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2020: analysing my year

Better Business Analysis has now been up and running as a limited company for half a year! I have an accountant, a logo, and a website. 2020 has been a rollercoaster, particularly in the uncertainty that a global pandemic and an economic downturn bring. There have of course been numerous highs and lows along the way.

Unsurprisingly, the hardest challenge for a new BA consultancy in these challenging times has been securing clients! Many organisations have found it difficult to make firm plans for the future. Strategic decision-making has often taken a back-seat to tactical and short-term responses to events. For Better Business Analysis, this has meant numerous discussions with clients about potential change initiatives resulted in the answer “yes, but not yet”. There have definitely been times where I’ve asked myself if I should be persevering with consulting or just taking a contract role instead! Things are gradually improving, and clients are now working on building their “new normal”. It feels like the world is turning a corner as we head towards 2021, but there are definitely still big challenges ahead.

Having only learned this year how to build and manage a website, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that people have been enjoying my blog, and some actually found it useful! Receiving a kind message from a business analyst on the other side of the world brings a happy warmth to the soul that I did not see coming. I had imagined my efforts would largely be lost in the digital void, so it is hugely encouraging to receive such positive feedback – and even more so to see people actually subscribing for future updates!

The BA community has really risen to the challenges 2020 has brought, particularly in the area of working and connecting online.

IIBA UK has switched to online events and has run more than 30 of these in 2020. Dozens of great speakers have talked on a vast range of topics, from detailed discussions of BA techniques through to “softer” topics like Imposter Syndrome. One silver lining of the move to digital has been that these events can be attended by more people, regardless of geographic location. They are also often available to view after the live event. Many BA consultancy and training providers have also stepped up to provide more online content, with Blackmetric and AssistKD a couple of prominent examples.

I’ve been inspired to get more involved in supporting other business analysts, so have become a volunteer with IIBA’s South West branch. It’s been really inspiring to meet other volunteers and the team of directors. There’s so much energy and eagerness to help fellow BAs!

As a profession, we’ve had to adapt quickly to a world without flipcharts and marker pens. Business Analysts have relied for decades on fostering personal connections, and our soft skills have been as essential as our technical ones. Facilitating a workshop via Zoom is a very different experience to dealing with a room full of stakeholders.

We’re now working a world where we can no longer just pop around to someone’s desk to ask them a few questions. Observing processes in action is much more difficult! We’ve learned to use new tools (how did I get by before Miro?) and adopt techniques to make the most of our new online world. We have been (for want of a better word) “agile”. That said, I think most of us cannot wait to have some face-to-face interaction with our clients and stakeholders!

Next year, I plan to develop more materials for BAs and others involved in organisational change. There may even be YouTube content – if I can get past my horror of watching recordings of myself! Watch this space.

It’s still early days, but I’m also looking forward to a point where I can expand the team beyond just me! I would love to be able to write something next December that talks about “us” rather than “me”.

2020 has been a year that seemed to mock our attempts to make plans, and even our festive activities will now be curtailed or postponed. Most of us will be glad to see the back of the last 12 months! Events this year have tested our physical and emotional resilience – but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through connecting, collaborating and supporting, we will get through our current challenges and build better times together in 2021.

Have a safe and merry Christmas, and a brighter New Year!