By Cathy Dew
In this blog series for business process analysis templates, we promised to we make this work Real. Real projects. Real stories. Real Results. Successfully maneuvering any Business Process Analysis project in large part relies on an ability to work with a variety of personalities – including yours.
There are lots of articles about traits and skill sets of business analysts:
But what about your customer?
You as the consultant have a personality of your own. As a BPA analyst, you no doubt understand how important successful interaction is to your job. As an individual you bring your own style and personality to the equation. You have probably figured out how to navigate a broad swath of inter-personal interaction scenarios. While you may be more (or less) outgoing, better or worse at small talk, introverted, extroverted, or good at finding solutions quickly – you have learned that your approach must be tuned to the personality of your customer.
Here at 2Plus2 we’ve had lots of opportunities to work with some amazing clients to deliver real game changing products and services. Clients span healthcare, higher education, consumer products, data service and smart technology. Each project has specific challenges and we have honed our skills with each engagement. Spanning large scale software initiatives for UC Berkeley to custom development of applications for the Port of LA to pricing tools for B2B, some patterns and profiles emerge.
Today we are going to explore ways to ensure successful outcomes across four typical types of cusomters that you may encounter. The traits and state of mind of your customer must be incorporated into your interaction.
#1 Did I just Become Redundant?!
Sometimes the implementation of new software can cause real fear for the individuals in the target department or service area. If this new system, process, or automation happens, then I may not be needed. For the Business Process Analyst, this can pose a real problem. The interviewee is literally afraid to tell you anything or give you information because they are concerned about losing their job. They usually don't say it flat out, but instead provide the shortest answer possible to your inquiries. They won’t expand on anything. In this case, you need to be more proactive with your approach.
Here are some tips to help:
- Be prepared to ask a lot of questions, which may include asking the same question a few different ways
- You must be okay walking away without a full picture
- Make sure you have a high-level idea of the process when you walk in. This allows you to poke around the problem a few different ways
- Don't be caught up with a sequential set of questions – you can bounce around and still get quite a bit of information
- Try some universally generic questions – what reports do you use? (everyone uses reports)
If you get more than a one-word answer, you're making progress with Personality Type #1.
#2 Did I Tell You About This Other Really Important Thing?
The other end of the spectrum is the interviewee that has a lot to say. Introducing Personality Type #2, you know him/her. This individual goes on to the nth degree, into the minutia and to a level of detail that you don't need. The discussion is probably energized and may even be entertaining. But you are not getting to the information that you do need. The challenge with this type of talker is to guide the discussion in a way that minimizes the extraneous information that is outside your focus area.
In this case, you need to invoke the art of interruption, in a respectful way. You might say "Wow, that’s great information. Today, though, I'm trying to get the big picture – we'll get into more detail later." At this point, remember where you are and proceed with your questions. This is a difficult interview but with finesse you can guide the discussion and learn.
#3 Seen It Before and Nothing is Going to Change
One of the realities of process improvement initiatives is that these are large-scale, broad reaching efforts that don’t always run smoothly, or contiguously. There may be false starts and failed attempts from multiple vendors with months or even years in between. And sometimes the same employee has been through this before. The big pitch, the consultants come in and at some point, the project fizzles and nothing changes.
The reality is that nothing comes of it. Personality Type #3 has done this many times and never sees any results or positive change. This one can be tricky, but there are ways to mitigate and sometimes overcome the disappointment and dissatisfaction that sits in the room.
- Right off the bat, let them vent, complain and rant – this is important and positions you as an ally
- The most important action with this interviewee is that you follow through on whatever your next steps are – don't promise the world, but whatever you do commit to, make sure it happens
- Be prepared before you walk in – if there is a history of previous attempts at the project you are attempting you should know it and acknowledge it
- Do your homework, be sure that you have obtained and reviewed any materials previously created and be ready to build on the work
This is a hard interview, but the reality is that if you can start with where things left of you can possibly re-engage the person.
#4 Yeah Team, Let’s Do This
Yes, it is true. You will encounter active participants who are happy to answer your questions and provide good information. And yes, this is a dream. You can learn a lot from this person, but in your enthusiasm for a great interaction, don't forget to guide the discussion. Use this interview to learn. With Personality Type #4 you can make mistakes and learn. In your excitement, don't forget to listen and learn.
You Are My Type
Regardless of who you are interviewing there are some important guidelines to keep in mind. Whatever the interviewee is doing, it is not wrong. Your job is to hear what they do and keep your emotions intact, even if they may be going off the sideways.
15 Tips for all types:
- Don't react
- Don't offer solutions
- Listen, you goal is to let them share as much as possible
- If you listen well you are building trust
- Set your interviewee up for success
- Try to be in their environment
- If you can observe them at work, that can be the best
- Make sure they are comfortable
- Ideally you are interacting one on one – leave the manager out of it
- Record if possible, but take notes in whatever way the works for you
- It can be helpful to have two people interviewing
- Keep meetings to an hour
- Be willing to let go of your agenda
- Remember, and remind them that this won't be your only data gathering session
- Try to get enough info to follow up smartly with email and phone
This I Know to be True
- The first interview is always the hardest – it does get easier
- If you've had a kickoff session, you kniow more than you think
- There is something to learn from everyone
You are now ready for a great data gathering session! Good luck. If you are interested in business process analysis processes, the experts at 2Plus2 can help.
Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.