Building a Human-Centric Approach with Retha De La Porte

Listen on your podcast player of choice:

In this conversation, Retha De La Porte and I explore building a human-centric approach as technology changes how organisations work and brings fear to the stakeholders around us.

Retha is a business analyst with Momentum Metropolitan. She is a caffeine-addicted CBAP who enjoys career mentoring, blogs on The BA Lab, and volunteers with the IIBA-South Africa Chapter.

Here are just a few of the highlights in this episode:

๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿป ๐Ÿ’ญ ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€โš•๏ธ "I was always dreaming of becoming a doctor. And then life happened." Retha never dreamed of being a business analyst but stumbled into it after dabbling in programming and project management. It wasn't until she became a business systems analyst that she found my passion and home. Now, Retha considers herself a proper business analyst and feels she can give back to the community.

๐ŸŽ ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ ๐ŸŒ ๐Ÿฆช "We are in such a special time. The world is our oyster." Retha discusses how business analysis has been around for a long time and will continue to evolve. She sees technology as making our lives easier and helping us make better decisions. Retha says the world changes every second, and we must adapt and grow to lead into the future.

๐Ÿ”จ ๐Ÿช› "If you have a specific problem, you will use a specific tool."  Retha sees a place for both full-stack and niche business analysts. She says specific problems require specific tools, so a specialist is needed for a particular task, while a generalist is helpful for projects requiring a little of every skill. Retha says it will be a choice for the individual to decide whether to be a generalist or a specialist BA.

๐Ÿงฑ ๐Ÿซฑ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿซฒ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿฅ‡ "Building trusting stakeholder relationships will differentiate you as an excellent business analyst." Retha reminds us that we need to remember that there are humans behind the computer, a human with feelings and fears. She says we must display human empathy as much as technology is essential. Retha believes we must begin questioning whether technology is the right solution or whether a human touch would be better.

๐Ÿ–ฅ๏ธ ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ  "Now you're just looking at a blank screen." Retha finds that collaborating and engaging with people online requires different skills than face-to-face meetings. She believes it essential to ensure people understand what you are saying without putting them on the spot. Retha reflects that remote work also offers opportunities for growth and strengthening our other senses.

 โŒ› "Your time is always scarce if you're a BA." A few last words on ways to blend continuous learning into our daily schedules.

Tune into the episode below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your podcast player of choice. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Business Change Academy skills development and career building business analysis courses.

The transcript of this episode can be read here.

  • [00:44] Retha's wake-up call from dreaming of being a Doctor to becoming a business analyst
  • [04:48] Appreciating that methodology and technology will drive the way we work
  • [09:32] Living in a special time where we can lead change to where we want it to be
  • [13:37] Having the choice between being a full-stack BA and a specialised BA
  • [21:49] Considering sustainability and social responsibility in our solutions 
  • [26:25] Benefits of running a business analysis community of practice
  • [33:01] Remote vs office, and finding strength and building muscle in the new normal
  • [37:38] Not expecting too much change in the day in the life of a BA in 3, 5, or 10 years
  • [40:59] How IP goes missing when we choose not to document what we're doing
  • [42:21] Making continuous learning and up-skilling a part of your day

What was your favourite quote or insight from this episode? Please let me know in the comments. ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

๐Ÿง  Add your brains to the  ๐Ÿ‘‰ Future Business Analyst survey.

Joe Newbert 0:00
Hey everyone is Joe. Welcome to another episode of the future business analyst podcast. My guest today is Retha De La Porte, a business analyst with momentum metropolitan. She has caffeine addicted a C bap, and also involved with mentoring, blogging on the BA lab and volunteers with the IBA South Africa chapter. Thank you for joining me today. Retha.

Retha De La Porte 0:27
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

Joe Newbert 0:31
It's nice to have you here. So the place I always start is at the beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in business analysis? What it was that gave you your kickstart?

Retha De La Porte 0:44
Okay, so I didn't, I think I'm one of many bas that didn't really dream of becoming a BA, as such. So I was, when I grew up, I was always dreaming of becoming a doctor. And then life happened. And then I didn't know what to do with my life and I was bouncing around. And I dabbled a little bit in programming, did a little database, then there was a need that came up for a solution. And I stepped up and I said, guys, here's the solution. And then I had a great manager that saw potential in me. And he appointed me as a project manager, I think at the age of 19, almost 20 at that time. And there was a lot of growth that happened in that role, but it was still not home. You know, it was it was nice, but it wasn't where I wanted to be. And then after a couple of years, I actually moved around a bit. I was in the logistics industry, by the way. I'm currently in finance. Okay, well, insurance rather. And they I ended up in my first business analyst role. So I love how they always put these little tags in front of business analysts. Like I was a CLC business analysts, and you get, you know, what is that? So basically, it means either the warehouse management systems or the logistics company. And this is where I really started as a business analyst, and they now progressed into more specialized role for business process management. Okay. Yeah, I think are also like, just agree that position, and look for some new opportunities. And that's when I approached momentum. And then again, people believing in me, I think that's a big, important part of my life, people that give me the opportunities, I didn't have any experience in the insurance industry, they took a chance on me, and gave me the position as a business systems analyst. And I spent a couple of years as a business systems analyst. And then last year, I changed the game. I'm a proper business analyst, whatever that may mean. So yeah, but I never plan on becoming a business analyst. I think I found my passion and have fun. My home. I think that's the important point, I feel where I'm comfortable. And I'm in this stage of my career, where I feel like I can give back to the younger generation feeling like I'm giving away my age. And I think I am but I'm in a position where I can give back to the community.

Joe Newbert 3:37
Yeah, that's fantastic. As you say, didn't dream of being a BA, but But now you're living the dream of being a BI.

Retha De La Porte 3:47
So the other day, we were at the RBAs, professional development day. And I think it was a staple that actually likened the BA practice to a doctor's practice. Like very similar, it's also a practice we also professionals, just because we're not doctors, doesn't mean we're not professionals.

Joe Newbert 4:09
Though, indeed. And that analogy comes up often it doesn't it you know, about sort of the general practitioner perhaps versus specialists and things like that. I mean, you've got quite a breadth of experience there. If you've done the programming work, you've done the database work, you've done sort of the systems analysis side, and now perhaps more on the pure business analysis sighs and you haven't given away your age, but I am hearing that you've got a wealth of experience in the professional, what kinds of changes have you seen over the years perhaps in a shift of focus of a BA?

Retha De La Porte 4:48
So I think when I started up, agile didn't really exist. Or if it did, or that I wasn't exposed to it, I didn't get any formal business and dialysis education until 2016. When I did my first course with FDR, and there was definitely the Agile way of work is definitely become a big way or an important part of the way we work and how we address what we do. I still think I'm one of those Bas, I believe Waterfall has a place, I will always have a place in the way we work. Agile is just a different way that we can trace the work. Definitely technology. It's a big drive right now with AI, chat DBT that is taking over. And I think since COVID, we had a massive evolution in the way we do things, the remote work and all of that we have become so much more technology driven than we used to, or at least my experience of yes, definitely is playing a much bigger role in how we do things.

Joe Newbert 6:04
Yeah, it does. You know, I mean, we've always worked in a technology space, because there's always a part of what we do always sort of lands up being some form of information technology solution. But I do I do feel like embracing of the tools that are now available into our own work has improved immensely, as you say, this evolution through through COVID is just accelerated people sort of embracing this stuff.

Retha De La Porte 6:33
No, definitely, I think. And I think it's going to carry on like that, I don't think we're going to see it slowing down anytime soon. I think at least for the foreseeable future, we're gonna see this acceleration. And we as bas will need to adapt to that, and keep up with that rapid rate of change. Otherwise, we're going to stay behind, we will have to upskill ourselves and stay ahead of the curve. Yeah,

Joe Newbert 7:03
we got to get better, faster, we got to stay in pace with this sort of change, as you say, we got to be able to adapt and respond. I mean, one of the questions that's coming up a lot is, you know, people saying, what's the threat to the business analyst through things like AI? What's your take on that?

Retha De La Porte 7:25
I don't think it's a threat at all, I think, looking back at the history of business analysis, I mean, it wasn't called Business Analysis back then. But I think, Socrates, that I like that term, they already did some form of problem solving, and business analysis. And we have, over time, just given a name, we have defined some processes and created a framework and all of that. And I think with AI and all of that, it's just going to, we're just got to evolve with it, the professional is going to evolve with AI, we're gonna make it's going to make our lives easier, we're going to maybe be better at decision making and all of that it's going to just make what we do easier, faster, better, but it's not going to be a threat for for the profession itself. No,

Joe Newbert 8:25
no. And, you know, at the same time, it's changing our profession, you know, the way we do things, perhaps, it's also changing everybody else's profession, you know, the people, we work alongside it, the organizations that we work within, so we're all in this together, right?

Retha De La Porte 8:42
And we will evolve and adapt. It's, the whole world is changing every second, and we will just adapt with it and grow with it. And as something dies off, something new will be born, there will always be something new for us to do as it evolves. And that's the good thing about it. Yeah. We just have to embrace it.

Joe Newbert 9:06
We have to embrace I mean, we're in we're in the profession of change. And the one thing that we can guarantee is change. And that change is coming more rapidly than ever before. I think we're going to have our hands very full. And we might not see exactly what these new ways of working these new opportunities are yet I think we can rest assured that they are going to be there for us and we're not going to be displaced by it.

Retha De La Porte 9:32
No, no, I did believe we will be I think right now. We are in such a special time as well. I think we the world is our oyster at this moment. We have so much that we can right now. We we are in the position where we can basically lead into the future where we want to be I don't know if that makes sense.

Joe Newbert 10:01
It does. I'm caught on that thing you said I thought it was a wonderful step and sentiment that we're actually in a very special time. I think you're absolutely right. What What a wonderful time to be be alive and be a BA.

Retha De La Porte 10:18
It is it is. I think we are like, in the beginning of change. And you know, there's so much possibility and we are right in the middle of it right now. And we can steer the future. I think that is what the word that I was looking for, as we can see into the future. We want to go where we see business analysis going.

Joe Newbert 10:39
Yeah, yeah, definitely something there for us to shape. But as much as it's not going to like displaces, I do imagine that we're going to have a few challenges along the way into the next few years. What sort of challenges do perhaps see,

Retha De La Porte 10:58
I do believe that change management, people will be scared of the change, I think we already see a little bit of pushback when it comes to solutions, that is AI driven machine learning and all of that people are not familiar, they don't trust the technology yet and all of that. So there will be pushback, as with any change, you will see people fighting, and then they will come to acceptance, and then it will start blooming again and we will carry forward. They think that opportunities will become like in this.

Joe Newbert 11:37
Yeah, I mean, back in the 1990s, when when it was quite fashionable to do sort of business process. reengineering, it got a bad reputation in the end, because of the number of people who were left off, who were retrenched laid off due to that kind of optimization that was happening. And so there is a bit of a bad stigma, perhaps still attached to it projects and change that there is a threat to people and jobs. And now with this technology, that that's almost more blatantly threatening some jobs is going to be a real fear for people. So I think you're absolutely right, we're gonna have to help manage that change.

Retha De La Porte 12:23
It scares people. And unfortunately, when you get kid, you're going to push back you're going to flattered. But I think again, the there is opportunity for each and every person to grow. And to make sure that they change with the changes, you know, if you if you're just gonna be stagnant, you can't be mad if you get left behind, if you if you don't step up and be part of the change.

Joe Newbert 12:50
Yeah. And change management is is another string to our bow. I mean, as bas we have many strings to our bow, it's a very broad set of skills. It's back to that that doctor that GP, that general practitioner, but on at the same time, there's a lot of specialized roles coming out, they've certainly emerged over the last few years, whether it's agile, or digital, or product or, you know, data or whatever those things are. Do you think we're at a bit of a crossroads in terms of being this sort of full stack BA, versus this sort of specialized in demand skill kind of BA.

Retha De La Porte 13:37
So I think I actually spoke about that over the weekend with one of my colleagues as well. And we spoke about having your full stack ba versus your specialized and I think there's a place for both, you're going to need a BA that's more generalized that can go any way and go quickly. And then you have the need for someone that's more specialized, that knows how to deepen knowledge of a specific subject that you can then call on to do specific tasks. I think there's a place for both in this world, it's the choice of the BA if he wants to be a generalist or a specialist BA. Yeah.

Joe Newbert 14:27
People have a career choice, isn't it? I think that's what it is. And I need to think carefully like you do with your career about which one of these two paths you're going to take and then choose the one that's going to be best for you into your future.

Retha De La Porte 14:42
Definitely, and I think the employees will choose, I think there's a need for both. I think if you have a specific problem, you're going to use a specific tool. I mean, you're not going to use a screwdriver instead of a hammer. So if you need a screwdriver, you will use a screwdriver to do the job. You know I'm just going to hammer it away, because that's not gonna give you the effect that you want. And I think it's going to be the same for a business analyst. If you have a specialist and you have a need for a specialist, you can appoint a specialist. But there's also the need for a BA that you can move from one position, especially if you have a project that demands a little bit of skill, not in depth skill, but a little bit of every skill. That is where you generalist VA, will bloom and will add the most value.

Joe Newbert 15:32
Yeah, I think the other thing is that you know, that their careers and careers are broken down into jobs into experiences into projects, you know, there's components that build up into a career. And so you could spend a bit of time going deep in one of these just for a little while not to become that 10,000 hour expert, but at least to get, you know, maybe a couple of 1000 hours in it, and then bring that back to the generalist profession and sort of stabilize yourself.

Retha De La Porte 16:00
Novocaine Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Joe Newbert 16:03
And I'm reminded of something that crystal Govender mentioned on one of the earlier episodes on the pod where we also sort of the, the idea of the GP and the specialist came up. One of the differences, of course, in the sort of medical profession is that that GP sends a letter to that specialist, you know, sort of gives you that access. And it'd be nice if you know, in getting these specialist skills to support whatever changes needed. If that came sort of via the BIA, I think that'd be a wonderful place to be it would put us in a point position, as far as business stakeholders are concerned.

Retha De La Porte 16:39
definitely agree. We will be consulting them just as your GP is consulting your specialist.

Joe Newbert 16:47
Yeah. You know, all the all this talk of technology. But there's also a human involved.

Retha De La Porte 16:56
Yes. And that is my passion. They don't call me the marshmallow in our team for no reason, right.

Joe Newbert 17:05
Okay. Yes. So I mean, we're gonna need a human centric approach. Still, I mean, you've talked about the fear that people have that anxiety, there's a lot of technology, it's a time for human empathy is it?

Retha De La Porte 17:19
It is, it's definitely I think, the more automated the world becomes, the more we need to be aware of the fact that there's a human behind that computer are usually think about how easy it is for, you know, those keyboard warriors on the keywords on Facebook, just, you know, saying the remarks, and they don't really care who they hurt or not. And I think, because we don't see the people on the other side, we tend to lose that sense of humanity. And I think that is very important. Because at the end of the day, the stakeholders, not just a stakeholder, it's a human, it's a human with feelings. It's a human with fears, it's, and there's always, you know, I love people, I love interacting with people and getting to know them. And I think it's such an important part of our job. As Bas, I think technology is it's important, but the relationships we build with our stakeholders is what will differentiate a good BA, with an excellent BA, that is the differentiation, your ability to build those trust relationships with your stakeholders?

Joe Newbert 18:37
Yeah, and soft skills are going to be in complete demand going forward. I mean, you're saying they, you know, it's important, I feel like it's not just important for projects and organizations. It's important for life, right? It sort of extends beyond all of that. And I would imagine, in future, there are going to be some choices, choices. Like we could automate this in some way some machine could do this, or a human could do this. And perhaps in the past, the decision has always been around cost or something like that, you know, into the long run. But we might have to start questioning some decisions and saying, Well, you know, that might be a better cost decision, but it's not a better social decision.

Retha De La Porte 19:32
Definitely, I think people are going to get to a point where they want to interact with a human and not with an AI bot. It's only so much, I mean, it's a machine it cannot offer real empathy. And we as humans, we can feel if someone is fake. So if you speak to an hour, but it's not going to give you the empathy that you sometimes need as a human So I definitely think that way, the answer was always, let's automate, we're going to get to a point where we'd say, is automation the right solution for this problem? Or do we want to put a real human up for the solution?

Joe Newbert 20:18
Yeah. I just think we're going to be facing that question. Far more than we've probably have done in the past, I don't think we've even really considered it in the past, have we, but it's sort of coming more to the fore now. Like,

Retha De La Porte 20:34
I even like the frustration of felted, quite recently, where I wanted to get into contact with a supplier, and you can't reach them, you can only send them messages. And but you cannot make a phone call saying you have to either chat with a tech bot or send an email, and the frustration that comes with an automated systems. it frustrated me up to the point where I said, I'm no longer dealing with a supplier, because I need to speak to a human. And I think we're gonna get to that when a lot more.

Joe Newbert 21:10
Yeah, yeah. It's definitely there. I mean, let's lift the lid on this a little bit more as well. I mean, the scenario that we perhaps just talked about was sort of inside of a project in an organization about making some kind of strategic decision around technology and sort of human but if we lift the lid on the organization, we think about the wider world. Do you do you see any kind of trend around organizations needing to do more about social responsibility about sustainability? That kind of thinking?

Retha De La Porte 21:49
Definitely, I think most companies are not there yet. And I think it's something that when we do consider our solutions, we need to be more aware. And I think that is also a trend that will pick up I think we at the start of it, but I think it's something that we as business analysts also need to consider a whole lot more when we It's like another tick box that we need to take, when we consider the solutions to make sure that we are socially responsible.

Joe Newbert 22:26
Yeah, I can definitely see that kind of requirement being more sort of inbuilt into our everyday thinking.

Retha De La Porte 22:34
Definitely, I definitely think, actually, I think we're not there yet. I think we like right at the beginning. But looking at where the world is going. I think this is something that we as bas really need to sharpen our skills on as well and just upskill a little bit make sure that we aren't poor, so that we are they when that requirement really becomes part of our job.

Joe Newbert 23:00
Yeah, I think, more thought around ethics, perhaps I don't know if ethics is quite the right word, but just ethical projects and ethical products.

Retha De La Porte 23:11
Yes, yeah, there's a I think there's a data. It's a whole can of worms that you kind of need to unpack and see. I guess it also depends on the industry that you're in, what exactly that will entail. But yeah, definitely, I think that is a subject on its own entirely.

Joe Newbert 23:34
And customer centricity is, is something that, you know, has had a lot of focus. And as we talk about this, you know, you say as Bas, and I'm also hearing as bas bas are obviously employees, right, they work for organizations. And with things like COVID and remote work. One of the things I feel is that people that are considering more often, what they want from life, who they want to work for, in what way they want to work, you know, the kinds of things that they do, and they want to work for ethical employers. Right. So as much as we talk about customer centricity, which which we absolutely must, I feel like there's there's perhaps a shift in the employee experience as well inside of organizations to see sort of shifts happening there.

Retha De La Porte 24:35
Definitely, I think we consider the companies that we work for and how it used to be a one sided type of interview, it has definitely become a two way conversation rather than a one sided conversation. So definitely a shift in the way it used to be.

Joe Newbert 24:59
Yeah, well, you As to be grateful to get a job. And now we're sort of questioning whether we want that

Retha De La Porte 25:05
job. Yeah. And if it's the right fit for us, I think it's a very good thing because it means we are putting more or placing more value in ourselves. And I think it does put the employees are a little bit on the backfoot. But also, then it forces them to also adjust and make sure that they create an environment where people want to excel, I think it is a more balanced approach than it was previously.

Joe Newbert 25:34
Yeah. And, you know, if an organization is aligned with our values around things like social responsibility and sustainability, then that becomes the kind of employ that we want to work for. It draws more people like us. And then we build that momentum inside with that sort of sustainability. Mindset, that social mindset. And it just perpetuates. Really, it does. Yeah. One of the things I know that you do is Community of Practice Center of Excellence, right. Wonderful things, I think it's great that you're doing that, once you tell me a little bit about how it sort of works, how it runs, the kind of things that you discuss in there.

Retha De La Porte 26:25
So we are still quite in the beginning of setting up the community of practice. So when are joined shared services, so I come from a protocol specific to momentum. So the setup there is quite different than working in shared services. And I don't know if you've ever been to momentums offices, but it's quite big. And you walk around people passing you and you would never know that they are business analyst, if you don't see them in a meeting and you hover over the little, you know, that little dot, and it says, this is a business analyst, and then you cannot remember the name, but you never see the face. And for me, it was really difficult to just find my spot in my little home in my new position. So this is where it actually started. I spoke to a few other Bas, by accident, met in different meetings that we had. And I said, Do you feel the same way in this document? Absolutely. I don't know who the next VA is. I don't know if I walk past you that you're a VA. And then I said, Okay, well, this needs to change. And then I got Amy fibroin, who also spoke at the PDD day. She's one of my colleagues. And I said to Okay, no, hold on, we need to do something about this. And so it started very organically, we had a meet up, where we got all the other Bas, who are interested, gotten together, and we just had a nice little chat, getting to know each other the names the faces. And we then have another big day coming up that we are arranging for the end of August, where we will be networking, the IBA will be there as well to represent them. And yeah, I think it's the start, it has to grow organically. It's not something you can force you can't force people. So we hoping to see a bigger turn art. Every time we do meet up. We really focus on leveraging from other Bas, in the community to build up into bold, strong community. So that's our focus. So we're getting there. It's a it's a very interesting learning school at the moment, but I'm enjoying it.

Joe Newbert 29:06
Yeah, it's a great opportunity to grow together.

Retha De La Porte 29:09
Yes, yeah. And I think we have to SBAS week, we always try and we're so focused in our own space that we forget, we have other bas that we can leverage from especially if we in a dispersed environment, like I currently am. You tend to forget about that.

Joe Newbert 29:29
Yeah. sight out of mind. You get to grow together and I you sort of in the center of excellence so you sort of dealing with the kind of issues that people are facing internally or do you have more of a like, how can we grow sort of future of BA kind of mindset for it?

Retha De La Porte 29:49
I think it's a little bit of both. I think internally we have our issues and then we are looking at like a mentorship Are we going to see how we can grow and groom? The current bas for the future? How can we, as VAs together, be prepared for the future of BI?

Joe Newbert 30:13
Yeah. And you mentioned dispersed there. i You just locally dispersed? Are you internationally dispersed?

Retha De La Porte 30:20
No, locally, we have a couple of offices, but even like, you know, the thing about silos, right? We all know, Carlos. And it's easy to fall into those silos. And we are trying to break that, with this community of practice, to say, like, we all face the same issues, I'd be the only BA in your little silo. But there's many silos and if we break down those barriers, we have a community that can stand together and like you can leverage from and learn from and have a go to person that can check you and where you can, you know, it's it's just that the whole thing about a community. It's like they say with when you raise a kid, yeah, it takes a village, this is the same, it takes a village. So yeah,

Joe Newbert 31:18
it takes a village to raise a BA. And, I mean, you talked about silos, you talk about obviously being split in whatever product silos or you know, however, however it's done, but of course, with remote work as well, those silos have the mini silos, so it sort of snowballs the problem?

Retha De La Porte 31:41
It does, unfortunately, it does. And I think it's up to us, as business analysts to again, overcome that problem. We have to make use of the tools that we have, again, collaboration comes up, I think we really need to I think that is also a little bit of our leadership skills that need to come up in with a collaboration, you know, to break those silos down and to make people feel comfortable collaborating on a platform where you can't see each other, face to face. So it's definitely it's a skill.

Joe Newbert 32:23
Yeah. Leadership. And I think you've done a great job by being the leader and getting a few people and building this momentum and momentum. But yeah, and I think I think that's wonderful. And communication and collaboration, those two C's, so just come up time and time. Again, and, you know, making stakeholders feel seen and heard in a world where we're not seen or heard quite as often. Do you think remote is going to stay? Do you think sort of how it is now is sort of how it's going to continue?

Retha De La Porte 33:01
Unfortunately, yes, I don't foresee a big change, I think this is, this is going to be the way the future is going to be I think, I don't think we're ever going to be or get back into a space where we're going to be at the office in on a permanent basis. I think this is our new normal, that word has been used so many times. But unfortunately, it is what it is. And it is up to us to adapt again, and make sure that we get the best out of the situation. So get people to collaborate to still feel comfortable. You know, it's a different ballgame when you have a face to face meeting. And when you have an online meeting where people they don't have the cameras on they don't respond. And it takes a whole different skill. It's not like you can say pick up the stapler or someone sorry, that someone listen to you. So it is different because you have to interact with him differently. You have to engage differently.

Joe Newbert 34:09
Yeah, it is. I do a lot of online training. And I'll have a class with 12 people in it and there'll be 12 cameras off. And I'm doing this for eight hours a day, three days in a row. And it's almost like being blind, right? I imagine in a way. And so you then focus on the other skills that you do have the ones that are left, and I find that you know, those other things I wouldn't have had to have gotten as good at them. If I seen people because I can't see people then it's just meant that I've had to do other things and get better at those other things to get engagement. And it's hard but it's adapting as you say. So if if if you look back From this sort of pre COVID world to this word now, which we're going to assume is gonna go on, what what skills of yours do you think, have really sort of had the muscles work over the last while?

Retha De La Porte 35:11
Oh, gosh. So I think just the ability to, because like I say, the camera, sort of, you have to your other senses have to basically kick in, because you need to make sure so that the people you're speaking to are actually understanding what you are saying. So it is questioning people without feeling that they have been put on the spot. So it's definitely a whole, I haven't even actually thought about the different skills that are used because you kind of try and taste and see what works. And the difficult thing about is not every meeting, you have the same type of stakeholders. So it's getting to know your stakeholders at a completely different level than you used to because face to face, you could see if someone is not interested in what you're saying, or you could that you know, there was tell telltale signs to say, okay, this person, you've either lost him, he doesn't get what you're saying or he's not interested. He doesn't agree. But now you're just looking at a blank screen. And you're like, Hello, can you hear me? Am I still on mute? You know, like, Have I lost you there? So it does, it does definitely test you on a different level?

Joe Newbert 36:34
Yeah, it does. And I imagine, you know, well, I like to think when when you are then in that sort of face to face environment, again, you've you've actually got more superpowers now because if you were quite left biased to begin with, now, you've strengthened, you know, the right hand side to

Retha De La Porte 36:53
now definitely, I think, as difficult as it is, it's definitely a growth, like a different type of growth, that you can use it, it makes us even better in person, then we would pick up things that we would not normally pick up pre COVID. So it's, you know, that extra senses that you just make stronger. So it's good, and it's bad.

Joe Newbert 37:23
It's good, it's bad. But maybe let's stick with this theme. What would a day in the life look like for a BA, I don't know, three 510 years, you pick your timeframe.

Retha De La Porte 37:38
I don't think it will differ all that much from how we are doing it today. I think they might be like a difference here. And they in terms of how we do the things we do. But I think we we will still have what we do on a day to day basis, but our decision making would be more on data that already exists. So data analysis, we used to do all of that manually, we would not just consult either data analyst or data sets already depending on obviously your situation. virtual collaboration is going to be the it's going to stay the week just going to get better at it. Adult ceremonies I think that's also here to stay. I think we will adult will be with us for a long time. So I think it will evolve. I don't think I don't see us moving away from this very quickly. I think a big focus of our day to day activities will also be on digital transformation. continuous learning I think we all need to make a real effort to stay up to date with industry trends and emerging technologies. Yeah, I think other than that, it's pretty much the same i i would hope and I would like to see documentation a little bit of nowhere with Agile a lot of people just let all documentation go and to me that is it's actually a little bit heartbreaking because I do believe that there is a place for documentation. I read an article in the VA digest I think it was for quarter two where also touched on the subject as it not writing your documentation as like going and buying a recipe and I knew receiving the cake. It's it's a bit like they pay you for something and you just give them the cake. It's all nice and pretty but they can never go and bail or make that cake again because there's no recipe So I'm definitely not waterfall. I don't think there's a need for that. But even with a collaboration, we still need that documentation that underpins what we do.

Joe Newbert 40:14
Yeah. Just get the cake, I just want to get the cake and eat it. I think that's the phrase, isn't it? You know, but I mean, some of the couple of other ideas that have come up in previous episodes on the pod is obviously around there being a sort of organizational knowledge repository, you know, the DNA of the organization, like the flows, the rules, the structure, its entire architecture. And if I, or whatever else machine learning all of the augmented reality, all of the other stuff that has ever been invented yet, but that stuff's gonna need a bass. And as you say, if we're not documenting, there's no bass,

Retha De La Porte 40:59
bass. Exactly. I think there's a lot of IP that goes missing, when we don't document things. And it's important things that we lose by not. And like I say, we don't have to have a 50 page document. But even just knowledge sharing between the eyes, again, breaking those silos, that dependency that you have, by just having a set of documentation and help so much.

Joe Newbert 41:33
Yeah, I agree with you. I think I think it's critical. I also agree with you the right tool for the right job. I think sometimes there is a place for a more waterfall approach. I think there are projects that that suits and I think there are projects that that agile suits, as well. You I mean, you mentioned a few things in there, but one of them was continuous learning. And how do you blend that in? Personally, I've finding myself busier than ever, and almost the opportunity, I suppose I learned is a big part of how I do things. So it's sort of like integrated in my day. But like finding time, a block to learn is tricky. So how do you how do you fit learning into into your life?

Retha De La Porte 42:21
So your time is always a scarcity if you're a VA, but I also try and fit it into my day, as part of project. So when I need to upskill myself on something for a specific project, I kind of build that into my day, while I'm doing research on something, you know, you have to make it part of your day. Otherwise, if you're going to say, I'm going to put two hours aside to do learning a week, I can promise you, it'd be a you're never gonna get to it. It's just impossible. So yeah, I did. I did join webinars every now and then. If the time allows, read articles, I do a lot of research when I do my blogging, so that also it's like, kind of organically part of my learning while I'm writing the blog. So you have to find a way that fits into your lifestyle I guess.

Joe Newbert 43:22
They do. I just want to say thank you to you if building in this time in your day, to talk with us on the pod. It's been wonderful. lots to think about as always, and I'm sure some people will listen and get their moment of continuous learning. So thank you very much. Retha.

Retha De La Porte 43:42
Thank you, Joe. I really appreciate the time and opportunity.

Joe Newbert 43:46
Okay, I'll see you in Ba summit at the end of October.

Retha De La Porte 43:50
That's right. Yes, we'll see you then.

This episode is brought to you by Business Change AcademyBusiness Change Academy offer BCS accredited diploma programmes and IIBA-endorsed certificate courses that cover the full spectrum of business analysis. With modules that start foundational and expert-up to meet your needs at every stage of your business analyst career.

Get yourself some of the best business analysis training on the planet at BusinessChange.Academy. Not only will you receive 15% off your course bundle, but youโ€™ll also get a free BA Goodies #BAFF T-Shirt worth $25 with your first booking.

The Show Notes

Cool stuff mentioned on the show

๐Ÿ“ฐ BA Digest (Q2 2023)

โ›ฐ๏ธ BA Summit Southern Africa

(Affiliate links earn a commission from qualifying purchases which helps support this project at no additional cost to you.)

About Retha De La Porte

Retha De La Porte (/in/rethadelaporte/) is a Business Analyst at Metropolitan Momentum. She is a coffee addict and earned her CBAP certification in late 2020. Since then, Retha has mentored other BAs at different career stages and writes about various business analysis topics on her blog, The BA Lab. In addition, she volunteers for the IIBA South Africa Chapter, assisting with event planning and serving on the communications committee.

About Joe Newbert

Joe Newbert (/joenewbert) is is a consultant, a writer, a speaker, but above all, a teacher. As Chief Training Officer at Business Change Academy, he delivers some of the best business analysis training on the planet. He co-authored the original IIBAยฎ Business Analysis Competency Model and served as Non-Executive Director on the IIBAยฎ South Africa Strategy Board. Joe is Showrunner at the business analysis podcast network OneSixEight FM and Editor-In-Chief at the Inter-View Report. And he also writes in fits and starts on Newbert's Blog.


Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. Thatโ€™s how weโ€™re gonna be โ€” cool. Critical is fine, but if youโ€™re rude, weโ€™ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>