You are a BI analyst and you work with different departments in your organisation. I am sure that your manager has established a workflow and best practices to work with stakeholders, yet in reality things can go quite differently. What do I mean by that?
Your manager has been invited to a meeting where he/she finds himself/ herself collecting requirements for an analysis the business needs help with and then he/ she is passing the requirements to you and now you are expected to do an analysis to answer specific business questions.
Or you were in a 15 minutes kickoff meeting, the stakeholders talk about what (they think) they want and they throw the data at you and you are expected to build something by the end of the day or the week.
Or stakeholders just throw at you some data and they simply say “Please, see what you can find here. I expect something by the end of the day / week”.
These are some of the scenarios where you could find yourself in. Here is how you can demonstrate your leadership skills and turn things around.
7 Steps to embed in your work
- Clarify the context. Understanding is key. You need to understand what the stakeholder is trying to accomplish, why are they engaging you in the first place? What are they trying to solve?
- Set expectations. This is very important. Communicate with the stakeholder, ask how they like to work, how they prefer to communicate and explain how you also like to work. Also, when do they need this by? Set expectations on this too, is it achievable? For example, I explain I like to work in an iterative way and keep an open line of communication. I also like to summarize at the end of a meeting what I understood from the conversation and what the next steps will be. Then I send a nice written recap via email to make sure we are on the same page. The deadline: set up a target deadline together with the stakeholder and let them know asap if something changes.
- Do your research. Once you have clarified why they need your help and what they are trying to accomplish, take a step back and do your research. Even if you are an expert in your field, it is always good to go a little deeper and improve what you already know. Talk with some other people, use Google to find information, write down any additional question or anything useful you find.
- Iteration and communication. Being efficient is important and I find from my experience that working in an iterative way helps a lot. Sometimes I like to present a sketch on paper or a non polished version of my analysis. Keeping an open line of communication while working iteratively with the stakeholders really saves a lot of time.
- Go beyond the requirements. If you have done your research, spoken with many people and understood the problem well – maybe you can deliver more than the requirements. I always see the requirements as the minimum that you can do. There is always more and you can be proactive there and find out what else you can do to help that department or what other insight is hidden in that data.
- Work on your story, your findings. You do not want to throw a dashboard to someone. You want to present it nicely and explain in a clear simple way what you have discovered, what is relevant and why and what they can actually do about it. Why not be proactive also here and think about ideas? What is the worst they can happen? You will only have to lose if you do not try to go this extra step.
- Dashboard delivered and explained. What now? Well, this is where it all begins. You need to make sure that your dashboard is used and understood. You can monitor the usage in all the main BI platform and you want to schedule a follow up – maybe after one or two weeks – to ask the users to sit down and look at how are they using it. Can it be improved? Is it doing what it is intended to do in the real world? Is there something more you can add?
Please follow this blog series if you are interested to drill down more into each topic.
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