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Making the successful transition from business analyst to project manager

Not all project managers want to manage projects forever. Sometimes they look to switch to a more technical hands on position with the team like the business analyst role.

Likewise, not all business analysts want to continue in the role of business analyst forever – looking to take on a higher level management commitment of the project and deal less with the daily team and customer oversight that the BA role is usually responsible for on most project engagements.

If you are considering a move to project management from business analysis, below are some of the key areas where – in my opinion – you’ll need to take some extra steps or will need to focus efforts on in order to make the transition as successful as possible as quickly as possible. I’ve limited it to five areas – please consider and share your own thoughts that come up as you read this.

Training and certification.

If the business analyst is truly certain about making the transition to full on project management then a good start would be to go through the proper training and certification. Getting your project management professional (PMP) certification is the likeliest best route to take. The applicant must document the proper amount of experience to sit for the exam but there many places that can assist you that and even get you trained and certified within 5 days – with a 100% guarantee that you’ll pass it and if you don’t you get to take it again door free.

Learning the software.

Yes, there will be software involved. It’s 2018 and you’re not likely to manage a project over 100 hours without using more than an Excel spreadsheet. Whatever software tool you prefer or your new project manager colleagues recommend or your organization (or customer) requires you to use, learn it and use it. They are all fairly similar and you mainly want to be able to input your tasks and their scheduled dates, connected the dependent tasks, add resources to the tasks and associate costs to those resources. Once you’ve done that, you should be ready to go.


Thinking at 10,000 feet.

As a business analyst, you’ve probably been used to viewing tasks and requirements and business processes and design issues at very minute detailed levels. As a project manager, you do care about the details, but you have to get used to looking at most things – most of the time – at the 10,000 foot level.

Meaning at a very high level and analyzing the overall affect of tasks, task progress, issues, resource input, and task dependency, etc. at very high levels and how they affect the project now, a week from now, a month from now, how they affect each team member and the customer, and sometimes even how they affect other projects.

Making decisions.

The business analyst is always making decisions – probably just as many or more than the project manager that are important to the project. The decisions being made are often different – with the business analyst making decisions focused on – for tech projects – next design and development steps, requirements definition and interpretation issues and similar. The project manager is often more focused on making higher level project related decisions like task assignments, resource changes and needs, delivery dates, vendors to be used, etc. So the nature of decisions that the business analyst making such a transition will change and they must be comfortable making those decisions – sometimes quickly with less than enough information and possibly with no team members or stakeholders or even the customer available to provide input that may be needed for more project critical decisions.

Communications and meeting facilitation.

The business analyst making the transition to project manager must be a master communicator as it is jib zone for the project manager position. Communicator and meeting facilitator go hand in hand. It’s not enough to just disseminate information. You also need to be. A great listener, understand what’s being communicated and understand what lies behind and beyond the communication. Sort of interpreting someone the communication as it comes through because there can be some meaning to it that lied below the service. As far as meetings, it’s much more than calling an meeting to discuss a topic. Ores planning for the meeting, getting meeting info out to meeting attendees in advance Sao that they have time to prepare for what may be expected of them during the meeting to aid in information dissemination, project update, and decision making. And them taking great notes during the meeting f

Summary / call for input

Project manager. Business analyst. Both are leaders. Both must be excellent communicators, meeting facilitators, team leaders, decision makers and customer managers. But in slightly different ways. Each role prepares you well if you are interested in transitioning to the other. Perhaps the business analyst to project manager role is easier because you’ll already have that more hands-on technical feel that isn’t absolutely necessary for the project management role but can make life easier. The project manager making a move to business analyst may need to acquire that skill set and it may not be easy depending on the background the project manager is coming from. It’s my stance that every project manager leading tech related projects should have a technical background. Being a former application developer and application development manager has helped me in my project management and consulting roles in many ways and legitimizes my skills and understanding of the technology to tech project team that may not be the easies to manage from the outset and rarely trusts the non-tech project managers out there who try to give them direction.

Readers – what’s your thoughts on this? Have you made the transition one way or another? Was it easy? Hard? What about your experience in one or the other helped most with the transition? And was the move permanent or did you take it slow or go back? Please share and discuss.