Join Haydn Thomas for an in-depth discussion in this video What are the best tools for a business analyst?, part of Insights from a Business Analyst.
The best tool a business analyst can use is silence. People find silence awkward so when they actually find silence, they actually fill it with noise. And really, that's what we're trying to do as a business analyst, is to get more information from people. So using this very simple tool that's available everywhere, is ask a question and shut up. Let the person really have the ability to provide the information. So that's the first thing.
The second thing is then making sure you actually listen to what they're saying. You're not pre-judging, you're not trying to jump to conclusions. You're trying to make sure that you're just gathering the right information. Because something that might have been said may not have been important to you as a listener but later on it'll actually be a very vital part of the overall solution. So try and listen to gather information, not to jump to solutions. The third one is, obviously, a whole heap of elicitation and facilitation techniques.
There's many different ways to gather information from people. Everything from observing them on the job, having one on one interviews, having the ability to actually do workshops and do many different ways of gathering information. So you being able to effectively facilitate is really important. The fourth thing that I really want to make sure that most people understand is the big picture. If I tell you to jump out the window, you're going to look at me strange. If I tell you you're going to jump out the window because there's a raging fire around the four walls and the only way you're going to survive is by going out that window.
You can start seeing now, people will focus and have a greater understanding of why you're doing things. When people understand why, they're actually going to share more with you because they understand the context that you're trying to frame the questionings in. So always go in with a little bit of information, showing them why you're doing it. Provide them the context, the bigger picture first before you start drilling down into the detail. It's amazing how quickly it puts people into a comfortable position and they actually understand why you're there. The last one I want to go with is take your meeting seriously.
Before you go to a meeting, make sure you have a proposed purpose. So, in other words, why are you there, and then an agenda, a road map on how you're going to get there. Why? People will actually find, when you go through an interview process or eliciting information, they will take you off on journeys that may not actually be where you want to go. By having an agenda, it gives you the ability to actually come back and use this structure, this road map, to be able to get you through the discussion and make sure that you actually achieve in gathering the information because, ultimately, that's what we're trying to do as a business analyst.
Get better information so that organizations can make better decisions and create more solutions and options for the organization.