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Analysis & Design

Ensuring clients’ success – what is it like to be an Analysis&Design specialist at Future Processing?

date: 9 November 2021
reading time: 17 min

Ever wondered what is it like to work in a software house, especially in a role of an Analysis&Design specialist? We asked four of our colleagues, Natalia – Lead Business Analyst, Krystyna – Lead UX Designer, Janek – Junior UX Designer, and Mateusz – Business Analyst to tell us something about their jobs.

Table of content

No matter if you are looking for a job-related inspiration or are simply keen to know how we work, we encourage you to read on!

What does your typical day look like?  

  • Natalia: In my role, it’s pretty difficult to have such a “typical day”. Depending on whether I work on a project with the FP (Future Processing) team, on an A&D project, or on presale, my challenges can vary a lot! Most often I work on A&D projects and on presale, meaning I do calls and workshops with clients, interviews with users, I review clients’ documents, do estimations with programmers, and plan future A&D projects. Every day is different, and this is cool!

  • Krystyna: Yeah, every day is really different. In my role as a UX designer, I merge the roles of a leader and a specialist. In terms of being a leader, I support people who work on projects within my team, I mentor them, react to all issues which may arise, no matter if they come from the clients or from the developers. Very often I work on projects as a part of a team. We deal with product discovery, where we gather clients’ objectives, needs of users and we define solutions, and with the longer ones, where we collaborate with developers.

    Every day is different because we work on different projects, but we also have some strategic tasks: we develop our offer, we deal with marketing, we plan projects and find people to work on them, we respond to presale questions. So, it is a very dynamic role – a great one, really.

  • Janek: When you are an A&D specialist, every day is different, but they all have things in common: I work in Scrum and in that framework, there are things that happen regularly and there are some that vary. Every day I collaborate with my leader, so I never feel I am alone: we speak about decisions, solutions, etc. We even find time to do a bit of small talk! My philosophy is to “slowly go ahead” and that’s what I do – every day I do my bit so that at the end of the week I feel I achieved what I should have achieved.

    On daily basis, I support business analytics in delivering specifications of projects and I always think about the end-user and the product.

  • Mateusz: A day as a Business Analyst can be very dynamic, because of the many duties I have. The thing I tend to do every morning is to have a cup of coffee and a meeting with my team. I then speak to programmers and testers on the current tasks, I try to answer the questions that need consultations with clients. Then I speak to clients to gather their expectations, discuss current issues, and show what we’ve done so far.

    At lunchtime, it’s always good to meet businesspeople, who like informal chats. We speak about the development of the company, about sales, and our strategic goals. Then I have a bit of time for my own work: editing notes from the meetings, checking out what our competitors do, etc.

How do you conduct meetings with clients?  

  • Natalia: When we get to know the client during the presale or when we start working on a discovery product, the most important thing for me is to convince the clients they are in good hands, that we have competencies to help them solve their problems. I try to do it by conducting conversation or asking questions so that the clients can see that we really know what we are doing. We continue doing so during workshops when we involve clients in more creative work.

  • Krystyna: If it’s the first call, where we need to understand what the clients want, we follow a certain routine, as we don’t want to forget about anything important. But we also have time to ask more specific questions to understand the clients better. We then prepare workshops, using tools that help us visualise what we want to achieve.

    The agenda of the workshop is always adjusted to the clients’ needs; we try to make as much as we can out of the time the clients give us. We want to be partners, we want to build relationships with clients, so interpersonal skills are very important here.

  • Janek: I would say every meeting depends on the relationship you have with the client. Apart from the business part of the meeting, an important aspect of it is the personal touch, so that our relationship is not purely business-like, but also human.

  • Mateusz: It really depends. The most important questions I try to ask myself before each meeting are:

    • Who should I ask my questions to: I want to know who the stakeholder is, whether I should consult an administrator, an end-user, or maybe someone from the board?
    • What should I ask about: no one likes meetings that bring nothing, but if the meeting facilitator does not have a clear goal, then the meeting can prove useless?
    • How should I ask my questions: knowing the “who” and the “what” allows me to establish the best form of a meeting?

In times of the pandemic, many meetings are happening online, making it much easier for everyone to participate in them. But very often it’s the direct contact and face-to-face meetings that make the communication process much easier.

We try to build a very human relationship with our clients – we want to be their partners. We invest our time and people so that our clients can be listed to, understood, and taken care of. It really makes analytics’ lives much easier.

What’s your favourite part of establishing the strategy? How do you generate creative ideas? 

  • Natalia: Most often I do it during workshops – we have many different techniques which we can choose from to create a workshop that will suit the clients’ needs. It may consist of developing a new idea for an app or figuring out how to streamline an existing one. We take advantage of the fact that we gather people from different teams and on different levels: managers, the board, technicians, marketing specialists, etc. Each of them can give us a new perspective and add value to what we are creating.

  • Krystyna: My favourite part is workshops: internal ones where we prepare agendas for the actual workshops and the workshops with clients, where we gather key stakeholders and give them tools to discuss their ideas in one place. It’s an exciting, very dynamic moment which I love.

  • Janek: I too love workshops – they are great. Those meetings are extremely important, I love talking to clients – talking in a very specific way. It’s a special type of conversation where both parties are really interested in it, and both want to achieve a certain goal. I love seeing that I achieved that goal!

  • Mateusz: Well, my work is not really about creating innovative solutions. An indispensable part of every analyst’s job is the description of the state of things within the company and the analysis of the business solutions that could be applied. But during meetings, we also have a bit of time for creativity. Modern business process modeling tools are very intuitive and widely available.

    One of my clients, after we discussed some processes, asked whether they could edit diagrams of the processes on their own. We did it, which was a variation of the role-playing technique, where the client was acting as a business analyst. The effect was very positive and accelerated the process of pre-analysis of a very complex project.

How do you approach new projects?  

  • Natalia: If possible, we start with workshops, after which we work internally – we write specifications, describe processes, UX designers create graphic projects. It’s great if we can give the team things to do for a sprint or two so that they can work without any delays or slowdowns. 

  • Janek: With excitement! It may sound cliché, but when you work at a software house every project is different – each of them poses new challenges, new problems, and there is always space to show spontaneity. A&D is a very interdisciplinary area, where every team member can use their knowledge and experience.

  • Krystyna: I start with finding the right person for the client so that the collaboration is most fruitful. I also think about making the most out of the skills we have in the team. It’s a bit like being a matchmaker, but in a business sense: you need to find the best team member for the client so that the project can be a success!

  • Mateusz: Enthusiastically and with curiosity. It’s one of the greatest advantages of working as a business analyst. Even when working with one client, there are always new needs and ideas, and the changes on the market call for changes within the solutions we provide.

At the moment I work in the electric power sector, and my clients are specialists within the field. When approaching a new project, I always get to know the technical side of it, get to know the subject we will be talking about. It helps a lot in conversation. It’s another advantage of my job – I studied technical subjects, and the theoretical knowledge helps me when working on IT.

Every new project starts with kick-off workshops, when we gather the most important information about the project, we identify our stakeholders and define their needs.

What are the most common challenges during A&D workshops?  

  • Natalia: A big challenge is when there is no decision-maker on a workshop – in such case, it’s difficult to get on with the process and it’s tricky to finalise each stage. Another challenge is too many people participating in a workshop – it happened we had over thirty participants! I think I don’t need to explain why this may be problematic…

    As both things happen, we now have a way of preventing them: before workshops, we send clients a list of people needed during workshops and at the beginning of each workshop, we establish who is the decision-maker.

  • Krystyna: The biggest challenge is the limited time the client may have: very often the workshops include people that are busy, like CEOs. Other challenges include complicated cases or unpredictable situations, like when during the workshop clients change their idea, or when the workshop is the first time all stakeholders meet in one place to discuss their project. We know how to react to those things; we have good experience with that.

  • Janek: For me the biggest challenge is the intensity of the workshops and the fact they can go differently from what we planned. During breaks clients rest, while we must react to what is happening. I sometimes feel that a ten-minute break for us is composed of two minutes of panic, two minutes to visit a toilet, and six minutes of addressing problems or challenges so that we can go ahead with the project. So, for me, the workshops are all about how to use your spontaneity and skills to go above what was planned. It’s all about being flexible.

  • Mateusz: In my opinion, analysts running the workshops should conduct them to make the clients leave their “comfort zone”. Clients often try to copy currently implemented processes, and the implementation of new IT systems is a good moment to reflect on whether there are areas that could be reorganised or done differently.

Should the client prepare something before the workshop? How does the workshop look like and what happens before? 

  • Natalia: First of all, we send the client an agenda and a list of people who should participate. This is how the clients know what we will be doing and know they need to find a person who, for example, knows the users’ feedback on the application. Preparing for workshops from the clients’ point of view is mainly about ensuring that the workshop will be attended by people who have the knowledge we need.

    Another important thing is to give us access to current systems and materials – in this case, we need to ensure we have enough time before the workshops to best approach clients’ needs.

    Apart from that, at A&D we work a lot before workshops – we plan exercises, we check whether we can achieve all goals within the timeframe we have. We prepare boards on MIRO when workshops are done online or flips/cards when workshops are offline. During the workshops, we try to do all we planned, but we sometimes have to do a small revolution.

  • Krystyna: If there is anything clients would like us to have before the meeting, it’s always very valuable for us and helps us prepare a better workshop. But often clients don’t have such materials, so we have tools which help us get all the information we need. We work on visuals – it’s an indispensable element, which allows us (and the clients) to understand better what kind of project we are approaching.

  • Janek: Before the workshop, we prepare an agenda – we want to work with the client, making sure we achieve what they want us to achieve. An important aspect is a relationship: workshops are usually taking place at the beginning of our process – before them we have some business meetings, but now it’s the time to get to know each other, to create a good atmosphere and build trust that will help with the project.

  • Mateusz: Each meeting with the client leads to getting to know each other and to better understating. If our time was unlimited, I would say that preparing for meetings on the client’s side is not needed. After all, if we fail to discuss or understand something, we will do it later. But every project has its own schedule and deadlines.

    Preparing for a meeting is often more important than the workshops. And it can take more time. I rarely see that a client, after receiving the agenda with a list of tasks we expect to perform, does not take our request seriously. On the contrary – involvement in the workshops even before they start makes the clients identify with us, and the time spent during the meeting is more effective.

How do you adjust competencies to the project? What are the most important competencies, how do people in your team develop and learn new skills? 

  • Krystyna: I always take into consideration clients’ needs and what they want. Then I ponder on the skills we have. If we have a workshop specialist, that person will be doing creative workshops; if we have a good specialist who knows how to support clients and lead the developers’ team, then that person will do it.

    We want people to grow – this is the leaders’ role. A leader should give people space to learn, allow them to shadow, then work together, and then do things on their own, with just a bit of supervision and feedback.

  • Mateusz: I work in a very diverse team of people with wide competencies. The process of acquiring competencies is based on exchanging knowledge and experience gained in various projects.

What was your biggest discovery or surprise when you started working as a part of the team at FP?

  • Janek: That all the things I ever thought of in terms of business are not true. And that the place I work at is simply great. At FP I am always treated as a human being: I know I am a specialist, but I never feel the hierarchy: I know that all the team is always behind me, and I can count on them. My role is an induvial one, but the effort we put in each project is the effort of the whole team. I never feel lost, I know I can always ask and that I will get an answer.

  • Mateusz: Let me speak about some specific examples. In one of the projects, I work at we provide solutions for enterprises from the Water-Sewage and Energy Sector. Before joining the project, I did not realise the scale of two problems that these companies are struggling with every day:

    • Water-Sewage: the sewage system leaks about 20% of pure, tested water. Solutions we implemented (based on Big Data) significantly reduced the time of detecting such leaks.

    • Energy: illegal electricity consumption is a very common, dangerous, and underestimated problem. It leads not only to measurable economic losses on the part of energy plants and housing communities – meaning all of us. It also causes a fire hazard in case such a hidden insert into the network is made improperly. Another aspect is also a threat to firemen – when they come to the rescue, they remove the voltage from the installation that is on fire. I do not have to explain how dangerous it is when the electricity continues to flow anyway.

In such cases, we meet the client’s needs: using algorithms based on machine learning that use measurement data of all end counters we try to indicate such suspicious behaviour.

What are the most important things to remember when being a part of an A&D team? How to become one, which competencies are crucial to join you?  

  • Natalia: I think you should be a curious person, keen to face new challenges. You should be a quick learner and be flexible, open, and communicative. It’s mostly around soft skills. Anything else? I think it’s worth knowing the language used by the clients.

  • Krystyna: It depends on the role, really. But I would say in all cases soft skills are extremely important: you need to know how to set up your goals, how to communicate, be assertive – you can’t succeed without that. Obviously, hard skills are as important: research, design, workshop building, but without soft skills, it is all really difficult.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role?

  • Krystyna: As a leader, I like when my team is happy and when they can develop their skills. As a specialist, I like taking care of users and their needs, even those that were not expressed directly. I like delivering solutions that are to clients’ satisfaction.

  • Janek: I like knowing that the time my leader invested in me is paying off: some time ago I had some troubles with being organised, now I know how to prioritise tasks. I like knowing someone can always help me. When it comes to projects, I love looking at the clients’ faces and seeing they are happy with what I did for them. It’s a nonverbal way of saying “well done”, and when I see it, I don’t need to hear it anymore.

Krystyna – Lead UX Designer

In everyday work, she connects the role of a specialist and a leader. As for UX, she makes sure that the designed solutions take into account the user’s needs. As a Lead, she is responsible for mentoring members of the AD Line and for maintaining high-quality standards.

Janek – Junior UX Designer

He develops digital products taking care of customers and their clients’ satisfaction. He designs user experience in terms of accessibility, usability, and good practices.

Natalia – Lead Business Analyst

Her favorite form of cooperation with the client is workshops. She likes exploring new domains and knowing how does the world work.

Mateusz – Business Analyst

Supporting the process of digitization of the utility market by linking the IT world with the needs of business and end-users.

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