Question: Suppose you have a stakeholder with a business problem. She comes to you, the IT Business Analyst, because she wants you to solve the problem. By the way, she insists that a complicated process is the only solution to her problem and she wants you to implement that process. What do you do?
Weak answer: I work with the stakeholder to identify her requirements for her proposed solution. I draft the requirements and use cases, pass them by her to ensure that she approves, and then work with the IT department to implement her process.
Strong answer: I would want to get inside the mind of the stakeholder to better understand why she thinks that her complicated process is the best way to solve her problem. What is her personal pain point and how is her proposed process addressing that pain point? Next, I would communicate with her to show her why I believe that her process is unnecessarily complex. If the process is duplicative, I would show her how her process is duplicated in other places. If there are steps that could be cut out, I point them out to her and evaluate her response. If there are other processes or technologies I am aware of that would resolve her problem, I point those out too. And if I can come up with specific scenarios about how the complexity of her process might cause it to fail under certain circumstances, I would communicate that to her. Hopefully we can agree to a simplified process that totally addresses her pain points and that can be implemented more efficiently and more cost effectively.
Analysis: Business stakeholders often think they have the answer to their problems, but may be lacking in perspective or experience in resolving them. They are usually not analysts, so they may have difficulty seeing the “big picture” or understanding how a simpler process could be better than a more complex one. They need your help to do that for them, that’s one of the reasons you are there. You should apply your analytical reasoning skills to gently “poke holes” in what they’re thinking and provide them with a better way forward. If that way forward would take less time or cost less money to implement, that is something to definitely point out as the business always wants things as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
How would you answer this interview question, and why? Leave your answer in the comments!