Friday, August 05, 2005


I think I have finally transitioned completely into my new role at work, that of a business analyst for one of our software projects. I slowly moved from my position as technical writer to my current position by taking on some BA tasks here and there and then taking on more while phasing out the tech writing work. After this last week, there is pretty much nothing of my tech writing position left.

There are some very distinct differences between being a tech writer and being a business analyst. The first is the amount of involvement you have with other members of the team you are working with. As a tech writer I usually was left to fend for myself as I would usually take on a large project and work on it for weeks then turn it in and move onto the next big project.

As a BA there are still big projects but these big projects have so many smaller interconnected pieces that I’m responsible for. In getting all of these tasks coordinated and finished, I also have to interact with my fellow coworkers and clients a lot more. It’s actually nice to be able to interact with other people as opposed to being the hermit of the project, left alone to work on my own thing.

The one thing that I have come to not like, however, is meetings. They’re a necessary evil to getting things accomplished, but from what I’ve experienced so far a lot of the time the majority of the time I spend in meetings feels pointless. Well, maybe not pointless, but I feel like I could better be spending that time doing other tasks that I need to accomplish.

What can keep meetings from spiraling into worthlessness is a strict agenda and a person to lead the meeting who will keep to that agenda. The meetings that have been productive for me are the ones where I went in knowing what was going to be covered, what I was responsible for, and what would be done following the meeting. They were relatively quick, got right down to business, and let me get back to work.

This week it seems, however, that many of the meetings I’ve been in have lacked coherence and I chalk that up to not having proper agendas set. Too often meetings have just spiraled into people asking random questions and talking about random junk to fill up the allotted meeting time. Letting a meeting simply ebb and flow depending upon what the attendees decide keeps everyone from getting the most out of the time spent in the meeting.

I’m learning quite quickly how to maximize my efficiency when in pointless, agendaless meetings. You can easily tell how a meeting will go by looking at who is calling the meeting. I know now that when I go to meetings set up by certain people that I should bring my laptop along so that I can work while in them because more than likely there will be parts of the meeting where it will meander to and fro with no discernable progress being made.

I have also learned that you don’t have to go to every meeting you are invited to. If a meeting doesn’t really apply to me or only slightly applies to me and I have more important things to do, I just don’t go. It took me a while to realize I don’t have to go to every meeting, but as I let too much work pile up around me I had to prioritize and some meetings just don’t make the cut.

There will be more pointless meetings in the future and I know I’ll get suckered into some of them, but I’m learning what I need to do to survive them and to make them actually worth my time. Give me a few more weeks at this and I’ll be making every meeting my bitch. You just watch!

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