews. If your peer can't understand what you are communicating then there is a good chance others won't as well but it's hard to take that feedback because of the fact you own that work. I know the first time I conducted a peer review I thought I had arisen as a BA. I finally had the senior BA title and I felt like I was better than others. Oh but I had to swallow a piece of humble pie because depending on how you communicate the feedback you can hurt someone's feelings or offend them and that was my first experience. The first peer review I conducted offended the other person. Also, the first peer review feedback I received hurt my feelings because again I thought I had arisen as a business analyst.

I'm by no means saying do not conduct a valid peer review where you provide honest feedback that will provide value to enhance what ever material you are reviewing. Be humble and kind in all you do because it goes a long way.

I have learned that the hard way over the years but once I got it I was more effective as a BA and in my personal life.


Paula Bell

Monday, June 27, 2011


Monday, June 27, 2011
Today was an interesting day.  I have been recovering from a lovely BBQ over the weekend and I must admit have been tired today.  Why does it always seem when you are tired or not feeling well everything hits you at once?  It was slow going for me in the morning but when I got to work I had no time to feel tired.  I had some many requests from so many different people.  I have requests in email, IM, phone calls, conference calls, outstanding items, follow-up items, deliverables assigned to me and others I'm overseeing.  I'm HUGE on prioritization but it got to the point that I didn't even know what to prioritize because everything was URGENT.  

I'm sure we've all felt this way before whether at work or in our personal life but it's hard to prioritize the unknown.  It's also hard sometimes to not show that you are overwhelmed.  So you might ask, "What did you do?"  I did what most people would do, PANIC.  However, I came to the realization, and very quickly I might add, that the things that are coming at you are out of your control.  There are so many hours in the day and the more anxiety or frustration you have the less energy you have to dispense on what you should be truly focusing on.

I can sit here and tell you that though I have been doing this type of work for 15 years that I am use to handling any situation that comes my way but I would be lying to you if I said because I don't know what situation will present itself to me every day.  What I can say though is that I am human and as a human we have emotions and make mistakes and sometimes my emotions overtake logical thinking.  There are a lot of things that can account for you handling situations differently.  Depending on your environment and what is going on in that environment at that time can cause you to handle a situation, that you would be normally rational about, irrationally.  How you feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually can affect how you handle those situations.  I see this daily.  Even if you do act irrationally you can still make it right because face it we all have these days.  

What I have learned over the years is that when you feel overwhelmed do the following:

1.     Take a deep breath - it's amazing what this can do for you.
2.     Walk away from what you are working on. 
3.     Consult with a peer and get another perspective on how you are feeling; because I can guarantee you, we have all felt this way at one point or another.
4.     Sit down and list out everything you need to get done and prioritize it.  Ask for help if you find that the list is more than you can accomplish.
5.     Realize that your priority list can change on a whim. Anything can happen at any given time that you are not expecting, so be flexible.

What I have learned if you act irrationally before you can do the above 5 steps:

1.     Calm down and figure out what made you act irrationally and how you won't let it happen in the future.  Learn from your mistake so don't your repeat it. Self-introspection is key because you may not have control over others but you do have control over yourself.
2.     If you have offended anyone, APOLOGIZE.  Make sure to get it right because having good relationships is what makes you successful as a BA.  Be humble and admit you are wrong.
3.     Ask for help.  If you have more on you than you can handle ask for help.  Talk to your manager/supervisor and see if some of your work can be delegated.  Don’t take the whole world on your shoulders.
4.     Prioritize what you have to do and ensure you have a game plan to achieve it.

Trust me; I'm taking my own advice right now.  It's hard when you are overwhelmed and stressed but there are things you can do to alleviate those feelings.  I'm here to tell this is not the last time you will feel this way.  Don’t let the situation define your reaction but your reaction define the situation.  The better you act the better you can handle the situation.
To my fellow business analysts who are feeling this way stay encouraged and to those who are not business analysts but are following this blog in support of me I say, thank you, and take from this what you can to apply to your personal life.

Talk to you soon!

Paula Bell

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unfortunately I missed posting on Friday due to the 1st Annual Bell BBQ which my family and I have been planning for a month. It's amazing how you can use business analysis in everything you do. We started off with looking at the Farmer's Almanac to figure out the best day to have this event without conflicting with our schedules. We picked our date but unfortunately, despite our efforts, the weather didn't hold out and we ended up having a rainy day in the morning, it cleared up in the afternoon somewhat, but not enough to do the inflatable waterslide and ice cream truck as pplanned. However, we still had the BBQ and it was aa HUGE success.

How many times as business analysts do we have a plan and then some external force we have no control over alters that plan? We have to be flexible as business analysts, it's not a black and white thing all the time. Though it may be frustrating we have to alter our plan to accommodate the current environment. Not alter to the point of losing quality but alter to the point of effectively navigating through the environment to reach the end goal. So how do we do this?

1. Don't panic - when there is a change it is not necessarily a bad thing. It may need to change to provide a better solution or it may be the environment you're in that you have no control over it. So if you have no control over it then why stress over? Get over it, reposition yourself, vent if you need to and keep it moving.
2. Know your battles - know the battles to fight. This may not be one. Don't waste energy on things you have no control over.
3. Keep a level head - don't immediately get confrontational, understand why the change has occurred. Understand what you are facing and react accordingly. The first instinct is not to go off but to understand.
4. Be flexible - if you have a hard time being flexible then business analysis will be challenging because flexibility is our middle name.

I will stop here as I'm tired and need to go to bed. Today has been a long day but I will be back shortly.

Paula Bell

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Thursday - June 23, 2011

I'm excited to finally have a blog I can update on my IPad. Welcome to my blog site.

I have been doing business analysis work for some time now in many different industries and have learned quite a bit over the yearsand continue to learn more daily. I do business analysis costing, mentoring and speaking and have a passion for it. The best way to learn is to experience things whether good or bad. My business analysis career has been a journey and I wish I would have started journaling it years ago just to show how much this discipline (yes it is a discipline) has changed.

As I do business analysis work I will journal my challenges, failures, successes, best practices, lessons learned and more and I hope to receive comments as well to strengthen our business analysis knowledge and skills across the nation.

Look for more to come.


Paula Bell