Being a business analyst is a multifaceted role where you are working on a myriad of tasks on a daily basis. So, it’s not surprising that sometimes it can seem like you can’t tell the wood from the tree. When talking to a business analyst on a busy project, I am often told that ‘at the end of a workday, I feel like I have achieved nothing’. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. Invisible work is an idea that is quickly frowned upon in the world, but it is something we are all guilty of doing. In this post, we look at the key blockers that can slow down your workflow and why working visually will help you overcome these blockers. By making your work visible, you can reduce the amount of time you waste in a day and be able to do the things you want to do.
There are 5 blockers that prevent you from doing your job:
1. Too much work going on:
This is where you have to do a lot of work on the flight, so instead of finishing one job and starting the next, you are constantly starting a new job. By doing this, you will not have the opportunity to finish things as many times as you want.
2. Unknown dependencies:
At work, we need to work with others and rely on them to help us achieve our goals. The dependencies aren’t really that surprising but I find that when I get to the end of the project a nasty surprise pops up.
3. Unplanned work:
The work that comes from the left field, it usually comes from your senior management or stakeholders. I found out when I started work and I made a perfect to-do list which is when I get an email where I will be asked to do an urgent task. This will cause my to-do list to go out of the window.
4. Conflicting priorities:
As business analysts we are accustomed to conflicting priorities in our daily lives but that doesn’t mean it won’t affect our workflow. Dealing with conflicting priorities means you can use your stakeholder involvement skill set.
5. Waste Work:
We all want to think that what we do is being used. There is nothing more frustrating than to find out that the slide deck you worked so hard for was not used by your manager.
So, why make the work visible
Not available nearby but people think of images instead of text. The reason they do is that information is easier to understand and digest in a graphical format than something like a report. There are also studies that claim that a person’s brain is wired in such a way that it recognizes and deconstructs visual information more effectively than text.
The great thing about working visually is that it shows you where your pain points and gaps are in your daily work life. Only when you see the problems will you be able to create solutions to overcome them. More powerful to see your problem presented to you instead of a spreadsheet or slide deck.
One of the main reasons I like to work visually is that I can decide how complex the tool I am going to use is. The easier it is to work visually, the better you don’t want to complicate things.
This is apparently a shining example of work. If you work in a technology field you will come across Philip Crouchten visibility grid. In this grid, we can see that things fall into four quadrants; There are visible and positive values, there are visible and negative values, adding invisible and positive values and invisible and there are negative values. Philip explains in his blog that the grid was designed to answer the question, “What is its real value?” The goal of this grid is to show technical architects to their product owners that the time spent working on things that are not actually visible adds value to the project.
I worked in teams, where we used this grid and added something to it, because we created a product. If you work in software development, I would recommend that you create an empty grid and start populating it, to show your stakeholders what you do and what value it adds to the end user.
Dominica DeGrandis states that the grid acquires four elements that are necessary to make a visual tool useful; Structure, usefulness, relevance, and honesty. You want to make it visually appealing when working visually (no one likes a messy board), accurate, meaningful and easy to digest.
Canboard is a brilliant tool used in multiple industries around the world. The beauty of Kanban Board is that it is easy to use and therefore easy to understand. With this tool, you can add tasks that you need to do in your backlog. When you start a task you move it to the ‘Doing’ column. Once the task is complete, it will be moved to ‘Done’. The key to remembering with this tool is to limit the number of jobs you have in progress, a puritan would argue that you should have one job at a time in this column. I don’t necessarily write that method, because I think some of your work may be ‘in progress’.
In our next post, I will go through the visual tools that you can use to show where your blockers are in your workflow.
# Visual # Waste