21-year-old Code for Cape Town alumni, Mandisa Dlubom joined Responsive Tech as an intern earlier this year and we’re so grateful that she did. We asked her a few questions and her answers reveal why she has been such a good fit and how having her with us has been more than mutually beneficial. What a woman!
A tech project is like an outdoor obstacle race. You can purchase all the right gear and you can meticulously plan to conquer each obstacle, but without one important factor you will fail to reach the summit.
What is the one thing that keeps you going when you are halfway up a mountain, face first in the mud, without any hope or energy left?
It’s your team members. Most tech projects are exactly the same. They start smoothly and with good planning like a mountain climb. However, soon
- the deadline approaches too quickly
- the scope/requirements change due to technical constraints that affect functionality
- business requirements change due to client requests
- change requests flood in from the backlog
- bugs surface due to time constraints… and the list goes on.
When things get tough, it’s the right relationships with the right people that cause you to complete the project successfully.
It sounds easy, right? Once a Business Analyst(BA for short) has got sign-off on the scope of work and made sure all the requirements are documented, then building relationships should be the least of their problems.
That’s not always the case. Sometimes building relationships is one of the most difficult aspects of being a great BA. A key reason for this is that many BA's prioritize the wrong relationships.
The big question:
What is the most important relationship to guide you through your obstacle race?
As a Project Manager your answer might be the client. But, as a BA, in order for you to accomplish each requirement in detail, your most important relationship would be: The development team.
This comment probably makes you think, “ Wait a sec, if the business signed-off on a specific requirement and it’s marked as a Must-Have then the developer’s have to work a miracle and implement the solution.” This isn’t fair. You can’t expect a developer to switch to “ Save the World” mentality and bring about a miracle because you expect one.
There’s a better way to do things that will win the development team over and help you reach the end of a project successfully. Instead of demanding certain solutions rather collaborate with the development team from the start of the project and work together to overcome the difficult requirements.
Here are 7 ways a Business Analyst can build relationships with their development team:
1. Close the gap
Adopt a consistent communication flow with the development team. This enables you to close the gap between the requirement spec and delivery.
Developers understand the possibilities of the technology and this makes them a valuable asset. Their knowledge will help you:
- Fill the gaps in the requirements spec and user stories
- Cover a broader technical spec
- Find out what’s possible and what’s not
- Detect issues in the planning phase
2. Keep it simple
When you are creating documentation for the developers avoid lengthy requirement documentation, rather use visuals or bullet points. Also don’t forget that everyone will appreciate it if you keep your meetings short and concise.
3. Make their lives easier
Explain how your approach would save development time. Try to show the development team that you can see things from their perspective and they will appreciate the effort.
Keep communicating throughout the project.
Make an effort to stay in contact and act fast when there are blockers and problems which need to be worked through as the project commences.
4. Listen and apply
Always be open to hearing the advice or solutions the development team has to share on a topic before you jump to conclusions. Remain flexible and adapt the designs and requirements to their valuable feedback.
It’s easy to leave development to the development team! Participate in daily standups to get a better understanding of the daily tasks and issues. You should try to constantly think of how and where you can help in order to increase productivity.
6. Show courage
Adopt the mindset that there is always a solution to every problem and embrace the challenge which each new task presents. Show courage and challenge developer’s thinking when they mention it’s impossible to accomplish the need.
7. Learn the language
You may have to learn some development terminology to better understand how to ask the right questions and get the necessary information required to action the task.
Follow a winning approach and adopt a teamwork mindset as you work with the development team. If you learn to prioritize this relationship, the obstacles will turn into fun activities and you will find you have a lifetime of friends and companions to help conquer the obstacle races (and tech projects) together.