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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Less is Sometimes More

Sorry for the late post as I have been sick but what I have been reminded this week is less is more. It is sometimes very hard as a business analyst to get out of the details sometimes to speak at a higher level. For example, have you found it hard to tailor your documentation to fit the audience in which you are talking or presenting to? If you are presenting to a senior leader in your organization you probably don't want to show up with a 50 page document when you can get the same information across in a 4 page PowerPoint presentation. Typically senior leaders or executives only want the high level bullet points but expect you to speak to the details if they should have questions. However, your technology team may need the 50 page document to understand what you want them to do. Now I know my agilists just crinched but I'm just trying to make a point. Another area of topic is business process modeling. A common question is, "How much detail should I flow?". What I have found is business analysts need to be really skilled on reading your audience, understanding the team dynamics and understanding the level of content your targeted audiences need. Getting out of the detail can be challenging because we are in the detail daily but we seriously need to understand how to get out of th detail and be concise. This is the point of twitter, concise messages. If I ask a question, I don't need you to go to Brazil, Argentina and then back to the United States. I need you to stay in the United States and in the city.

Some of the tips I have learned to become better at this are as follows:
1. Understand your audience - understand what your audience likes to see as far of level of detail. This means getting to know the people you work with. This doesn't mean get on a personal level but get to know pet peeves and what style of communication each individual on your team prefers. Yes, this is the power of interpersonal skills.
2. Be concise when appropriate - sometimes you need detail but be concise where you can. Remember, tweet!
3. Have a peer review your work that is mot engaged in your project - if the peer can't understand then your message is not clear. If it doesn't flow logically or make sense to your peer then there is a good chance it won't be clear to your audience.
4. Prepare - prepare for your presentations in advance, if you can. Don't wait to the last minute.
5. Be prepared - ensure you do understand the details IF asked for detail so you can speak to it. Otherwise stay concise and to the point. That will eliminate confusion and unnecessary swirling.

I have seen business analysts struggle because it's hard to get out of the detail but as business analysts we have to be flexible and meet the needs of all parties involved. We have a hard job and huge responsibilities but we are HUGE assets to the organizations in which we work.

Go forth and conquer!

Paula Bell

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