As Business Analysts, we have all have been in situations where we are new to a project, don’t know who the subject matter experts (SMEs) are, and have no clue what systems or processes we will be working with. Once we decide to get started with business process analysis, we are faced with figuring out how to prepare for a business process modeling session and get the most information out of our stakeholders. It starts with the time that we invest to understand our stakeholders and their processes. Here is a summary of my pro-active approach to preparing for a successful business process modeling session.
Understand the Vision and Goals of the Project
Do you understand the vision and can you relay that information to your SMEs in a way your audience will comprehend? If you understand the “why,” you will not only have a better connection with the SMEs, but you will also be in position to make recommendations based on what you know. Use the following as a guide before your next meeting:
- Gain access to any pertinent documentation that provides insight to the project’s vision, goals, objective, and capabilities.
- Identify the current project state and future milestones.
- Comprehend the deficiencies of the current system and process, if applicable.
Create a Good Impression and Gain SME Buy-in
One of the biggest challenges is obtaining stakeholder buy-in. However, there is a proactive approach that can help you overcome this. I’ve found that stakeholders are more willing to contribute once they understand the benefit and purpose behind the requirements-gathering process. Here are some things to consider:
- Be prepared to explain the structure and objectives of the modeling session. Describe your role and how you can help them achieve the goals of the projects.
- Before the meeting, try to model what you think the process should look like. It does not need to be correct, but at least you will show that you invested time and you want to understand the process.
- When modeling, make sure to use a tool that is familiar to the SMEs and you know how it works. Check out this article for help getting you started with process analysis.
- Create a list of questions that will help you gain a better understanding of the process, identify challenges, and opportunities to improve the business process model.
Get to Know Your Stakeholder Before the Meeting
A good BA is one that is prepared and one that the SMEs can relate to. If we know ahead of time who the audience is and what they do, we will be in a much better position to collaborate with them. Here are some steps that you can take to gain a better understanding of your audience:
- Coordinate an introduction meeting to get to know your audience and start building a working relationship. Understand their objectives and who to contact with questions.
- Make sure you can recognize your clients. Use tools such as LinkedIn or the company directory to put faces to names.
In the end, your stakeholders will be more willing to collaborate with you when you show that you are interested in what they do, what they are trying to accomplish, and how you can help them get there. Consider that every modeling session is different than the previous, but the research and preparation that you perform prior to each session will increase the likelihood of success.