PMs and BAs, How Are Your Problem Solving Skills?

Business analysts and project managers are frequently asked to evaluate and select solutions that meet defined business objectives. Your project’s selected solution targets solving an underlying problem and/or meeting a business need in the organization. Your primary goal when addressing a business problem is how to solve that problem. Most folks get this done through a combination of problem definition, alternatives identification, and decision-making. Let’s have a look at each item.

Problem definition: You need to make sure that the problem or business need being addressed is clearly defined and understood by your stakeholders. Any issues related to the problem or need should be identified and shared with the group. All conflicts between stakeholders relative to the problem or need should also be addressed.

Alternatives identification: Often there are many ways to solve a problem or address a business need. Solution options are developed, analyzed, and evaluated by the group. Remember that the solution options under consideration should meet the defined objectives and actually solve the problem and/or meet the business need.

Decision making: Once your problem or need is clearly defined and the solution alternatives are identified, it is time to make or recommend a decision. Tradeoff decision-making may be required to select the best solution to the problem or need. You and your team want to avoid selecting a sub-optimal solution due to politics or preconceived notions.

Making good decisions during your project’s life cycle requires having the right information and involving the right people. If you can complete the puzzle pieces (what your organization does + what you know + what is known by others + who needs to be involved) targeting the problem at hand, you can show and shine with your skills in structured problem solving and decision-making.   

Happy decision-making!

Susan Weese

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