Why I became a Lead Business Analyst

About a month ago, my boss asked me to take on the role of Lead Business Analyst in our Programme Office.

At the time I was working as a Product Manager for a suite of front-end applications, and was enjoying the cut and thrust of delivering on our roadmaps, but I’d actually joined the company as an entry-level BA just under four years ago, and I’d been thinking about coming back home to Analysis for a while. So it was a real mixture of excitement and nervousness that I agreed – excitement in that I felt like I was back in my preferred discipline, but nervous in that I suddenly had to remember how to conduct quality analysis whilst also managing a team!

BAs are not accountants

The role of Business Analyst is not like many other disciplines in software delivery. It’s not like being an accountant, or a salesperson, or other more “traditional” roles.

Every organisation has a very specific way that it prefers its BAs to work – from the very traditional, “classical” role that writes long, formal Business Requirements Documents and contributes to business cases, through to the fabled “hybrid” Analyst that is expected to deliver project specs as well as define them.

It is a pliable, malleable role that has plenty of theory and definitions of best practice informing it, but it is equally at the mercy of the wider organisation, who expect them to serve the needs of customers, clients and Chief Executives whilst also delivering what developers and architects require.

Simply put, it’s difficult enough to do a great job as a Business Analyst in its own right, let alone being a practitioner-manager that the Lead BA in my organisation is (rightly) expected to be.

Live-blogging my career

This series of blog posts will therefore aim to talk about the various challenges that I will be experiencing in this new role, as I face them. I am essentially live-blogging my career!

Whilst this is not my first management role, it is my first Lead BA role, and I hope that the experiences I write about, and the problems I encountered enter, will resonate with current and future Business Analysis professionals.

There are some specific topics I’ll be covering very soon:

  • How do you manage your team’s time? How do you ensure that they are assigned to the highest priority projects, where they can deliver the most value?
  • How do you set expectations for what analysts will be delivering on an engagement, whilst ensuring that you can be flexible according to the project sponsor’s wishes?
  • How do you decide on what standards of documentation are appropriate for a specific project, so that “just enough documentation is delivered for the engineers without writing hundreds of pages of requirements spec that no one will read?

I look forward to hearing what you think of future posts – in the meantime, wish me luck!