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21 April 2008

BA Communications - context

(Click on image for a larger view)

This diagram considers the context of a business analyst and looks at the flow of their communications.

The arrows point in only one direction, which suggests who initiates the communications, nothow the communication flows in total. In fact most of the data should flow in towards the BA, who then analyses and interprets it.

BAs have a responsibility to both the Project Manager and the Sponsor. This can lead to conflict, especially when the BA is not privy to prioritisation discussions on cost, scope, time and quality. It can however be an opportunity to keep the PM honest and the Sponsor engaged.

BAs communicate to “I.T.” and to “The Business”. (My preferred language for this is that BAs communicate with both the solutions team and to the stakeholder and user groups.) The BA, like the PM is a communications hub for projects. This highlights two key points; make sure your communications are planned so that it can be as effective as possible, and make sure your messages are aligned with the PM.

BAs also communicate with QA, which can be both proactive QA processes and testing. Good quality management processes start early and the BA involvement in these should as well. Communication between QA and the BA is a fantastic opportunity to reduce risk, time and cost for projects.

Communications may be direct or via proxies. The effect of sending a message via a third party dilutes the effectiveness of communication. As a result, if your messages are going to be delivered by others you need to manage this dilution.

Conflicting or ambiguous messages may be transmitted, competing with the BA’s messages. If the PM sends out one message and the BA is sending out another message the receivers will be challenged to find the right meaning. Additionally the BA and PM need to be aligned in messages in order to ensure the appropriate socio/political agendas are managed.

Different messages have different priorities with the receiver. For example, a senior user will usually prioritise a message from the sponsor over a message from the BA or project team.