Behavioral skills play a very important role in strategic business analysis. It requires a deep engagement with stakeholders and without the right mix of behavioral and process skills, one is unlikely to be successful in any strategic business analysis initiative.
Here are 4 broad categories of behavioral skills that is helpful in strategic business analysis initiatives:
- Leadership skills
- Industry knowledge
- Facilitation skills
- Technology skills
Let’s discuss each of these skills in brief.
Leadership skills are essential to any strategic business analysis initiative. It can help build strong teams within a business and ensure initiatives are performed successfully.
Almost any positive soft skill might be considered a leadership skill. For example, active listening helps leaders bring projects to completion by hearing the ideas and concerns of the team. Empathy, for example, helps leaders understand how their team feels about their workload, environment and workplace relationships.
Here is a list of must-have leadership skills:
Effective leaders are those who can make decisions quickly with the information they have. Effective decision-making comes with time and experience. As the strategic BA becomes more familiar with your specific industry, she is able to make decisions faster, even when you don’t have all of the necessary information. Decisiveness is seen as a valuable leadership skill because it can help move projects along faster and improve efficiency.
Integrity is often seen as just truthfulness or honesty but in many cases, it also means having and standing by a set of strong values. Integrity in the workplace often means being able to make ethical choices and helping the company maintain a positive image. All businesses seek to hire workers who have a strong sense of integrity.
Relationship building (or team building)
Leadership requires the ability to build and maintain a strong and collaborative team of individuals working toward the same goal. Team building requires other leadership strengths, like effective communication skills and conflict resolution.
Being a dependable leader means that people can trust and rely on you. A dependable person follows through on plans and keeps promises. The strong relationships built by a dependable leader create a resilient team that is able to work through difficulties that may arise.
Ability to teach and mentor
One skill that differentiates leadership from many other competencies is the ability to teach and mentor. Effectively teaching colleagues or direct reports to grow in their careers helps organizations scale. Often, this skill requires that leaders think less about themselves and more about how to make their team as a whole successful.
Ethics is a system of moral principles like fairness, consideration to others, resolution of ethical dilemmas, honesty in thoughts and actions etc. Ethical behavior includes understanding the impact of a solution on various stakeholder groups and working towards ensuring a fair and transparent treatment towards all of them.
Personal accountability includes effective planning of strategic business analysis work to achieve targets and goals by completing tasks on time and meeting expectations of stakeholders and colleagues.
Timely delivery of tasks, honesty, consistency and confidence in conduct helps in earning the trust of stakeholders. Once trust is built, stakeholders discuss sensitive issues with Strategic business analysts and also give importance to their ideas and recommendations.
Unit and time management
Strategic business analysts handle multitudes of information which must be organized and stored efficiently based on importance so that they can be reused when required. Prioritizing tasks and deadlines will help to manage time effectively.
It is a Strategic business analyst’s ability to adjust techniques, styles, methods and approaches to suit the needs of the rapidly changing environment and also deal with a variety of stakeholders.
Creative thinking by identifying and proposing alternatives Strategic business analysts encourage stakeholders to think creatively in order to come up with new ideas, approaches, alternatives to problems etc. They promote and by asking questions and challenging assumptions.
Strategic business analysts may have to work in new domains where they do not have prior experience. During this situation, they must be open to quickly learn new and different types of information and modify their existing knowledge to adapt themselves to a rapidly changing and evolving environment. Learning techniques can be visual, auditory or kinesthetic (learning by doing).
Problems are defined and solved so that stakeholders understand the root cause of a problem and the solutions that address it. Objectives that will be achieved on solving a problem are stated clearly and alternative solutions are developed. The best possible solution is then chosen.
Understanding the enterprise from a holistic view by learning how people, process and technology interact.
During the entire phase, Strategic business analysts will come across scores of information which must be sieved through to find the link connecting them all and thereby fit them into a larger context.
Graphical representations help to communicate complex concepts to stakeholders and thereby help them understand and engage in the concepts that are being presented.
Business Knowledge is required for Strategic business analyst to perform effectively within their business, industry, unit, solution and methodology.
Industry Knowledge provides understanding of the current practices and activities with an industry and similar processes across industries. It is also an understanding of the positioning of a company within an industry and its impact and dependencies.
Units mostly share similar practices in the fields of finance, sales, marketing, HR, legal requirements etc. Business acumen is therefore the ability to understand business needs using experience and knowledge obtained from other situations.
Entity knowledge provides an understanding of the management structure like the people who occupy key positions, relationships between business units, formal and informal communication channels etc. and also the business architecture which provides an understanding of how the enterprise generates profits and accomplishes its goals.
Experience dealing with commercially available solutions or suppliers can help Strategic business analysts to evaluate possible alternatives and improve an existing solution.
Methodologies determine how a change is approached and managed. Awareness of a variety of methodologies help Strategic business analysts to quickly adapt and perform in changing environments.
Facilitation is the skill of moderating discussions and interactions within a group and enabling stakeholders to participate actively, make decisions, solve problems, exchange ideas etc. Being neutral and encouraging participation is necessary for effective facilitation.
Communication can be accomplished by means of verbal, non-verbal, physical and written methods. It becomes effective when the speaker and listener have the same level of understanding. A shared glossary with well-defined terms can help to avoid misunderstandings. An awareness of what the receiver knows, his background, expectations etc. will help to effectively plan communication styles and techniques. Effective communication benefits all stakeholders.
Speaker uses spoken words to convey Strategic business analysis information, ideas, concepts, facts and opinions to the receiver.
Non-verbal forms of communication like body movement, facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye contact etc. help to strengthen the communication as these cues are indicators of the feelings and intent of the communicator
Strategic business analysts use written forms of communication like text, symbols, models (formal or informal) and sketches to convey ideas, concepts, facts and opinions to stakeholders. It helps to convey a great deal of information provided the communicator has a good command over language.
Active listening involves giving the speaker complete attention and also interpreting and responding appropriately to what he is trying to communicate. It includes summarizing and repeating what was stated to ensure commonality in understanding.
Interaction skills are represented by Strategic business analyst’s ability to relate, cooperate and communicate with different stakeholders.
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
These skills involve mediating discussions between stakeholders and team members to resolve difference of opinions arising from different points of view and help them arrive at a common consensus.
Strategic business analysts use a variety of software applications for requirements documentation, development and management. This enhances communication and collaboration and increases overall productivity.
Office productivity Tools and Technology
These tools are used to document and track information and artifacts.
Word processing and presentation programs : Commonly used to develop, format, present and maintain documents. Limited capability to author collaboratively, track changes and record comments
Presentation Software : Creation of training material, presentation of information etc.
Spreadsheets – Supports decision analysis through logical and mathematical manipulations
Communication Tools (Email, instant messaging) – Facilitates long distance communication. Not effective for long-term storage of information.
Collaboration and Knowledge Management Tools : Capture unit wide knowledge and makes it available and accessible to the entire team
Hardware : Tools like printers, photocopiers, scanners allows for replication and distribution of information
Communication Tools and Technology : Allows Strategic business analysts to plan and complete tasks related to conversational and collaborative interactions with co-located as well as geographically dispersed stakeholders. Emails, instant messaging, voice communications etc. are examples of conversation interaction tools whereas document sharing, wikis, white boards etc. are examples of collaboration tools.
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