Building trust

A business analyst bridges the communication gap between different parties through precise communication and understanding. Part of this process requires the development of strong working relationships with clients, or more simply, client management skills.
Like any relationship, professional or personal, establishing trust, confidence and credibility is of the utmost importance. Here are a few of my suggestions:

  1. Set expectations. Make sure your clients understand the necessary inputs and outputs from the engagement. Make sure they understand their own role.
  2. It's all about execution. Do what you say you will do. Develop a plan and show your are executing against it. This improves your client's transparency into your activities as well as shows your accountabilities.
  3. Present the good and the bad. By nature a lot of us will 'sugar-coat' the bad things or make them small footnotes. Present the bad news and its impacts however, provide options, alternatives and recommendations.
  4. Be able to justify your work. Be prepared to run someone through your thought process. I remember one instance where I had prepared reporting showing assets under administration a few hundred million dollars short of the previous month. Naturally the lead accountant questioned my data. I walked him through the process of developing the report and after he saw the diligence and supporting numbers he agreed with my conclusion. Afterwards, he never questioned any of my work and was always satisfied with the results.
Whenever you are starting an engagement with new clients there is a feeling out process. This is your opportunity to set the stage and provide exceptional value-add service.

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