BAs without borders - opportunities in a remote-working world
By Vaughan Luckman, Principal Consultant at Redvespa Consultants Ltd
Have we just made location irrelevant for business analysts?
In New Zealand, as with many parts of the world, we have been in lockdown for the last eight weeks or so as COVID-19 has reared its ugly head. As a consulting BA my normal way of working would be to base myself on the client’s site during a project: a desk in their office, physical meetings, chats by the water cooler - and all those other ‘normal’ things that seem like such a distant memory!
But the world has changed. COVID-19 has shattered the misconception that remote working wasn't truly viable. Seen as an option for the ‘less committed’ in the past, or something that was available but wasn’t supported by technology or business practices, now remote working is here to stay. Just this week Twitter announced that employees can work from home ‘forever’ - a telling sign of the significant shift of thinking that has occured.
So what does this mean for us as BAs? What does it mean for companies looking to engage a BA in the future?
- Location just became irrelevant. Ultimately time zone is the only thing that will matter in the future. Why do I need to be in the same city as the company to do my work?
- Specialised skill sets will become more valuable. Under the old model, if there wasn’t a BA with the right experience in town, a company's options were limited (eg, experience with a particular ERP, knowledge of manufacturing or supply chain etc). But now? The catchment area for talent just got a whole lot bigger! So that unique skill you have may have just become more valuable.
This is, of course, easier said than done. We will need to dramatically adapt our ways of working to make remote delivery an ongoing success. How do we build trust remotely? How do we facilitate large groups? How do we stay up to date with all of the offline/water cooler conversations?
The great thing is that this is all acheivable. Having started a new project through the lockdown I found these to be surprisingly easy barriers to overcome:
- Building trust remotely? By focusing on delivering rapid value the trust barriers were torn down despite the distance. By winning my stakeholders over early with some proof that I was listening, and had the tools to help, any trust issues were removed going forward.
- Facilitating large groups? I approached this in two ways. Firstly, where possible I switched from running large group sessions to more focussed one-on-one interviews (which yielded positive results as the voices that don’t always speak up were heard loud and clear). Secondly, where the group voice was needed, this just required a little more prep to ensure a fast, focused session over video.
- Keep up to date with offline conversations? Microsoft Teams has become my equivalent of swivelling in the chair to keep up with a colleague. Chat tools now break down the formality of email and lets everyone connect on an even playing field.
Ultimately, the world of work is ready to operate in a new way. Remote working is here to stay.
It is time for our profession to challenge the status quo and embrace these new opportunities - are you ready for the challenge?
Vaughan Principal Consultant at Redvespa Consultants Limited based in Christchurch New Zealand.
Vaughan decribes himself as a self-starter who loves problem solving and making businesses the best they can be.
His background includes government, corporate, and SME environments.
As a Principal Consultant with Redvespa, his focus is to engage early and help you determine the right approach to solving your business problems.
Reach out for a chat to see what the new world of 'Business Analyst' looks like, and how we can partner going forward.
You reach out on LinkedIn.