In my last blog, I described five types of personal online libraries you could create that would enhance your productivity while sitting alone at your desk. In today’s blog, I’m continuing with the productivity theme and outline four ways you can enhance your efficiency while working with others.
Meeting Batching: While attending meetings are certainly a required part of the job, as a Business Analyst (BA), your performance is ultimately judged on your ability to create meaningful and well written documents that clearly define a project’s scope, value to the organization, and/or business requirements. Therefore, it’s to your professional advantage to have blocks of time within your work schedule to get these documents written. The concept of meeting batching is to schedule all your meetings in clusters, within the same day or within the same parts of day, thus leaving you these blocks of time to get your work done.
When trying to write large documents there are two reasons why a large block of time (two to three hours) is preferable to than one hour here and one hour there. First, it provides you the opportunity to get deeply immersed within the task. This self-immersion, often called “being in the zone” facilitates times of raised awareness and, thus, hyper-productivity. Second, an hour between meetings is only really 30 to 45 minutes of work, because you must return to your desk, orient yourself to the task, begin working, then break yourself away from your work in time to prepare for the next meeting and physically travel to the conference room.
As an illustration of this concept, if in any given day you can plan all of your meetings in the afternoon, you have approximately three hours of uninterrupted work time, hopefully including a two hour hyper-productivity segment. If you have this same three hours of open time staggered throughout the day, you only have 90 – 135 minutes of actual heads-down worktime, with no opportunity for a hyper-productivity segment.
Middleman Minimization: Business Analysts often spend much of their time meeting with two groups separately, for example, business users and computer programmers, and then updating each group with the needs, issues and concerns of the other. For example, the BA may first meet with the business users, then meet with the programmers to describe the business user’s needs. This requires two meetings and only gives the programmers second-hand knowledge of the users’ wishes. If, as the BA, you meet with both groups at once, it allows the programmers to hear first-hand what the user wishes to have developed and allows you to have one meeting instead of two. This extra time can then be spent on more meaningful work, such as documenting user requirements.
Group Interviews: Often times when gathering the requirements for a new system or system upgrade, you must meet with multiple application users. A meeting with two or more of these business users at one time in a group meeting has various advantages. First and most obvious, it requires you to have fewer meetings because you are meeting with multiple people at once. Second, it facilitates dialog and brainstorming between the business users which may provide you with greater insights and higher quality requirements. Third, it may help you gain a higher degree of user buy-in to the requirements because needed functionality compromises made between users provides them with deeper insights as to why the compromises were needed.
Document Collaboration: From a logistics perspective, reviewing a document collaboratively online has many advantages over doing it asynchronously. When emailing a document to a business user, project stakeholder or other interested party, you must wait for their feedback before you can proceed. Then, you make the needed document changes, send it back to them and again wait for feedback and/or approval. If you review the document together, either in person or using collaborative software, you can make the needed document changes in real-time. This allows you to simultaneously, get user feedback, make the needed changes and gain approval in a single meeting.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.