How do you communicate with Business ?
It’s a Monday morning after a long weekend when you took Friday off to get out of the city , travelling across 3 states . You have to attend your cousin’s wedding, a family affair !! This results in no ‘allowed’ access to e-mails. Back to Monday (travelling early morning) – you fire your email application and you have some 300 + unread emails.
What will you do?
a) Sort them according to sender’s name?
b) Sort them according to ‘high importance’?
c) Take a deep breath and grab a cup of coffee.
d) Panicked and start replying in order you receive those emails.
This is like what my morning is, today. The troubled part was I have to again apply for a leave (long weekend) for coming Monday and Tuesday. A road trip to Badrinath, with family.
You may be wondering if I am having such a number of e-mails ,either I am not managing my clients / projects well, or I am keeping them aloof for the project status or they are not informed well in advance that I am taking some time off for myself. (In India , taking time for family is equal to taking time for yourself. Whereas I believe, there are 4 defined sections – work , family , friends and yourself , demanding their own time).
Just to justify my situation, my leave was planned and communicated beforehand (out of office also placed), project status always up to date. Such an alarming no of unread mails were because of few CC’s and a lot of system generated notifications. But still looking at the no, it does create a panic situation.
Regardless of your communication skills, it always comes down to your personality how you deal with such a situation. Some will reply back just saying “Done. Please check.” And some will draft a long blog like e-mail. We all will agree, inviting everyone concerned on a short conference call, probably with screen share is the quickest way to reach the solution .But is it reliable? (ah ! making MOM and wasting time again 😦 ) Next comes the Instant Messenger, IM (which often shows all stakeholders offline when you wish to talk and magically online just as you wish to go offline.) So the solution comes back to e-mail.
As a Business Analyst (BA), which mode of communication is preferred and reliable (!!)? From past few months I am working across so many cultures – American, British, German, Italian , Mexican , Middle East and Indians . Through the way they communicate (emails , IM and telephone calls) , the clear difference in styles made me believe it was due to the culture they inhibit. Later I closely observed within our Internal team , my manager always ping me to ask if it’s a good time to talk , if yes then please come to meeting room and on the other hand my team mates put everything on e-mails; CC manager . So is it the generation difference? Managers or the SME (subject matter expert) are more senior, experienced and are in more responsible positions, they need immediate responses. Whereas BA, the younger generation grow up with texting messages, find it reliable and follow the e-mail norm religiously.
In my CBAP (Certificate Business Analyst Professional) training workshop classes, my trainer told me “BA is 70% communication skills and 30% technical skills”. I fully agree. It’s the way we communicate that earns us fame along with bread and butter. So whether you choose e-mails, Instant messenger or telephonic calls , make your message crisp clear ,make sure the timing is right. Study stakeholders well (yes, this is the unsaid part of your job, accept it)to decide what they would prefer a e-mail or a short call.
In my opinion e-mail is the best way, marking all stakeholders to be on same page. It makes the documentation work easier too. And it will serve as a life line, if something goes wrong when anyone is on leave.
Coming back to leaves, I am working in IT industry and as most of you may have expected, my planned leave stands cancel. Sipping my coffee and a long to-do list , I am now deciding communication strategy – how to deal this with family?
Wish me luck.
- Disruptions: Life’s Too Short for So Much E-Mail (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst (project-pro.us)