by ASPE President David Mantica
The art of requirements elicitation revolves around stake holder engagement. How do you get those that need the tools and services you build to tell you what they want? As an experienced business analyst you most likely have your “own” methods. From begging to offering free lunch to yelling to asking the Jerry Maguire “help me help you,” I am sure you have tried a vast array of methods to gain stake holder attention and feedback. The thing is, ultimately, you have found your go to method that works.
Now a new challenge has arisen – a new generation of workers. The Millennials. On my travels speaking at IIBA chapters I’ve started opening the dialog around Millennials in the work place, and I think I hit upon a hornets nest. The “buzz” centers on how to work with millennials so they understand the need and value of communicating, and ultimately participate in the requirements process.
ASPE, Inc. Vice President of Marketing JT Moore and I did a web seminar about working with and managing Millennials. If you have some time please feel free to review the recorded presentation. The web seminar details what a Millennial is (someone born roughly between 1980 and 2000), what their primary characteristics are (pro and con), and strategies to manage, recruit and mentor this new generation of worker. This is a good foundation to support your growth to enable Millennial involvement in projects.
To get more specific though, there are characteristics of Millennials that will drive business analysts crazy, and will challenge your current engagement methods. I believe this fact is the center of the “pain” I hear when bringing up this topic.
One defining characteristic of this generation is their intense focus on work relevance. They want to understand why they are involved with something, and in some cases, want to believe in it before they allow themselves to get involved. Where one engagement method for a non-millennial might be, please help me get this done right because other generations find value in supporting others, the Millennial generation will have no interest in helping for helping sake. They will want to understand why you are engaging them and what they will get out of it.
A possible engagement technique will require explaining the project, the intended use, and why you need their feedback. But this technique requires extra work and puts the BA in a submissive role. The reality is this technique frustrates the heck out of older professional business analysts. Here is the kicker though: follow this technique and the support you get will most likely double what you get from the non-millennial. Why? Because another characteristic of a millennial is once they understand and believe in something, they work very hard to do it. Basically they get into their work and see it as an extension of themselves. In other words, when you instill understanding and belief, and you will get overwhelming support.
There is no silver bullet engagement method for eliciting support and feedback from this new generation of workers. The reality is you will, through trial and error, ultimately find a solution that fits your style and their characteristics. The point of this blog post is to make you aware of certain factors. Number one: you must be prepared to develop new engagement techniques to efficiently and effectively work with Milliennals; and number two: you must research what the defining characteristics are for these folks so you don’t blindly fumble, lose valuable time and set an initial negative image.
Good luck. If you read this and have tested some techniques, let us know what has and hasn’t worked for you.