Question: Can you tell us about a time in which you provided an idea for improving a business process and then successfully implemented the improvement?
As a billing analyst for a widget firm I would review bills where customers dispute their charges for the widgets they received. I would have to research each bill by accessing multiple spreadsheets of data. Then I would figure out why we billed the customer the way we did. This was time consuming and difficult because of having to look at data in multiple places. This led to delays in resolving the problem and more customer complaints.
One day I realized things would move faster if I just dumped all of the data into a single spreadsheet and refreshed it once a week from the multiple sheets. I created personal scripts to consolidate the data and created my own reports. I was able to handle more cases in the same amount of time. My customers stopped complaining.
One day I realized that the reason the process was slow was because I had to work with multiple spreadsheets of data. It would be faster if I could combine the data and then pull reports from the consolidated sheet. I documented the process to demonstrate how it was inefficient and to provide a comparison with the proposed change. Additionally, I also wrote down what the data needed to look like and how often it needs to be refreshed from the sources after the data gets consolidated in one place. I talked with my boss about the proposed change. He approved it not just for me but for my fellow billing analysts.
I created a template for the consolidated sheet and the scripts necessary to import the data. Then I saved the template to Sharepoint so that my colleagues could access it as well. I also wrote down what needed to be done to maintain the new sheet and pull reports as new Standard Operating Procedures. Once we rolled out this process to all of the analysts we saw an immediate improvement of 20% less time needed to research bills. We also saw a 10% increase in our customer satisfaction surveys.
With this question, the employer is probing to see how you have handled business process improvement, especially if you are coming from a non Business Analyst role. Here’s what the employer ideally wants to see:
1) Documentation of the current state. You can’t change the future if you don’t know what the present looks like. Your proposed change needs to be traceable to your current state to show that the change meets the needs of the current state along with implementing the desired improvement. The weak answer provided no documentation of this, while the strong answer did.
2) Gathering of requirements for your proposed target state. You need to adequately capture what you propose to change in written form. It’s not enough to just have it in your head and hope it works out. There was no documentation of requirements in the weak answer.
3) Obtaining stakeholder buy-in. Business is rarely a one-person show. You shouldn’t just go off the ranch and build something you think is suitable without getting the necessary approval from the people impacted most by your proposed change.
4) Implementing the change in a way that maximizes value. The strong answer showed how you implemented the change for all of the analysts, not just yourself. It also talked about creating a Standard Operating Procedure to allow people to use your better process even when you’re not around. This maximized the value you brought to the organization. The weak answer kept the benefits of the change to yourself, minimizing the amount of value it could add.
5) Measuring the result. You measure the success of a business process by way of results. A proposed improvement is worthless if you can’t somehow demonstrate solid results for the better. Having real metrics makes the perfect case for why the change produced good results.
If an interviewer asks you a question like this you may not be able to hit each of these five points using an example from your background. The more points you can hit, the better your answer will be.
How would you answer this Business Analyst interview question, and why? Leave your answer in the comments!