All business analysts should be aware of the modern management philosophy regarding self-organising teams. This is where individuals are empowered to influence the decision-making process on a project and have the authority to change their workload as required. The reason this approach has become popular (not to mention effective) is mainly because it improves efficiency because the best person to judge where effort should be expended on tasks and activities is the person responsible for them. For this reason self-organising project teams tend the be better engaged and more motivated to make the project a success.
As a BA you could introduce the concept of self-organisation to the other people involved in the project; the start of a project is the perfect time to consider how current processes could be improved before everyone gets too caught up in the day-to-day pressures of executing a project.
A self-organising team needs to have regular reviews of all the processes and procedures to check they are still working for each particular project or task. If not they can be adjusted as necessary.
Regular team meetings are also important so that everyone can discuss whether the self-organisation approach is actually working – because, naturally, it requires individuals who will take responsibility for their own tasks. Not everyone is capable or willing to do this. But don’t expect this approach to all be plain sailing if you have never worked this way before – change is always difficult to accept initially. However, regular communication will help to solve any early teething problems.
Self-organisation is not the solution for all problems and things can go wrong in a self-organised team just as it can in any type of project. Failure is part of the learning process to improve the way things are done for the next project, and the next. So use any failures or mistakes as a learning exercise (most definitely not to apportion blame to an individual or group) and concentrate on the steps that will lead to a successful outcome for the project.
Any successful project team, whether taking the self-organising approach or not, relies on useful information being exchanged at the right time and amongst the right people. Therefore, an effective method needs to be in place for raising, prioritising and dealing with issues that arise not just at the early stages of the project but right throughout it’s lifecycle. Use whatever tools the team feel most comfortable with to ensure there is regular and transparent communication in place – and that doesn’t just mean emails and software apps but face to face contact and telephone calls too. Regular status meetings should be scheduled so that all members can update everyone else on what they are currently doing.
But remember that one of the keys of self-organisation is to trust individuals to make the right decisions and complete the right work on time by setting their own deadlines whilst understanding the overall project objectives. That way everyone can play to their own strengths yet take responsibility for the wider aims to ensure the project as a whole is completed successfully and efficiently.