Negotiation for the New Business Analyst
By George Bridges
Quite often new Business Analysts are surprised that they need to grow their negotiation skills. We all have to negotiate in our professional life, but may not be aware of what and how to negotiate. As an example, once I was late getting to the airport in NY and needed to catch a plane to get home that night. The boarding process had started, so I was being denied boarding because of the minimum time window standard/business rule. After several attempts to persuade the airline reservationist, I recalled a negotiation tactic, where you stop talking and remain silent, forcing the other party to comment or make a recommendation. The long pause caused the reservationist to consider a solution which they immediately acted upon through an escalation process with their management that eventually allowed me to board. The tactic did work in this situation, but it was one that may or may not work in every situation.
The new BA may ask: Why should I have to negotiate with the stakeholders, isn’t that the role of the project manager or my management? As a professional, there are a lot of things that can be negotiated; such as, your projects, the resources needed for the project, the scope of the project and the schedule to complete the project. There are some things that can’t be negotiated; such as past performance, history or results of a study.
What is negotiation?
Negotiation defined: “To discuss with a view to reaching an agreement” – Webster’s New World Dictionary
Some successful elements of any negotiation that we should consider in this definition are:
- Communicating to reach an agreement.
- Resolving disputes.
- Bargaining for interests.
Often in working with different groups within an organization, a BA will need to negotiate the scope of the solution and the selected requirements to achieve the solution, especially if groups have different expectations and objectives. The expectations, objectives, and requirements may be in conflict with the overall objective of the organization, which will lead to a less than optimum solution.
A new BA needs to know what can be negotiated and how to negotiate to improve stakeholder satisfaction and solution success.
There are many ways to negotiate that the BA should avoid. They are :
- Zero Sum Negotiations
- Getting to the B type Negotiations
- Distributive Negotiations
Each of these forms of negotiations may lead to a negotiated solution but will not generate a Win-Win for the parties that are negotiating.
Our best approach to Negotiations and one that we recommend is called Principle Negotiation. This concept was created by two Harvard Professor’s, Roger Fisher & William Ury and is the basis for a best selling book called “Getting to Yes”. By learning to conduct principle negotiation you learn what the interest of both parties are and you craft a solution to help each party to have their interest met. Most often in negotiations, the process starts with each party revealing their position. The position is what they want, usually stated up front. The interest is why they want something or the position they stated. In negotiation, this is not revealed and has to be discovered in the negotiation process. When you are armed with the “why”, and know the concept of principle negotiation you can generate solutions that all parties can agree with. (Win-Win)
Things to remember Principle Negotiation:
Principled negotiation advocates four fundamental principles or rules:
- Separate the people from the problem.
- Focus on interests, not positions.
- Insist on objective criteria.
- Invent options for mutual gain.
In another blog, we will address the topic of mediation and explain what it is and compare it to negotiation.