The graphic from a 2020 study shows that employers are looking for soft skills almost twice as much as hard skills. For Business Analysts (BAs), soft skills are about 85% of what they do in their careers. This does not diminish the importance of hard skills but people are critical to a project’s success. BAs are constantly communicating with people on every project. They need to be skilled communicators and collaborators, but their people skills are front and center as they need to anticipate how each person wants to receive the communication.
There are five skills that are most important for a BA to be an excellent communicator.
Listening is the foundation of communication. The BA needs to be a skilled listener to be successful with communication. You need to listen to understand and not to respond. Observe facial expressions and gestures in person. When you are virtual, you can listen closely to voice tones.
There are about 200 recognized elicitation techniques and only fifty techniques in the BABOK®. BAs need to use these techniques to obtain information to help solve a problem or transform a process or system for a business area, enterprise, or company. BAs need to be detectives or lawyers to uncover this information. Success at using these techniques requires BAs to know how to handle the stakeholders involved.
Top Elicitation Techniques
There are so many techniques, and most people only use the same four or five techniques. BAs are used to thinking outside the box with solutions and innovation, but they tend to be creatures of habit with the elicitation techniques they use. The top five techniques are
- Requirements Workshop
The BA being a great communicator and understanding elicitation techniques is not enough. They need to know how to manage stakeholders. The BA needs to know how much detail to give different stakeholders and how they want to receive it. The higher the position the stakeholder has, the higher the level of explanation they usually want. The end-users will wish to receive the most detail of all the stakeholders.
The BA Needs to Be a Leader
Being a leader is not about a position or a job title. The earlier a BA steps up to be a leader, the more successful their career will be. A Senior BA must be a leader, trainer, and mentor. The BA is in an even great position to be a leader than the CEO. The CEO’s time is not their own as they have to deal with direct reports, board of directors, vendors, community leaders, and stockholders (if a stock company). The BA deals directly with the people.
Are you in need of brushing up on these skills? Do the BAs you manage need to sharpen their skills? If so, they should check out one of Judy’s programs based on their experience level. Newer BAs will find Introduction to The Human Aspect of the BA Toolkit will start their career journey to becoming a Senior BA on the right path. More experienced BAs will find Mastering The Human Aspect of the BA Toolkit will take their soft skills to the next level and develop their leadership skills.