When I joined the corporate world many many moons ago, I was a nervous ball. I am not going to pretend like I had done my research and got all the information. I was clueless. No idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew at that time was #1 I was definitely registering for my honours degree full time, #2 I wanted a job in the business side of IT #3 I was graduating and getting my degree.
This was all in 2011. Thankfully, I landed a job as a Graduate Business Analyst and I was ecstatic. I grabbed that opportunity with both hands and I ran. Never looked back since.
It’s been 7 years, about 3 different titles (Process Analyst, Business Process Analyst, Process Engineer) and a whole LOT of adventure.
In those 7 years, my roles/tasks included mapping out the current (As-Is) company processes (for different departments e.g. Customer Operations, Marketing, Supply Chain/Procurement and more), identify gaps/loopholes in those processes, Identify optimization opportunities, Automate processes, conduct research to make sure company is on track with the ever changing technology and then of course a whole lot of meetings and documentations(To-Be process maps). Sounds pretty easy, right? That’s what I thought till I actually dived in. Here’s a few things i’ve learnt along the way.
#1 Confidence is
keya must have
Being a newbie in a company is NOT fun. It’s even worse when you are fresh from varsity. I had to conduct JAD sessions, get requirements from different people, obtain sign-offs for documents, and basically just be in people’s faces all the time. Being shy,reserved, and taking a back seat was definitely not an option. I quickly realized that to get things done, I had to boost up my confidence and actually be visible. Trust me, I faked the confidence part for a bit before it actually came natural but it had to be done. The minute you start waffling and speaking soft, everyone will just walk over you. No one will listen and no work will get done – on your part at most.
#2 Never take one person's word for it
With the amount of work I was doing and the company dependency on the processes I was mapping, I quickly learned that taking one person’s point of view was a lot like shooting yourself right in foot without even flinching. You have to talk to people, especially the ones that are physically doing the work. That’s where you’ll see where the loopholes are.Don’t get me wrong, you still have to involve management at some point but the truth is they normally will tell you what they expect things to be like rather than how things actually are – and this does not solve any problem AT ALL. Setting up a workshop normally works best. Give each person an opportunity to speak and say things how they understand it without interrupting or correcting them. It’ll take a while but believe me, it’ll work 10 folds for you later on.
#3 Don't be afraid to ask question
The worst thing you could do to yourself is ASSUMING that you understand what the next person is saying. Rather be the fool who asks *stupid* questions than to be that person who’s always submitting documents with incorrect information or in this case processes. It’s not the easiest thing to do though. When you sitting in a boardroom filled with people nodding, you are somehow compelled to nod with them. At least until they assign a task to your name then you realize that actually, you should have asked those questions. Yep, this happened to me more than once…Eish!
#4 Look beyond what you see
Process mapping, analysis, and engineering thereof is quite fun. It gives you a platform to be creative and in a way expand your horizon. Do exactly that. Explore options, try things out, fail but get up and make it better. INNOVATION doesn’t just come from one idea – at least I think. It’s trial an error and if it didn’t work, research other alternatives and try that one. Just don’t get too caught up in this. Remember the company needs to make more money than it’s spending money.
#5 Process mapping tools are just that ... TOOLS
A lot of the time process mapping tools are INTIMIDATING. They look complicated and just down right frustrating. But like most things, they can be learnt. When you move from one company to another and they tell you they are using a certain process mapping tool that you don’t know or even never heard of, don’t panic, you will learn it. They all do the same thing. The buttons and icons may be different but the end result is almost exactly the same.
#6 Work smart not hard
The thing about analysis is that it can be rather consuming. One minute you are setting up deadlines for delivery and making promises then the next you find yourself sucked into the analysis paralysis time capsule. It’s very easy to get in there but it’s also quite easy to avoid it. Write up a scope document, get everyone to agree and sign it. Though things may change during the project, take note of them but don’t let them derail your work. Have the future in mind always. It’s no point implementing a system to send sms’es now when in 3 months everyone will be receiving and viewing videos. Be smart with your work and LEVERAGE off of the available technology and company resources.
#7 Have fun & enjoy
Being in a corporate environment is not the easiest thing. Especially if your job comes with a lot of pressure. But with that being said, it’s very important to also just let loose and have fun. Working while stressed really doesn’t help much. Makes you grumpy and quite unpleasant to be around. Look at every task as a challenge and take ONE BITE AT A TIME.
It hasn’t been an easy ride but I sit here now on my new role as an IT Specialist with a big smile on my face as I reminisce on all the adventure that this past 7 years has been. Though I get that this post may not be for everyone, it certainly will apply to anyone joining the corporate world or any job for that matter. I am no longer a Process Engineer but I am still applying these to-date.