Insights

Valtech Voices: Meet Chloé

September 01, 2019

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Q: What is your official title?

I am a data business analyst (BA)

Q: Why do we need data business analysts in a project?

A data BA has the same skill sets as a business analyst but adds data analysis capabilities to the mix to navigate a different context.

Because data is everywhere and becoming so important to industries and businesses, being able to understand the specific challenges and how a business should be able to deal with data is invaluable added knowledge.

Q: What do you think is an important skill needed to be a BA?

We all need different skill sets to make a project work, we need someone who can act as a link between all the different specialities to understand, translate and facilitate discussions between all those people and help propel this project forward. That is an important skill for a BA.

We used to have this interview question  “How you would draw the role of a business analyst?”

I have asked a few people and have had interesting feedback. One way was like a flower, you have the BA in the centre and the petals are the different roles.

It is a project so it should not be two-dimensional. The BA is there to enable the work. An even better metaphor: imagine the propeller of a boat. The BA is the stick in the middle and members of the team are…not sure what you would call that.

2H5A2051.JPGQ: Maybe the spokes?

Yes I guess. I really like this one. The role of the BA is to help the boat move forward, give momentum.

Q: Yes it makes a lot of sense, I like the idea of the forward momentum of a project with the idea of a propeller of a boat.

So do you find it is often a balancing act – balancing the requirements of the client and of the team?

Well there are many things that factor in this.

One is the way that we work at Valtech is to be embedded within the client’s team. We are all an integral part of one single team to deliver one project together. This is something we do well with Ofgem Data Services.

In a way, you put the client’s needs ahead but we are all invested in the success of the project and work hand in hand with the product owner.

It is also not just the business and your team you need to consider, user needs are a key driver and the BA can act as a spokesperson for them. The role of a BA is to understand the needs of everyone, they all ultimately meet in the product we are working to deliver.

Q: Tell me a bit more about your current project ‘The Exchange’.

To fulfil their regulatory role in the UK energy market, Ofgem collects data, from many sources, in different formats, for various purpose, and most importantly they collect a lot of it.  This information comes through many different avenues e.g. via email, shared folders which are not secure.

Current processes do not help transparency and put a burden on data providers as they have to collate many different sources of information.

The vision of the Exchange is to provide a single and secure place for all market participants to exchange data. Right now, we are building the way in which the supplier can submit data to Ofgem. A future feature is for Ofgem to have the ability to send data back to the suppliers.

 

Q: Sounds like an amazing project but with many moving parts! So on that note of it being a complex project…

 What has been the most challenging aspect of the project for you as a data business analyst or something new that you had not encountered before?

We are currently building an MVP: that’s the Minimum Viable Product that answers core user needs. Because security is such a fundamental aspect, everything we do is with security in mind.

One of the key challenges has been getting the right balance in terms of the level of features we are happy to build for our MVP but at the same time having all the right building blocks for it to be functional and secure by design.

The opposite way, i.e. sending data from Ofgem to the data providers will present a different security risk, but there is no compromise.

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Q: You mentioned an MVP, could you elaborate on what this is and why Valtech uses these which I guess comes back to the idea of agile delivery?

When you are building a product, it starts with someone having an idea, maybe the product exists but we think we can build it better. Usually you would go through phases of prototyping, brainstorming and test it with users.

Following the GDS pattern, we had a discovery phase to understand the landscape and needs for the service, and during Alpha we built a prototype to test it with users and understand their needs.

From this you usually get a super long list of what you could do. During Beta, you build this MVP based on a prioritised list of features. Prioritising is always a challenge, depending on user feedback, time and money available.

With the MVP, you can see how the user interact with it through user testing and analytics.

Many users we talked to asked about a calendar feature, to track when the next data submission is due so they can prepare and create a roadmap but there is no such thing available yet. It’s where business and client needs meet and while it will take some time, it’s starting the discussion internally.

In the meantime, Ofgem can start rationalising what data is asked for thanks to better visibility of what’s already collected in the Hub.

It is always about thinking about why are you doing this, what are you doing this for.

Yes there are lots of moving parts. At its core, we get to ask questions, we work together and we get things done.

Q: So are there any dream projects you would like to work on in the future?

I really like data focussed projects so I am enjoying this project at Ofgem.

I really appreciate that this project is doing something for good, that definitely motivates me.

Could not agree more!

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