As a Business Analyst, the speed and effectiveness by which you can create documents, send emails, create presentations and research new topics has a direct relationship to your overall work performance.
The reason is that the less time you spend sitting and writing, the more time you can spend collecting user requirements, meeting with senior management, working with the programmers and testers, and performing other job related tasks.
Creating the five online libraries listed below can help you maximize your productivity by accelerating your document creation. This in turn, frees up your time to perform other meaningful activities. The theory is to save everything you think may possibly be of use or reference at a future date and store it in a way that makes it easy to find. Becoming the master of cut and paste can dramatically enhance your efficiency at building new documents, because, over time, as your libraries grow in size, there will be less and less original text you need to write from scratch.
1. Create a Personal Document Library A Personal Document Library is an online folder containing virtually every document you have created at your current employer. I say current employer, because as an employee, the documents you create while at work belong to the company you work for, not you personally. Therefore, unless otherwise agreed to in writing, when you move from one company to another, you must leave behind all the documents you have created.
The reason for creating a personal library of previously written documents is simply to maximize your ability to cut and paste material from your old documents to your new ones. By placing them all in one place and giving each document a descriptive file name, you can use the generic Windows Explorer “Find” function to locate the right document.
2. Create a Research Library This is one of my favorite tips. Create a folder named “Research Library”, or other appropriate name that you will recognize. Then, create folders within it based on the topics that are of interest to you. Lastly, as you come across documents related to these areas, simply copy them into the appropriate directory. Over time, you will find that you have amassed a large amount of quality content on each topic. I personally use this technique extensively. My company, Manager Mechanics, currently offers about twenty-five classes on various IT leadership and soft skills related topics. In addition to a folder containing the class materials, I also have a folder within my Research Library related to the class. Then, whenever I receive an email offering an interesting whitepaper, eBook or blog on the topic, I place it in my research folder. Then, as time allows, I read through the research folder with the goal of widening my knowledge on the topic so I can provide greater value to my students.
3. Create a Template Library A Template Library is an online folder containing “empty-ish” versions of the documents you use most. By “empty-ish”, I don’t mean simply the standard form that everyone in the company uses; it’s a step up from that. Namely, it includes all the base boilerplate content that you personally use in the majority of your documents. For example, in the “Risks” section of a project scope document you may always use the same text that the project must be properly funded, the business users must provide the time needed to get proper requirements, etc. You should include this text in your template. Why re-write it or re-find it. Simply leave it in your template.
4. Create an Email Template Library As you may expect, an Email Template Library is an online folder containing the boilerplate or slightly modifiable text of commonly written emails. As a Business Analyst, examples could be instructions related to a User Acceptance Test (UAT) or an introductory email in preparation for requirements gathering meetings. The beauty of an Email Template Library is the first time you write the email, it’s worth your while to spend extra time writing it, because you know you will be using it again.
5. Create a Presentation Library The presentations stored in this library can be any presentation containing a slide, format, topic or other attribute you find of value. For example, your company’s president may have given a presentation to the employees at the annual meeting. Within this presentation was a single slide that compared your company to its competition. This slide may be of use to you when developing a presentation for the marketing department related to a Big Data analysis project to which you have just been assigned. Having this slide in hand not only saves you from having to recreate the slide yourself, it also provides you with key information about your company’s competitors, thus saving you research time.
In closing, another added benefit of having the five libraries listed above is that as others learn of them, they will begin coming to you for documents they can use to enhance their productivity. Not only will all the other Business Analysts owe you a favor for your help, it also will help make you the department “go to person” within the group, which in time, can get you promoted.
In closing, pick the technologies you choose to learn wisely. Remember, while each new technology you learn does broaden your technical abilities, the time spent learning it creates an opportunity cost, thus, preventing you from doing other activities.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.