While doing my Business Analysis I have found that negotiation skills are very important and very crucial part of your role. As a BA you need to master the art of negotiation, you will have to use that skill at various stage of the project, you negotiate with the sponsor with the scope and delivery dates of the project, you negotiate with the project manager to get appropriate resource and on time, you negotiate with the development team with the features to be development and if you are lucky to get this far, you now negotiate with the QA team to ship software with least number of defects.
One thing you have to learn and believe as a BA is that nothing is set in rock, you can and you should negotiate at every possible stage of the project to achieve the best outcome possible.
Some people are natural at negotiation whereas other people need to improve on it, most people see negotiation as negative and tend to avoid it, but it is not about doing the least possible or being difficult, it is about making sure all the party involve are happy, and everyone gets something out of it.
You should be very careful when negotiating, your body language, your tone and your approach is very important. Try to put yourself in other person's shoe that will help you to understand the other person's view, treat everyone as you would like to be treated.
Before you start negotiation sit down and list of following things
- Make a list of every single topic to be negotiated.
- Make a list of topics which should be avoided during the negotiation.
- What are your needs (and not your wants)?
- What is the minimum you want to settle for?
- How far are you prepared to go?
- What is available or possible?
Knowledge is power so make sure you know as much as possible about the thing you are about to negotiate, ask around if anyone else has done it before and what was the outcome, don’t let the other party blind you with technical details, stay focused.
Always remember 'Relationship before task', spend some time with other party to understand their need, always empathise with their problem, avoid and deal with conflict as soon as possible. Always explain to other party why and what are you negotiation for.
Negotiation is not about 'YOU' or 'ME', it is about 'US', be flexible, do not try to drive too hard, make everyone involved feel like a winner.
How do you know that your negotiation was successful?
Well there is no great answer for this but if both parties seem happy with the outcome, which fits into the project goals, I will say that’s good.
In the end don’t forget, negotiation is truly an art and not science, negotiation skill can be improved even in your day to day life activity (some time you are doing it without realising it) like negotiating for a mortgage, car or even insurance. All the best.