Stepping Into a BA Leadership Role: Do You Have What It Takes?

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You’re a successful Business Analyst, but are now ready to take the next step to advance your career. So what is your next step? Do you need to move out of business analysis to advance? Is your only advancement option to become a Project Manager?

Stepping Into a BA Leadership Role: Do You Have What It Takes?Are you a BA who wants to see where your career may go in or beyond Business Analysis? Are you interested in managing BA teams or leading BA teams on projects? Are you someone who has been put in the role of the Business Analyst Manager without previous experience as a BA? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, this series of articles is for you.

If your passion is with Business Analysis but you want to take a stronger leadership role and advance your career, there are other options within the Business Analysis field. This series of articles talks about these options and how to determine if you have what it takes to become a BA Manager or a BA Lead on projects. If you are not interested in the BA Manager or BA Lead roles, we also look at other career path opportunities that best utilize your BA skills.

Getting on the same page with the Business Analyst

Before we get into defining what the roles of the Business Analyst Manager and Business Analyst Lead are, perhaps we should make sure we’re on the same page regarding what the IT Business Analyst role is.

The Business Analyst has many different responsibilities and wears many different hats in each organization, but here are three main criteria we can use to define a BA:

  • The Business Analyst is the role on the software development project team whose responsibility is understanding the vision of the business and translating that vision into understandable requirements. These requirements are used by the development and testing teams, who will develop and test the software solution.

  • The Business Analyst is at the center of the software development project team – interacting with business users and subject matter experts, project management, technical development, quality assurance, and end users.

  • The Business Analyst is responsible for facilitating requirements elicitation from the business stakeholders, communicating the business requirements to all parties and ensuring the end solution meets the business needs.

Expanding Your Business Analysis Role

If you want to continue in Senior Business Analyst role but are looking to expand on your current role, there are many different ways to do so. With years of experience and knowledge, you can mentor or coach less experienced colleagues either inside or outside of your organization. This way you can help your less experienced colleagues achieve their own goals or results.

On similar lines, you can share your experience and knowledge by training others either internally in your organization or externally. The options include:

  • Working for a training organization, teaching classes in business analysis concepts.

  • Teaching continuing education or community college courses in business analysis skills.
  • Guest lecturing at local colleges.
  • Developing internal training courses within your company.

Ever thought about blogging? You can educate others by contributing articles (like this one!) about the Business Analyst profession or by answering any questions people might have that they encounter while doing Business Analysis. Writing also increases your personal reputation and increases visibility for your company.

As mentioned before, Business Analysts often play multiple roles in the organization. You can always play a dual role in your organization. For example, you can work as a Business Analyst and a Project Manager or a Business Analyst and a quality assurance role.

How about adding User Experience as a skillset to your role? User Experience is growing in importance in many companies. Some Business Analysts already play this role to a certain extent. The addition of user experience to business analysis can bring that uniqueness to your role.

With the above mentioned options you can increase your influence and leadership responsibilities while still remaining in the business analyst role.

Competencies of the Business Analyst Manager

Whether you are interested in becoming a Business Analyst Manager, are defining the Business Analyst Manager role for your organization, or are a BA Manager who wants to make sure that you’re keeping up with your peers, you will want to know what the BA Manager does differently than the Business Analyst. There are several distinct areas of responsibility for the BA Manager. In the second article of this series, we will illustrate the challenges and responsibilities in detail, but here is a sneak peak of three core BA Manager competencies:

  1. Team Manager Competencies

    The BA Manager carries all the responsibilities of a Manager in the IT Organization, including HR responsibilities for the BAs on their team.

  2. Defining BA best practices for the organization

    The BA Manager is often responsible for defining what tools, templates, methods and best practices the BA will use in the organization.

  3. Responsibility for BA Delivery

    The BA Manager is responsible for ensuring the business analysts in the BA Organization are delivering on their commitments.

Key Skills for the Business Analyst Lead

While the BA Lead sometimes has responsibilities related to people management, coaching, and HR, the core of the BA Lead role is with delivery. The BA Lead is responsible for ensuring that the business needs are effectively communicated to the project team. What is the difference between a BA Lead and a Senior BA? The BA Lead is capable of managing a team of BA’s in delivering the requirements on a software development project. In this respect, the BA Lead is more project delivery oriented, where the BA Manager is more people oriented.

In the third article of this series we will explore the BA Team Lead role in detail, but here are four key competencies related to the Business Analyst Lead:

  1. The successful BA Lead is responsible for setting up and managing the requirements process. This includes building relationships with the business stakeholders and other who will be the source of the requirements for the project.

  2. During requirements facilitation and continuing for the length of the project, a key responsibility of the BA Lead is to manage scope creep. The BA Lead must be able to analyze the changes and determine which will affect the project schedule and communicate these finding to the Project Manager. The impacts to the business stakeholders must also be communicated in order to determine if the change is worth the cost or duration increase.

  3. During the requirements facilitation process, the BA Lead also often acts as a BA on the team and is required to facilitate requirements. The lead has to be careful to balance their BA duties with the lead responsibilities.

  4. The BA Lead also needs to be a skilled team lead. In everything from interpersonal issues to documentation issues, they are the responsible party for seeing that these issues are resolved.

These competencies, as well as other competencies for the BA Lead, will be expanded in upcoming articles in the series.

Beyond Business Analysis

The Business Analyst Manager and the Business Analyst team roles are excellent ways to advance in the Business Analysis career path. But, what if you are ready for a different role beyond Business Analysis? How can you leverage the skills that you’ve learned and practiced in your Business Analyst role in other roles? The last article in our series will explore other options that may be a good fit for your skills. While the article will touch on a number of roles, it will focus in detail on three roles:

  • Business Architect – Accountable for shaping and promoting the business architecture of an organization,

  • Product Manager – Accountable for investigating, selecting and developing products for an organization.

  • Product Owner – Accountable for the Product Backlog in an Agile SCRUM environment.

Choosing Your Next Role

Ultimately, you need to look at what options are available and where your personal passion lies and determine the career path that works best for you. Your Business Analysis skills provide you with the core skills needed to advance into various types of leadership roles.

Our objective for this series of articles is to provide you with some ideas and options of what could be next for you. The next article will provide details on the Business Analysis Manager role.


Authors: Ruby Baweja & Alan Smith - Geneca

Ruby Baweja, Senior Business Analyst at Geneca: Ruby is an IT Professional with solid business analysis skills and demonstrated project management success in software application deployment. She is strong believer in cultivating strong relationships with client, is experienced in requirements facilitation and elicitation, quality assurance testing and training users on a system. Ruby holds a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.

Alan Smith, Senior Business Analyst at Geneca: Alan has 12 years of technology experience working with various Insurance systems, Financial Systems, Telecommunications and Digital Entertainment. Alan is experienced with project definition, business analysis, requirements facilitation and analysis, quality assurance and all phases of testing. Alan specializes in Agile methodology, including XP, Scrum and Lean. Alan holds a Masters Degree in Adult Therapy from Loyola University Chicago. Alan loves building strong client relationships, and showing his clients how their engaged input into the requirements process will make their projects successful.

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