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As a project manager we recently hired a business analyst to cover requirements gathering and creating user stories to help the dev team.

After the second week there was a negative feedback from different team members claiming that the requirements are not clear and they get bombarded with meetings that create noise without adding value to the team.

To add to that, BA has committed features to the business without consulting the dev team which put them in an awkward situation.

Now the question is, how to measure the success of a BA role? Who would be the best to contact to build a collaborative feedback?

Should the BA be unable to adapt and continue producing negative productivity, is it best to eliminate them from the team?

Should I consult with the dev team about the BA’s competency?

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    Am I understanding correctly that the BA was expected to be working on their own for gathering requirements and translating them into something that the development team can start working with in 2 weeks?
    – Thomas Owens
    Aug 1 at 16:53
  • Welcome to pmse. Feel free to check out the tour. Please note that asking multiple different questions risks closure. I suggest editing to focus on one thing at a time, and asking a separate question if you want to know something else.
    – Sarov
    Aug 3 at 13:18
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I believe that it is highly likely that focusing the question on the competence of the business analyst is looking for problems in people rather than in the surrounding system.

Although I would expect a business analyst to have expertise in requirements engineering - eliciting requirements from stakeholders, analyzing requirements for conflicts, working with the technical team to convert the user and business requirements into a format that can be used to design and build a solution, and dealing with changes to the requirements - it takes time to develop context and domain-specific knowledge to apply this knowledge to a new environment.

I would not expect that the newly hired BA would be able to fully function in two weeks. In my experience, onboarding a new employee may easily take 3 months. Some aspects of onboarding may go faster if they have worked in other parts of the company or have relevant industry experience, but the parts about developing a good working relationship with the team will always take time.

The most concerning behavior that I see is committing to features without working with the development team. Without seeing the context in which these commitments were made, though, I only have questions. Who was asking for the commitments? How much pressure was placed on the newly hired BA to make them? It wasn't good that they were made, but it's also possible the BA wasn't in a position to properly push back on making them.

I would expect that a BA, especially a new hire to the team, would need a lot of meetings with the developers to understand their perspective and ramp up. Perhaps there are ways to incorporate this into their onboarding training or other meetings that the team has, but the BA may not have been fully aware of the team practices in two weeks.

The ability to write good, clear requirements in a way that works for the team also takes time to develop.

Before you jump to eliminating the BA from the team, I'd recommend developing a plan to properly onboard the BA. However, if the person doesn't have the baseline business analysis and requirements engineering knowledge required to carry out the responsibilities of the position, then maybe it's best to move on. In that case, though, I'd also recommend looking at your interviewing process to understand how someone could be hired without demonstrating the baseline knowledge required for the job and find ways to resolve that issue.

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There is a mantra for modern hiring practices: "Hire slow, fire fast." I'll start with the second part since you've already hired. Yes, it is perfectly appropriate to ask the team for input on any new member's performance. I suggest you be open about it: Let the BA know it is happening, but don't make it sound unusual. This is a very common practice for empowered teams. Ask for kind, constructive comments, of course!

To gain some data points, I strongly recommend you ask your HR department to find a performance appraisal form for BA skills. Then have the team members rate the BA individually using the form, and you can average the ratings.

Present the comments and ratings, if done, to the BA. In consultation with HR, create a Performance Improvement Plan calling for them to improve within a short period, but at least a couple of weeks to be fair, or separate. Often in these cases the new person realizes they aren't doing well; if not, this process breaks through their filters. Sometimes they will just quit at this point.

Going forward, per "Hire slowly," I coach managers to involve the whole team in the hiring process; include practical skill tests, like presenting a bad set of requirements and asking them to rewrite; and pay the top candidate for a brief trial period. You might want to search on that "Hire... fire" phrase to get a lot more ideas.

Good luck--Jim

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