Juan-Pierre Nel Sage Intelligence

Business Analyst feedback with Juan-Pierre Nel

Juan-Pierre Nel (also known as JP to his friends and family, and now us!) is a Business Analyst at the multi-national technology organization, Sage. He’s involved in a large chunk of the business—from product requirement and feature planning, product analysis, project planning and documentation, all the way backlog management, user story creation and business translations. It’s safe to say that JP is a vital cog in the business who often acts as the golden thread—connecting multiple moving parts.

In the fourth edition in a series of blogs by BigTeam, we delve a little deeper into how frequently JP relies on both internal and external feedback in his Business Analyst role. We learn how it’s evolved since he started his career, how important it is for business success, and the types of questions he employs to get the feedback he needs from his colleagues.

Q1) Can you tell us a little bit about how your profession has changed/ evolved since you first started?

I haven’t been in the industry for a profound amount of time. However, the need for Business Analysts industry-wide has most certainly increased in an exponential fashion. As the industry is moving from a traditional waterfall, to modern agile development practices, the role of BA has most certainly been redefined. In Agile development, BA’s take on the role of Product-Owners and often Scrum Master.

Here’s a brief outline of Traditional vs Agile Business Analysts:

Traditional – Work 2-3 months in advance of the development team. Mainly the creation of scope, feature and requirement specification and documentation.

Agile – Must be much more receptive to changing requirements. Documentation and specification will be more high-level compared to the traditional approach. More intimate communication and collaboration across and with other teams such as development, marketing, product, etc. is warranted.

Q2) What role does the internal feedback process play (within your organization) or with your clients?  

Internal feedback is highly essential for Business Analysts. As they are the intermediary between business requirements and technical specifications, constant feedback is crucial in ensuring that business needs and user requirements are met.

For example, internal feedback ensures the following is achieved:

  • Costly rework/refactoring is identified.
  • Ensures the business and customer expectations are set and met
  • Heightened efficiencies are generated and followed through with.
  • The creation of functional and non-functional requirements for the product.
  • A rich source of information for design consideration is collected.

And the list goes on. The important point here is that without internal feedback, it’s almost impossible to develop and release a working solution.

Q3) What type of expertise exists within your company? Is there any person or department that you wish you could tap into more?

Sage Intelligence consists of various departments, each of which employs individuals with diverse skills and knowledge domains. Below, I’ve listed some of the common expertise types within my organization that I often call on to help produce my plans for a product:

  • Leadership skills (from management/ directors).
  • Critical thinking (from various individuals to help formulate and dissect business requirements and business scope).
  • Tech savviness (from the developers and other Solution Designers).
  • A recognition of user needs and the translation of these into business requirements.
  • Problem solvers (especially when roadblocks occur).

Being able to tap into this expertise set that exists across the different departments and functions is vital in ensuring that a project is planned adequately, is executed smoothly and successfully, and tracked flawlessly.

Q4) What are your favorite questions you use to gather information (from internal colleagues or clients) before you start preparing a project or strategy?

There are six key questions I need to know and get full feedback on before I can even start thinking about planning a project or solution. These are:

  1. What is the expected outcome of the project?
  2. What is the Minimal Viable Product for the project (the least acceptable version of the product)?
  3. What is the time-frame of the project?
  4. How many resources will be allocated?
  5. What is the priority of this project with respect to other prioritized road-map items?
  6. What is the objective of the project?

Once I’ve received, consumed and digested this feedback (which usually takes about a week or so) and I’m sure that it’s complete and agreed upon, then I can start committing dates, items and resources to the project. Without getting this feedback first, nothing can happen.

While internal feedback plays a vital role to most, if not all, professionals in their everyday work environment, it can sometimes represent the be-all-end-all for many a professional’s career. JP Nel is one of them. He relies heavily on the feedback he gains from his colleagues across the business to carry out his job and to execute on his deliverables—which he fervently pursues daily.

Keen to learn more about what JP does and how he gets on in his interesting, ever-evolving career of being a Business Analyst in the technology industry? You can follow him here on Twitter, and here on LinkedIn. Feel free to reach out to him with any questions you may have too! This is more than just a job to him, and so he’s always willing to help out wherever he can.

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