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20 April 2008

BA Communications - the risk factors

The next dimension I want to have a look at BA communications from is risk.

If we wanted to place a generic risk onto the risk register it might go like this:

There is a risk that the BA may be ineffectual in their communication activities across the project resulting in:
  • A poor understanding of the requirements by the solutions team,
  • Misunderstandings and inappropriate expectations from stakeholders and user groups,
  • A misalignment in vision about the project within the project team,
  • Politics overcoming rational decision making in relation to the project and
  • The project failing to meet it’s objectives.
The impact of this risk, if it were to eventuate is devastating for the project, and those involved in it. The likelihood of this risk is up to you, the analyst on the project.

Drilling into this further we can identify key risk areas that you can be aware of in order to minimise this risk to your project.

Firstly, know your team mates. As the Business analyst your team mates sit in both the business environment and in the solutions space. You need to get to know them so that you can most effectively communicate with them.

A shared or mutually understood culture fills in a lot of gaps that otherwise present opportunities for misunderstanding. Knowing them helps you understand them and align the way you communicate to their needs and expectations.

Secondly, make sure you get some face to face time with everyone you interact with. We’ve heard about the increasing degrees of efficiency in communication as you scale up from written to face to face communications. (If you haven’t, read this.)

Seeing someone face to face also brings you closer together as people. You are more likely to be positive in your interactions in the future.

Next, ask people what they expect from you in your role, to help clarify everybody’s expectations. Maybe follow this up with a presentation on your role in the team and how you’ll be contributing.

There are a couple of proactive management activities you should also undertake when planning your communications. Obviously I’ll encourage you to create a written plan and share it with your PM, who should integrate it into their Project Communications Plan. To do this effectively you should identify who will be stakeholders, decision makers and reviewers to the documents and artefacts you create and manage through the project process. The same goes for the end product your project team is creating.

So stakeholder analysis is a key part of BA communications activities.

And one of the steps in a stakeholder analysis for your communications plan is to understand the best mediums, frequencies and triggers for communications.

Picture by Splorp at Flickr