Business Analysts Need to be Project Managers

I know what you’re thinking. Kupe has lost his mind…he’s a flip-flopper! In my last post, What?! You Don’t Want to Be a Project Manager, I gave my view on why companies need to have career paths for their BAs other than to become a Project Manager. I sit here today still defending that position. But, I do feel BAs with project management experience have a slight advantage. As some of you know, earlier in my career, I went from an accountant to business analyst. What you may not know is I took a project manager role at one point in my career. I was one of those new guys trying to move up that company ladder and thought all my happiness would come from being a PM. Wrong! The good part of that experience was that I was formally trained and had the opportunity to work with a great mentor. My last year and a half as a PM I had to play both roles, PM and BA. I found myself spending more time on the analysis side of things, therefore neglecting some important PM tasks. It was at that time I realized my true love was business analysis. I found an opportunity to go back to business analysis full time and never looked back.

With every situation I try to find the positive. For me, gaining PM experience made me a better business analyst. In the spirit of this week’s US holiday, Thanksgiving, here are the top three reasons I am thankful for being a project manager.

Planning

I am thankful for understanding the basic concepts of a work breakdown structure. As business analysts, it is our responsibility to plan our activities. Then working with the project manager our plan gets incorporated into the overall project plan. When developing my plan I am able to layout my schedule with proper dependencies and include adjustments for my working time and my stakeholder’s working time. With the help of MS Project I can see where I need to add or where I can reduce time. For this I am thankful that I have PM experience.

Project Lifecycle

I am thankful for understanding the full project lifecycle. As business analysts, everything we do impacts all phases of a project lifecycle. As a PM I was able to get better insights into the needs and challenges for development, testing and implementation. Every project we work on is a change to the people for which we implement solutions. As a PM, I learned to work closely with the business stakeholders to develop strategies to help the user community implement and adjust to the new or enhanced system. For this I am thankful I have PM experience.

Leadership/Motivation

I am thankful for being able to lead and motivate teams. As a business analyst and a project manager, you have to lead and motivate without authority. My approach as a project manager was to lead and motivate by building a strong trusting team. By coming together early in the project and determining the tasks needed to accomplish our goals, everyone was bought-in to the project approach. Together we were accountable for our successes and failures. As a business analyst, I find the need to motivate my business stakeholders to participate in the analysis approach every now and then. In my post, Mr. Business Analyst, You’re Not a Good Fit!, @gbusby commented that a senior level BA role requires selling. I agree 100%. Many times stakeholders still want to give a few statements about their needs and then let the project team work their “magic.” That approach almost guarantees failure, so we need to find creative ways to get these stakeholders to fully participate. As a BA you may not be leading the entire team, but at senior levels you will find yourself leading a team of BAs on a project. You need to be able to lead and motivate this group. For this I am thankful I have PM experience.

Even though I do not want to be a project manager, I found my experience helped me become a better business analyst. What role(s) did you have in the past that helped you become a better business analyst? What are you thankful for?

Thank you for reading and leaving your comments,

Kupe

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Jonathan “Kupe” Kupersmith is Director of Client Solutions, B2T Training and has over 12 years of business analysis experience. He has served as the lead Business Analyst and Project Manager on projects in various industries. He serves as a mentor for business analysis professionals and is a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) through the IIBA and is BA Certified through B2T Training. Kupe is a connector and has a goal in life to meet everyone! Contact Kupe at [email protected].