Meet James Neethling, Principal Consultant and 2017 BA Summit Presenter

James Neethling is a Principal Consultant and Business Consulting Competency Lead at Saratoga with over 18 years’ experience in business analysis. James will be presenting his talk ‘Designing Agile Business – 6 lessons from the trenches at the 2017 BA Summit in September.

Do you believe business analysts play a key role in an Agile team?

Absolutely. BA’s are trained to understand an organisation and in how to uncover the right information – critical skills needed to design and implement effective solutions. By being able to understand how the specific user stories contribute to the overall objectives, a BA can advise and motivate with the product owner and make sure the team is working on the highest business value. Ensuring that high-quality, ripened user stories are ready for the team can also dramatically increase the team’s velocity and make a significant contribution to the team’s success.

How can analysts improve their agility, resourcefulness and problem solving skills?

Developing these skills is a life-long pursuit and not specific to your professional career. One way to improve agility is by keeping the amount of ‘work-in-progress’ that you personally take on to a minimum. Researching personal productivity concepts and experimenting to find the techniques that work for you will make you effective in being able to confidently change direction and know what the impacts are.

Resourcefulness is a combination of tools, situational awareness and a healthy dose of ingenuity. Do you have an analyst toolbox of physical things (stationary, ‘cheat-sheets’, templates) and experience with using different techniques to be able to draw on?

Problem solving skills are a challenge to develop as you have to change the way that you approach a problem. Design thinking and systems thinking approaches are a great way to get some different ways of framing the problem to help with finding different solutions.

Why are events such as the BA Summit important in the development of business analysts and the business analysis profession as a whole?

Connecting with leaders in the industry allows us an opportunity to put our daily business aside and reminds us to refocus on our personal mastery. Getting to see how different people have approached a problem and the way that they have solved it challenges me to continue to explore different ways of looking at the work that we do.

It is also an opportunity to be reminded that ‘you are not alone’ and that some of the frustration that we face in our organisations are shared with many others in our community.

Personally though, being exposed to other leaders in the field inspires me with the creative and interesting work that our colleagues are involved with and the immense value that we do add to our teams and organisations.

Give us a preview of what you’ll be discussing in your talk at the BA Summit – ‘Designing Agile Business – 6 lessons from the trenches.’

As BAs, we are at the forefront of designing organisations through the business processes and solutions that we put in place.

We have a responsibility to help design our organisations to be more agile and more responsive to change. We’re the ones in the trenches, doing the heavy lifting and it is often difficult to see how we can positively improve the agility of the organisation.

Our colleagues in software engineering have bitten the bullet and revolutionised the way that they deliver software. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile. I’ll be applying some of the philosophies and principles that they developed to challenge the way that we traditionally design our processes.

All it takes is a constant stream of small optimisations to eventually lead to a leaner, more agile organisation. Join me to find out how you can optimise your project.

Connect with James Neethling and Saratoga on Twitter at @jamesn_busit and @SaratogaSA.