As a business analyst who works with a lot of different project teams, one of the things I must do with each team is to build my credibility. I need to have the team trust me, believe in my deliverables, etc. And with each new team I work with, I must build my credibility with them. There are a lot of ways to build credibility, and it can take a long time to do. Unfortunately, it is a lot easier to destroy your credibility, especially if you are not careful.
Through the years, I have learned that one of the core things I can do to build credibility is to meet my commitments. What does it mean to meet commitments? It means that I will deliver when I say I’m going to deliver. And I can’t deliver just anything, I have to deliver what I promised and it has to be a good quality product.
Now, I understand life happens, and there are times when we can’t deliver when we promised that we would. It happens to me, I think it happens to everyone. What is important in times like these is to communicate that I will not be able to meet my original commitment day/time, here is why, and here is when I will deliver. This has to be done before the original commitment has been missed. It sounds simple enough; yet so many people do not do this.
Let me give you a real-life example. I was recently working as the lead BA on a project. I had a more junior resource working with me, and that resource was doing most of the work. I was on site with our customer most of the time, my partner was only onsite periodically. During the course of our 3 month project, we had one week where we held a lot of elicitation sessions with a wide range of end users. The sessions went great, and we were able to get a lot of wonderful information out of them. Of course, the week after was spent processing the information gained, including updating requirements models and writing requirements.
Where things took a turn for the worse is when I went on vacation. My partner was left to carry on, and one of our weekly commitments was to send out a status report. Unfortunately, my partner got so heads down in processing the information gained from the elicitation session, that no status report went out for a couple of weeks. In fact, we had very little to no communication with our customer while I was gone.
Thus once I returned, my customer was deeply concerned. They hadn’t heard from us, they had no idea of the status of our efforts, and as far as they were concerned we had not done a thing since the elicitation sessions. Of course, that was the furthest thing from the truth; but perception is what matters. Because we had not been in regular communication with them, it allowed them to think what they will. We had not delivered on our commitments. Our customer was right with regards to our status, because we had not shared anything with them.
We quickly corrected the lack of communication, and shared all of the work that had been completed. But recovering from that failed commitment took a lot of work. We started having daily meetings. We were constantly asked if we were on scheduled. When we made a commit for a new deliverable, we were questioned if we would really be able to deliver by that day. It took us almost 2 months to recover from 2 weeks.
So please learn from my mistakes. If you make commitments, keep them. If you need to reset your commitment, do so before you miss. It will save you a lot of pain and suffering.