What’s the Difference Between a Senior BA, Lead BA, and Project Manager?

Reader question:

Hi, I am new to the business analyst field. Can anyone tell me the difference between senior BA, Lead BA and Project Manager?

Laura’s answer:

Great question! It’s somewhat difficult to answer because these roles are not defined consistently across organizations and these job titles are often used in different ways. Moreover, business analysis and project management roles often overlap, meaning one person (with the title of “project manager” or “business analyst”) might actually fill both roles.

But, let’s give it a shot.

Before I forget, I want to be sure you know about my absolutely free workshop – Quick Start to Success as a Business Analyst –  to help you, the mid-career professional, kick-start your business analysis career.

Onto answering the question!

Project Manager vs. Business Analyst

Let’s start by clarifying the difference between the roles of the project manager and the business analyst.

In essence, project managers are responsible for delivering the solution to a problem. Business analysts are responsible for discovering the problem and determining the solution. For a deeper dive into the business analyst role, check out my article, “What is a Business Analyst?“.

And a Senior Business Analyst?

But what about a Senior Business Analyst? We might think of a Senior Business Analyst as someone who solves bigger problems. The  responsibilities and expertise of someone with the title of “Senior Business Analyst” vary widely across organizations.

  • Some organizations value expertise (such as industry expertise or product expertise) and so the title of “senior” goes to those who have developed that expertise.
  • Other organizations value general BA competencies and promote BAs to senior based on strong communication and analysis skills and ability to mentor more junior business analysts.
  • Still others recognize those fulfilling enterprise analysis responsibilities as moving into a senior role.

And a Lead Business Analyst?

Typically a Lead Business Analyst is responsible for coordinating the efforts of multiple business analysts on a project. The Lead might be a Business Analyst Manager, or they might be the lead on a project without managerial authority over the group of BAs working on the project.

Leading a BA effort on a project could involve planning the business analysis effort, determining how requirements will be managed, and reviewing deliverables created by all the BAs on the team for quality and consistency.

This might sound a lot like a project manager, but there is a key difference. While the project manager coordinates the efforts of the entire project team to deliver the solution, the role of the BA Lead is to coordinate the efforts of several business analysts to discover the problem and determine the solution.

>>What Role Are You Qualified For?

Since BA responsibilities vary among job roles, it’s most important you find the BA roles you are qualified for. In this article, we discuss how to figure out exactly how senior of a business analyst role you get shoot for.

Click here to learn more about qualifying to be a business analyst

>> Get Your Quick Start to Success as a Business Analyst

At Bridging the Gap, we help mid-career professionals build the foundational business analyst skills they need to thrive in a variety of business analyst roles.

If business analysis is a career that you want to pursue, the absolute best next thing to do is to join my free Quick Start to Success workshop. You’ll learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls faced by new business analysts and the step-by-step business analysis process to create predictable, consistent project success.

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>>How to Learn the Foundational Business Analyst Skills

When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll gain real world experience in the industry-standard techniques and business analysis processes. You’ll create work samples vetted by experienced instructors and have the opportunity to become a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).

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Laura Brandenburg

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