Posted by tac_admin, July 30, 2014

Unrealistic Stakeholder Expectations: How to Deal

An open notebookProblem solving: that’s the foundational description of our work as business analysts. When it comes to surpassing all of our stakeholders’ expectations, we take the most thorough route.

So, what happens when a stakeholder’s expectations are completely nuts?

Simply put, business analysts get stressed to the max. Have you been there?

Trust me, I know the feeling. But, know that there are steps you can take to ease the pain. When you map out clear goals—and the action steps that coincide with them—you’ll calm the storm.

As the Analyst Coach, one of the most frequent problems my clients experience is conquering “impossible” solutions. The key to success is to take seemingly impossible business analysis goals and turn them into tangible solutions.

Here’s my advice:

See the big picture, and then build the stairway.

Sometimes the big picture feels unrealistic, but it really isn’t. When a goal seems impossible, it’s because you can’t clearly see the action steps it takes to get there.

Think of it this way: your stakeholders may be giving you an idea of the solution they want, but they aren’t giving you an exact blueprint. Your goal is to build a solution—not to follow orders.

Explain the big picture to your stakeholders. Create a robust solution that mirrors many of their needs that can be meet in an accomplishable way. Once you set that vision in stone, you can easily create a map of action steps that gets you there.

Seek the advice of other business analysts.

In a dog-eat-dog world, we’re often reluctant to seek counsel from others. As a business analyst, you have friends out there who are more than willing to lend a helping hand.

Especially if you’ve only been in the BA arena for a couple of years or so, a little guidance will take you a long way. In other words: don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Your colleagues will happily offer you their viewpoints on how to manage unrealistic stakeholder expectations.

Stifle unrealistic expectations during the interview process.

Think of the interview as setting the tone for your project. If your work were an opera, the interview process would be the overture.

The way to start off the right way is to ask a lot of questions. When you talk with stakeholders, make it a point to ask questions that get to the heart of the solution. In doing so, your stakeholder will see the vision in his head. He’ll begin to think about the solution in a more tangible and practical way.

The most effective way to manage your uphill climbs is to get hands-on experience. But how do you get experiential training without a time machine?

I’ve designed a new, 2-day course that does exactly that. It’s called Effective Communication and Requirements Elicitation Workshop.

Think of it as the anti-lecture course for business analysts.

I have nothing against lectures, but they don’t give you the complete experience you need to prepare for everything you’ll encounter as a successful BA.

Reserve Your Spot Here!


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