Posted by tac_admin, April 29, 2015

Expert Business Analyst Skills: The 6 W’s of Problem Solving

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Being an expert business analyst essentially means one thing: you solve problems.

This is the core idea behind how our industry serves our clients. A person with keen business analysis skills will look at a problem from multiple angles, and then use his or her arsenal of problem-solving techniques to create and implement the most transformational solution.

Yep. We’re kind of like super heroes in that way.

To expand your resources as a solution-centric BA, and to earn more respect and a higher salary, it’s important to learn new methods for approaching problems.

I often take “the 6 W’s” approach, which I like because it’s simple and sharpens our thinking patterns.

The next time you’re tasked with a tricky situation, and you can’t find that one, fix-everything-right-now answer, ask yourself these 6 questions.

WHAT is the core issue?

Unless extreme proactive measures have been put in place, the problem comes before the solution. That’s when you get called in, because after all, expert BAs are innately expert problem solvers.

When you identify the core problem, make a point to describe it in detail. Problems are rarely ever simple, so you’ll need to pinpoint various twists and turns, so that the solution proposal is comprehensive.

WHERE does the problem take its toll? 

The IT department?

Customer service?

The manager’s office?

Chances are that whatever problem you’re tasked to solve has gone unnoticed. This is because not every issue is an “umbrella problem” that directly impacts an entire organization. However, this problem most likely impacts other departments indirectly.

Address the direct problem first, and then the solution will trickle down.

WHO is impacted?

The customers?

The accounting department?

The phone reps?

Just as the WHERE question dictates, this problem often trickles down from one area to another. Only this time, the problem impacts people on an individual level, instead of a professional one.

WHY does the problem occur? 

Find the cause. Dig deep into the characteristics of the problem, and then you’ll see how to eliminate it.

WHICH routes are available?

Any good problem solver knows that there are many solutions, and if you’ve got that critical-thinking mindset, you’ll weigh the pros and cons.

Dive into the nitty-gritty of each solution, and think about risk mitigation. Is the blood worth the treasure? If yes, then move forward. 

WHEN should the problem be fixed? 

Believe it or not, the answer is not always “right this second.” In fact, sometimes you’ll have more pressing concerns to deal with. Prioritize the problem solving, and you’ll create a more worthwhile outcome for everyone involved.

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