Exploring the Go-To Tools for Business Analysts

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Sonia Vaessler takes a good look at the go to tools for business analysts, by exploring the wide range of business analysis tools and technologies available.

Sonia Vaessler is dedicated and enthusiastic Senior Business Analyst at Britehouse, who has a hunger for knowledge and loves the search for the information she needs.

With 20+ years corporate experience in business management, programme management, solution delivery, analytics and leadership roles, Sonia is adept at ‘driving the vision,’ mobilising people, planning and leading the achievement of business goals and objectives.

Congratulations on your recent talk at the Business Analysis Summit Southern Africa, it was well received by many. For those who weren’t fortunate to attend, could you give us a synopsis of what your presentation was about?

As business analysts we all have our go-to tool, or favourite platform to use, and many business analysts work with a limited tool kit of elicitation techniques and best practices.

According to a fascinating infographic by Sirius Decisions,

… once a week a whopping 96% of people use general business applications such as Excel or PowerPoint, …

while on the other end of the spectrum only 15% use idea management applications such as User Voice.

By looking at the infographic you can tell there is clearly a preference for general business applications and agile oriented project management applications still. At 62% the Agile applications are fast gaining ground.

The topic is clearly an area that you are personally passionate about. Why do you feel this subject is relevant and important for the business analysis profession?

Business analysts utilise a wide range of technologies and tools in order to succeed at their job, and with so many tools out there to choose from it’s important to know which ones are more reliable.

Keeping a business afloat and also striving for growth and expansion requires you as the business analyst to come with techniques and systems that help you serve your customers without exceeding your budget and depleting your resources.

By knowing which products are out there we can teach our team which products are best, and benefit by knowing which technology won’t let you down.

During this session we explored collaboratively:

  • Preferred tools still in use by business analysts
  • Agile toolsets, including UX and UI
  • Apps – a few useful ones.
  • Analytics – essential for analysis.

Having shared your ideas with the business analysis community. What key points would you like people to take-away, reflect and act upon?

Business analysts use a variety of software applications to support communication and collaboration, create and maintain requirements artefacts, model concepts, track issues, and increase overall productivity. Universally, I asked the audience to make a choice, and stressed, thereafter, that

… peer learning will help you get to grips with and ascertain best practice for your tools.

And in making the selection the following considerations apply:

  • The situation: How much time? How much money? How good a job?
  • The ‘users’: Technical literacy, patience and decisiveness
  • The business analyst: personality, preferences, knowledge and experience

Business analysis summit spoiled in terms of the learning and networking opportunities. What was your greatest personal insight taken from the business analysis conference?

Some exciting session formats and special events coupled with the fantastic line-up of thought leaders made it hard to choose what to attend! I enjoyed having an interactive forum where the keynote speakers debated and discussed how best to rise to the challenges faced by their organisations today and in the future.

Two themes come to mind: the importance of shaping (solutions, projects, ideas, …) and the business analysts mission to leverage his knowledge and experience to help and guide enterprises to change.

The sketches were sheer genius in helping recall great points mentioned, and the conference concluded with a powerful closing address from Alex Noel – in short: an inspiring call to action.

Having been a first-time speaker at local business analysis events. What words of encouragement do you have for people who may be considering presenting in future?

The quality of your presentation is most directly related to the quality of your preparation. Rarely will you have difficulties in your presentation due to being over prepared.

Create an accurate, but inviting, description emphasising the relevance of the content to the audience.

Be engaging with your audience, by bringing interest and curiosity into the room. You don’t have to be an over-the-top enthused presenter, and by using these strategies, you can exude quiet engagement.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The conference was one of the highlights of my professional year. It’s a shame we can’t attend all sessions! They have all been very thought-provoking and insightful.

I loved the diversity of topics, exploring common issues and the collaborative spirit amongst the business analysts that attend.

This being my first time attending the BA Summit and having the privilege to be added onto the agenda – I have found it hugely beneficial and I will definitely endeavour to attend each year going forward. Every business analyst must experience this.

Go To Tools For Business Analysts with Sonia Vaessler

Download Sonia Vaessler‘s slide-deck from BA Summit SA 2016 to find out her recommended Go To Tools For Business Analysts. Let @SoniaVaessler and @Newbert know your go to tools for business analyst  over on Twitter.

About Joe Newbert

Joe is a consultant, a writer, a speaker and above all a teacher, who spends most of his time at the Business Change Academy helping people to grow their skills, bring meaningful change and see their career soar.

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