Analyst insight from Chennai, India

Grayce Analyst, Akbar Hussain shares his experience travelling to India as a Business Analyst for a global pharmaceutical company

Only three months into my role as a Business Analyst and I have been lucky enough to travel to Sweden and recently to India. I travelled there to take part in a planning workshop with our entire project team.

Working for a global pharmaceutical client means that you're often working with people that you may never meet in person. I’m working on a project where we are looking to migrate data from various source systems into a single data warehouse, then use this data to provide quality analytics back to various parts of the business. This relies heavily on a Build and Test team based in Chennai, India. 2020 is the final year of the project, so we need to make sure we have a big year! A workshop to bring everyone together face-to-face and discuss delivery couldn’t be better timed.

During the workshop we meticulously planned each person’s workload for next year so that the work moves seamlessly between different parts of the team and minimises bottlenecks. We ended the week with a great plan to deliver on time.

Chennai is known in India as the ‘IT City’ so everyone you meet is young, fresh and only speak in tech acronyms. This was a great experience for networking with key IT stakeholders as well as seeing visual demos of powerful data governance tools, such as Talend and Collibra. Add to that the fact that the Chennai site serves free daily lunch (by the way, ‘a little spicy’ in India means Nando’s extra hot here!) and you have a hugely successful week.

Before my visit to India, I had been at Grayce HQ for workshop facilitation training only two weeks prior. Everything I learnt tied in perfectly. This is one of the great things about the Grayce programme; you receive training from industry accredited people, gain change qualifications and coaching from the delivery managers who make sure to stretch you and knit your off-site learning with your on-site project. The work is tough but highly rewarding!

So, what are my responsibilities on client-site? I speak to the business to understand what analytics are important to them. What information do they need in order to highlight where their business processes are falling over or working great? These requirements are formalised into a User Requirement Specification (URS) which helps the Information Architects understand which data tables need to be brought over from the legacy source systems into the new SAP HANA warehouse. The project works to an Agile methodology which has been great for my development as you work to a specific daily goal and drive rigour. To date the project has saved the business approximately 250 FTE hours per year.

These first three months have moved fast. This can be challenging as you are pulled in different directions as the project evolves. For example, I could be mid-way through developing use-cases for data science but then hand that off to the data scientist and get pulled into understanding which tools might be best suited for data governance. The breadth of experience is vast. I deal with this by maintaining a progress log of all my tasks and keeping my manager updated so he can always judge how to handle my work load. Another big challenge for me was that the senior BA (based in Sweden) on the project left the organisation only one month into my assignment. To allow the project to continue, I travelled to Sweden for a knowledge transfer. This was an intense week as I knew if I didn’t understand something then, I wouldn’t have the chance to ask questions later. I learnt the subtleties of holding meetings with key business stakeholders, how to complete a SIPOC and user stories, draw up a process map and the current work stack.

I have previous change management experience handling robotic process automation, so this has come in handy when dealing with external vendors. I could communicate the business needs effectively to people who did not have the benefit of seeing it run day to day. This is one of the reasons my client takes on Grayce Analysts - we are always willing to dive in the deep end to be an advocate for innovation. There is a real two-way relationship between my client and the Grayce Team, and that is what I have found most valuable on the Grayce Development Programme. Grayce clients live and breathe similar values to Grayce which means you are trusted to take on important work, but the client is always patient and supporting you to learn.

I hope to continue to develop into a change leader and one day influence the strategy of organisations so that they may innovate further to grow. I have a long way to go, but I couldn’t have asked for a better start!

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