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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In All Things Be Humble

I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Get Motivated seminar here in Des Moines. It was a day full of empowerment and inspiration. I am glad I took time out for me to soak up this knowledge from leaders all over the United States. There were many underlying themes in the messages from all the speakers, but one of those items that reaonated with me is the importance of being humble. Now matter how wealthy, knowledgeable or powerful you are, humility is essential. Never think you are so knowledgeable or wealthy or even powerful that you have an aire of arrogance. I have been told that I'm a great networker and I know many successful people as well as people on the road to success. For those that are successful and even those on the road to success one characteristic I admire is their humbleness. Being humble is easier said tha done because it's easy to get caught up in the hype of what is going on around you, but when you get to the point in your life of true humbleness there is a light that shines so very brightly that attracts others to you. At one point or another every speaker I heard used this word. It is so important to check yourself daily to ensure you are not judging others or thinking you are better than others because those same people you may need in the future. Remember in all things be humble. It's an essential principle. Also, if you have never attended a Get Motivated seminar please do because they are so empowering. Regards, Paula Bell

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Prioritization Juggling Act

One of the hardest things to do is to get a group of individuals to prioritize tasks. This is hard because: 1. Decisions have to be made - which is a challenge in itself to get decision makers to make the decision 2. It's not all about you - you may have to give in on some things you really want 3. Uncertainty - if I prioritize something lower than something does that mean I won't get it all As business analyst and even in our personal lives, we deal with this prioritization juggling act through our projects and life. How do you prioritize you day? How do you prioritize your work? How do you prioritize getting from point A to point B if you kids involved in different activities? One thing I have learned, from a project perspective, is that a high, medium, low scale does not always work because most people will rate everything high. This results in wasting time and starting at the beginning. The rating is not as important as the way of thinking to clearly map out your goals. This is where the "Systems Thinking", which I love comes into play. Here are some new ways of thinking that an help you. 1. Before you start prioritizing truly understand WHY it's a task or item to be prioritized. You might say to me, "I already do that!", but do you really? How many times, as a business analyst, are you handed tasks to do and you just work them without asking questions because you were told they are needed? How many of us challenge the process to truly gain the understanding of how what we are doing is adding value to the organization and not just to meet a date? You may ask, "What does this have to do with prioritizing?" Well everything! Why even prioritize something that shouldn't be prioritized in the first place. Understand the VALUE. Systems thinking can be leveraged here and throughout this post as a way to understand the whole and not just the parts. 2. Once you have the items that need to be prioritized, bundle like items together and understand any interdependencies. How do these items relate and what are the impacts if they have different priorities? This is some analysis that gets missed upfront and then is paid for when the system is being designed or tested. This means more analysis should be done upfront. Context diagrams can be used to understand data flow, functional decomposition diagrams can be used to break down tasks as a few tool examples. 3. Identify the TRUE decision makers. Do your stakeholder analysis to determine who needs to be at the table to help make the decision. The RACI model can be used here as a tool. 4. Determine the format to present the information for productive and fruitful conversations so decisions can be made. In this documentation define the ranking system. I would suggest using some sort of numbering system. For example, number "1 - X" or a defined system where "1 = Must Have", "2 = Must Occur 3 weeks after 1", etc...This is just an example and this will have to agreed upon by the project team and decision makers. Make sure your rating skill is specific to clearly depict the value of the item being discussed. May be a matrix or excel spreadsheet as potential tools here. 5. Empower the decision makers to prioritize by listening to their concerns and ensuring they feel valued. Do not interpret them when they are speaking and do more listening and less talking. It's not about rushing throughbthebitems but really identifying the priority of items to be worked. This will make your life easier in the long run and really keep you focused on what should be worked at the time. This will take you really using your leading with influence skills. If there is one thing I want to stress is that the thinking you use to get to the point of prioritization is key as well as throughout the prioritization process. Always think, what is the VALUE add to what you are prioritizing? Asking questions upfront will help you to gain that knowledge. Don't just prioritize for the sake of prioritizing. Regards, Paula Bell

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Powerful Weekly Series

My friends and colleagues Mary Cantando of The Woman’s Advantage and Amy Palmer, The Fear-Bustin’ Sales Coach are hosting this powerful series. They have gathered together 52 inspiring women entrepreneurs to share their thoughts, insights, and wisdom with you.

Participating in this series will enable you to:

1. Start your week with an uplifting message. What better way to kickstart your activities?
2. Hear their voice, their intent, their heartfelt message.
Listening to an audio is even more intimate and personal than reading a phrase on a page.
3. Learn even more about women business owners from around the world.

Be a part of this powerful and growing Woman’s Advantage community.

Our messages cover leadership, sales, personal growth, work-life balance and more. Women business owners wear multiple hats, and our Weekly Wisdom messages reflect that variety.
Get introduced to amazing women business owners with unique businesses. You may hear an audio that deeply resonates with you- reach out and connect with that woman, you never know where it will take you!
For more information, and to subscribe to the series, copy and paste the below URL:

While anyone can hear the weekly broadcasts at no charge, you will also be offered the opportunity to purchase the entire series on mp3 and/or CD.

I will post when it’s time for my audio quote to broadcast!


Paula Bell

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Virtual Business Analyst

Check out my lastest aricle on Modern Analyst

(copy and paste the below URL in your browser)


Paula Bell

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Taking Time For Yourself

One thing I learned while doing self reflection at the end of last year is the importance of taking time out for self. I am excited about taking a family vacation over spring break this year to visit family and just get reengerized. It's so important to do this to avoid burn out. I know it's sometimes easier than said, but it's so important. There are benefits of doing this and consequences of not.

1. Gives you down time to just relax and reenergize
2. Makes you more productive as you come back fresh to work and a better attitude
3. Allows you to do self reflection on things that are going well and things that are not
4. Allows you to just sit back and enjoy life. All work and no play can make for a journey through life where you don't enjoy it
5. Increases better health in that you are taking time to rejuvenate the body

1. Potential health issues for not taking time
2. Bad attitude because of constant work
3. Lower productivity
4. Fatigue
5. Life passing you by

The consequences are definitely not worth it. Especially since those can be controlled. It's worth taking time for yourself. Whether its a day dedicated to yourself monthly, a quarterly vacation or a bi-monthly vacation, it's doesn't matter, just take time out for yourself.

I am and so should you See you in two weeks.


Paula Bell

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Expanding Your Role

I have had the opportunity to be in a Requirements Manager role on quite a few multimillion dollar projects. I have learned a lot about not only managing requirements but also working with people. I have been the "go to" person for multiple business analysts who are writing requirements on said projects.  I have found that in order for me to be successful in this role I needed to be very strong in the following:
  1. Strategic Thinking - making calculated decisions that will align with the overall company strategy. Ensuring I understand the organization's strategy.
  2. Holistic Thinking - understanding how the project fits with the overall company goals objectives and strategies.  Not being siloed in just my own area but understanding the impacts of other areas.
  3. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving - other business analysts are depending on me to help solve problems that are escalated to me.  I need to be sharp in solving problems and thinking critically to question assumptions.  
  4. Time Management - ensuring I manage my time to provide support to the business analysts that are working on the project in which I am the Requirements Manager as well as making sure I get my work done as well.
  5. Resource Allocation - I have to understand each resources' strength, area of opportunity, domain knowledge, personality and more to determine what task to assign to what resource. I always need to understand their resource capacity to ensure I don't over allocate a resource which in turn could result in the resource not being as successful as he/she could be and in that instance I may need to roll up my sleeves to help with the workload.  I'm not going to assign anyone anything I would not do.  We are a TEAM!!!!
  6. Negotiation Skills - there are many times during the gathering of requirements items need to be negotiated. I have found this negotiation occurs a lot when requirements need to be prioritized but it does occur through the entire life cycle. 
  7. Communication Skills - I have to be very effective in communicating out tasks, expectations and timelines. I have to know the communication style of each resource to ensure what I'm communicating is being understood.
I am very happy I've had the opportunity to be in this role as this role has sharpened my skills in so many areas and so many critical areas. If you have a chance to expand the role you are in to learn more things I suggest you welcome that opportunity. There is so much to be gained and learned.


Paula Bell           

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Accountability - 1 Word With So Much Impact

When you look up the word accountability in the dictionary you may find a definition that states: "the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable".  This word is a word that presents challenges on projects that I work on and even in my personal life. Holding yourself accountable is hard enough let alone having to hold others accountable. Though you may conduct stakeholder analysis and even outline roles and responsibilities on projects, the execution of accountability is tough. I have found that people shy away from accountability because if something goes wrong they don't want that held over their head or they consider it a blemish to their credibility. However, what's even worse is when you get the reputation of not being accountable which ties back to your character and integrity. If I can't rely on you to deliver what you say you are going to deliver, I get to the point where I can't trust you. To me that's a bigger blemish on you as an individual opposed to you not executing your accountability.  It's better to own the task, feeling, or question due to your accountability opposed to shying away from it.  If you are on a project team and are dealing with a person who never wants to be accountable try the following:

  1. HELP - Help the individual understand why they are the best person to be accountable for the task at hand. If the project team, sponsors or leaders didn't feel they were capable of completing the task they would not have been accountable for it. 
  2. THE WHY - Reiterate the importance of their accountability role and why it's important that he/she own and execute the items for which they are accountable. Explain the risks and/or consequences of what will occur if he/she doesn't follow through. 
  3. RESEARCH- Before giving someone accountability for a task understand past trends of the individual. If the individual has a history of not being accountable you may have to go with someone else.  If you don't an option to go with someone else set clear expectations and give feedback in the moment.
  4. SUPPORT - Provide as much support as you can for the individual to be successful. This may include additional information to help the individual to be accountable. 
  5. MODEL THE BEHAVIOR- Most important - if you are not being accountable for tasks assigned to you, then don't expect any different from those you work with or have relationships with. Practice what you preach and walk the talk.

Accountability is something that is a challenge on projects and in life in general. This word has a lot of tentacles to it as it does define a person's character and integrity. Let your character and integrity separate you from the rest. Hold yourself accountable in all do and execute accordingly.   Also, admit when you mess up because you are human and will make mistakes.


Paula Bell
BA Martial Artist

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Never Stop Learning - The BA Coach (a.k.a. Yamo) Podcast with Paula Bell

Good evening everyone!

I am very excited about this podcast.  I had the honor to be interviewed by The BA Coach (Yamo) at the end of last year and the podcast is now live.  Please check out the Podcast at the below:

Please let me know your thoughts by leaving comments and check out the wonderful things my fellow BA, Yamo is doing for the BA Community.

Paula Bell

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Tenant of Self Control

One of my passions along with leadership and business analysis is strengthening at all times are interpersonal skills, which a lot of individuals are not interested in sharpening because they believe they have mastered them or individuals tend to just put the on the back burner and focus only on the hard skills. This to me is so sad because without the interpersonal skills you will not be as successful as you can be.  I'm speaking of things such as communication, relationship building, etc...

From an earlier blog post last year, one of the items I discussed is the five tenants of Karate. Those tenants are:

1.    Courtesy
2.    Integrity
3.    Perseverance
4.    Self-Control
5.    Indomitable Spirit

One of the tenants that have really resonated with me lately is self-control.  As I work with people either in business analysis, leadership and career development or event planning I have realized the importance of exercising this tenant without being taken advantage of. Understanding that if someone is hostile to you doesn't mean your reaction should be the same. Understanding yourself to know how to exercise is extremely important but you also need the balance to not be run over. In my dealings with people every day I have come up with the following tips on how to practice self-control in high pressure situations without compromising who you are or being run over:

1.   If someone is confrontational toward you exercise self-control by staying calm.  If they raise their voice then lower yours. It's hard to argue with someone if they aren't arguing back.
2.   If you feel yourself losing self-control walk away from the situation and address it when you are calm. Sometimes the best reaction is no reaction at all.  No need to add fuel to an already burning fire
3.   Understand your limitations. In order to interact with others you must know who you are. What makes you tick? How do you like to be approached?  Once you define who you are, you know your boundaries. This helps yourself control because you know when you are reaching your point of no return.
4.   Don't take everything personal. Sometimes we can take comments or words personally when if you really think about it, it was never intentioned that way. Your reaction to when things are taken personally can be EXTREMELY negative.
5.  Take accountability for your actions. Before you react, hold yourself accountable to think through the consequences of those actions.

No one can control you but YOU. Know that everything you do is a reflection on your character which defines who you are. People are watching you when you may not be aware. Don't do things that will compromise that character. No matter where you are be aware of your surroundings and actions at all times. Those actions can make you and break you.

Paula Bell