The Surprising Truth That Business Analysts Work in Sales

Report by

Adrian Reed is seeing the skill-set required by business analysts subtly shifting, and is realising the surprising truth business analysts work in sales.

Adrian Reed is a true advocate of the analysis profession, and, in his day job, he acts as Principal Consultant and Director at Blackmetric Business Solutions.

Adrian provides business analysis consultancy and training solutions to a range of clients in varying industries. Outside of work, he is President of the UK chapter of the IIBA and he speaks internationally on topics relating to business analysis and business change.

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?

Sure! My presentation starts with the premises that sales is a crucial part of the business analyst role, and that

… Business Analysts can ‘’borrow’’ tools and techniques from the world of sales and weave these into our analysis work.

This might, initially, sound like quite an unusual message. Yet so often as BAs we find that our role isn’t fully understood or appreciated, and people don’t understand when and how we can help them. That is where ‘selling’ comes in –

… RETAINING A LASER-LIKE FOCUS ON THE OUTCOME THAT OUR STAKEHOLDERS DESIRE AND ALIGNING (AND COMMUNICATING) WHAT WE DO IN TERMS OF THAT DESIRED VALUE.

We need to talk about the “Why” of analysis as well as the “What”, and there are a range of techniques that help us do that.

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?

Look into any large organisation and you’ll find the remnants of many projects failures.

TOO MANY PROJECTS ARE WRESTLED-IN, PUSHED “OVER THE LINE” AND CELEBRATED AS THEY DELIVERED ON TIME AND ON BUDGET. YET, LESS OFTEN DO OUR ORGANISATIONS ASK WHETHER PROJECTS ARE ON VALUE AND ON STRATEGY.

Good business analysis creates this alignment, reduces risk and ensures that we do the right projects to start with. With such a clear value proposition, you’d expect that every executive would want to work closely with a business analyst as their trudged advisor. Yet, analysis is often a hard discipline to explain. And so a brick wall of misunderstanding emerges–our stakeholders just want to “get moving” and may see us as a hindrance. They succumb to the sickly-sweet illusion of progress that a knee-jerk reaction can give.

AS ANALYSTS AND BUSINESS STRATEGISTS WE NEED TO ELEVATE UNDERSTANDING SO THAT WE CAN DO MORE VALUABLE WORK WITH OUR STAKEHOLDERS AND CLIENTS.

Sales is a key part of this. It’s crucial, as a global community of business analysts that we break down that brick wall of understanding. Brick, by brick. Layer, by layer.

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

We work in a complex landscape with many potential ‘competitors’ who may be looking to undertake analysis work, yet we could re-frame this and look for collaborations. Looking at the collaborative intersections between disciplines allows us to ask “as a Cross-functional, self-organising team, how can we best get this delivered for our customers?”.

SELLING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A ‘DIRTY WORD’. IN OUR CONTEXT IT IS ABOUT UNAPOLOGETICALLY EXPRESSING AND COMMUNICATING NOT JUST WHAT WE DO BUT WHY WE DO IT AND THE VALUE IT ADDS.

A humble ‘features and benefits’ table is a great way to start. This helps us think about the benefits and outcomes that our deliverables bring.

Now that you’ve had time to better absorb Inter-View Volume II, what are your thoughts on this initiative and the value it adds to the business analysis profession?

Inter-View is a great initiative, it helps give a picture of the business analysis community’s maturity, and the common challenges that we face.

INTER-VIEW IS AN EXTREMELY USEFUL RESOURCE WITH GLOBAL REACH. AND THE FACT THAT IT IS GIVEN AWAY FREE, AS A GIFT TO THE COMMUNITY, IS AWESOME.

Thank you for creating it!

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

Commitment to action. It is very easy to go to conference, learn and network, but revert back to the status quo when returning back to work. Several speakers highlighted the importance of doing and changing. It is scary because it involves doing new things. Taking calculated risks. But it is those risks, and that uncomfortable feeling that help us create valuable and sustainable change.

If I’m not mistaken, this was your first experience of South African business analysis. What impressions do you leave with of the local business analyst community?

Innovative, entrepreneurial, friendly and ready to take on the challenge. I met so many inspirational people working on awesome projects. It is a great community and I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to visit.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Please invite me back. Soon. 🙂

Avatar
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.

Leave a comment