What do you do when you have a very large scope of analysis work but very little time to do it?
In this video, to talk to you about effective ways that you can cut corners in your analysis work to be able to hit certain deadlines if the schedule on your project is something that’s non-negotiable.
Hit Your Deadlines and Deliver a Solution Under Pressure
Scenario: You’re in a situation where your employer or your client has given you a project that requires a fairly large scope of work to be done. The timelines are severely condensed. You must have certain strategies up your sleeve to be able to deliver under those types of severe constraints on a project.
Clients / Customers
They originally expected to get a certain piece of scope. Now what you’re telling them is that the quality of that might not necessarily be exactly what they wanted to be or that there might be certain features that are completely missing.
The development team very unhappy because a lot of times deferring your work is basically telling the developers “I’m not going to give you the level of detail that you really need to build this thing, you’re going to need to make some assumptions and I’ll get you the details later on.”
Much of the overhead that you’re trying to reduce with your third strategy are things that your project manager wants you to be able to carry forward in order for them to reduce risk on a project or to handle some of the communication etc.
The employer will say “yes we know that we haven’t given you enough time to do this but we have no option but to get it done by this time. No ifs and’s or buts.”
Hopefully, you’re not in an environment where that is the norm, but this is the reality of the situation from time to time.
There are certain things that you can do as an analyst to be able to operate in that environment.
I’m going to offer you three different tips on things that you can do to be able to still deliver a good solution and good analysis work for a solution under severe time constraints.
3 Business Analyst Strategies for Delivering Under Pressure
You should know each one of these is going to make somebody on your project team unhappy.
You must have some sort of a contingency plan for making sure that you know how to deal with some of the blowbacks that might come from the different people that you’re making unhappy through these strategies that you’re implementing.
- Strategy one is descoping. This isn’t a mystery.
- Strategy two is deferring your analysis work into the future.
- Strategy three is to cut all analysis overhead.
If you’re given a large scope your first strategy is to try to remove as much of the capabilities and the functionality that’s within your power without completely making the solution useless.
Normally you’re given a scope statement. If you’re not given a scope statement you’re developing a scope statement.
Under severe time constraints, you have to be willing to say to your client, to your customer, to your project manager or anybody else on the team is that “we’re not going to tackle that part of it.”
A lot of this means that you have to have some very strong domain knowledge to be able to make that judgment call on the spot.
And if you’re challenged on that you have to be able to say “look I know that you guys can still get your work done if you don’t have this part of the solution, we’ll find some workaround for that right now.”
What we need to do is we need to deliver the core of this piece.
So you have to be very good at being able to have those types of conversations with the different players on your project.
Remember, you have to make sure that you’re dealing with the issues that pop up from these strategies that you’re implementing because every one of these strategies is going to make somebody unhappy.
Deferring Analysis Work
I’ll give you some examples of what you can do to be able to defer work into the future.
When you produce use cases or user stories
Let’s say for example in your analysis what you typically like to do is you like to write your use cases down to a very detailed level. You might be doing much more of the fully dressed use case style than the high-level user story or use case.
With this strategy, you have to make sure that you don’t go too far into the details. You give the dev team just enough information to be able to give them an idea of what needs to be done.
They’re going to have a lot of follow up questions. What you should do is defer a lot of those questions and say “look, I’m going to get your answers to these questions in the future. But what I need you to do right now is I need you to make some assumptions and tell me what those assumptions are as you’re doing the development work.”
This gives you the ability to defer a lot of your analysis work and still gives you something that you can hand over to the dev team to for them to actually start being able to do some of their parts.
Now again the developers are not going to be happy about this.
The consequences of deferring your analysis work into the future.
This strategy also has additional risk because if the developers make a lot of assumptions that don’t hold up in the future that means that there’s going to be reworked for your projects so you have to make sure that you keep your project manager in the loop.
If you’re following the strategy and letting the project manager know “hey look I’m asking the developers to make a lot of assumptions. A lot of their assumptions might not hold up which means that you’re going to have to have more development time available for them to do rework.”
Cutting Analysis Overhead
Anything that’s not oriented around making sure that you can deliver the analysis is stuff that you have to completely push out.
As an analyst, you’re usually doing the analysis work and you’re leading a lot of the analysis work, so here are some examples.
You have a daily meeting, a daily stand up meeting or let’s say you have two bi-weekly meetings or two weekly meetings. Let’s say that you have to attend to be able to just answer general questions or provide a regular status update.
You cut all of those. You declined them in your calendar and you tell people I’m not attending these meetings unless you have specific questions that you need me to answer.
You’re pulling more time from your calendar from other tasks that are non-core tasks into what you need to do.
Cut This Overhead
Project manager is not going to not going to be very happy about you skipping a lot of these meetings especially if it’s something that you know if it’s something that they do to build morale or if they’re saying that you know we need everybody in the team so we can kind of understand what’s going on. You have to take a stance and you have to protect your time to be able to perform the analysis work when you’re under severe conditions.
So that is one piece of overhead.
Cut This Overhead Too
Another piece of overhead that you can cut from some of your analysis work is the formalization of documents so if you’re producing your requirements and specification documents and you go through a formal process of validating them and getting them approved, what you need to tell the project managers is “hey, we’re not going to be able to follow this process and hit our deadlines”.
We need a quicker way. We need a more streamlined way to be able to get approvals for these or to get validations and approvals for these things without going through a full day validation session with the client.
If you’re spending a full day validating, you’re taking a full day away from the analysis work that you should be doing on another piece of the scope.
Anytime you’re under these conditions you have to be very firm with defending the time that you have to be able to do the analysis work that needs to get done.
So again this is only under severe conditions. It’s only under severe conditions that you would implement all three of these different strategies. You have to kind of play it by ear and you have to say “OK, well which one of these can I implement and still be able to deliver the scope of work in a short period of time.”
So you’ve got to really kind of gauge the political environment. You’ve got to gauge the different players and the types of pushback they’re going to have.
And you have to take a lot of things into account to figure out which ones of these strategies you’re going to pursue. But these are three possible opportunities that you can use to try to reduce the analysis overhead the scope or whatever you need to do to be able to deliver to a very very tight or very aggressive schedule.
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