Most of the time, most business analysts are exceptionally busy and can’t even think about adding another task to their task list. But every once in awhile, you find yourself in between projects or at a lull in a project where you can’t move forward until you receive input from a stakeholder. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a set of tasks you could draw from to stay busy, continue to add value to your organization, and even maybe move forward in your BA career?
Here’s a list of assignments you may want to consider and discuss with your manager:
#1 – Find efficiencies. Look for ways your organization can save money. You probably have the detailed business and system knowledge to propose many ideas on their own, but you also have relationships across the organization that you can use to vet your ideas. Collaborate with your manager to set a target for, say, reducing printing costs or saving energy and then head out to find solutions, implement changes, and measure the results.
#2 – Participate in sales activities. Is your organization focused on sales this year? Consider you help your sales team on calls with potential clients? Your detailed knowledge of your products and systems might just help seal a deal with a particularly challenging client and this experience will provide them with a new appreciation for the customer’s point of view. Read about how Kym Byron’s business analyst team supports sales activities.
#3 – Re-evaluate vendor contracts. Take this time to review the contracts you have in place with vendors, ensuring you are leveraging everything you are paying for or looking for ways to save money during the next renegotiation. Learn more about vendor selection practices from Susan Penny Brown.
#4 – Conduct ROI analysis on all new projects. If you don’t have a comprehensive system in place for evaluating new project opportunities, you’ll need one to inform the prioritization of your now limited technology dollars. Develop a program for predicting and measuring ROI.
#5 – Conduct a competitive analysis. This may be taken care of by another department, but if not it’s an interesting assignment for a BA. Take the time to really dig into the details of your competitor’s products and do a thorough comparison. You’ll leave this task with a host of new ideas to consider for your next project.
#6 – Define the business architecture. You want to do it but there never seems to be the time. Use this opportunity to fully define and evaluate your business architecture.
#7 – Conduct a current capabilities assessment. Do you have undocumented systems? This can be a huge liability. Conducting a full assessment of your current capabilities can make your existing technology assets more valuable in the eyes of a potential investor. You might also turn up new opportunities to leverage what you already have to cut costs or drive revenue. Good documentation and a shared understanding of system functionality will position you to more efficiently build on that functionality during your next project.
#8 – Document existing business processes. Are your current business processes documented? Have they been reviewed recently for opportunities to improve in efficiency or potential value adds for your customers? A downtime in new project work is an ideal time to re-evaluate how you run your business and a good BA can step up to this challenge, either by leading the project or facilitating many of the discussions around business processes.
#9 – Build an organization-wide project list. Think outside the typical technology project list and inventory all initiatives across departments. Build intelligible reports that show how these efforts are driving the business forward.
#10 – Improve your BA process. A lull in project work is the perfect time to create or update a requirements template, create a tips list, or evaluate a part of your business analysis process that doesn’t seem to be working well.
A lull is a perfect time to show how you can go above and beyond to add value to your organization. Propose one or more of these ideas to your manager and discuss how you can best serve the current organizational focus. Or, just start working on the idea and see if it sticks.