How to Excel as a Lead Business Analyst

Becoming a Lead Business Analyst is a significant step in your career.

It means more authority, more responsibility, and more impact.

If you’re curious whether or not you are prepared for a Lead Business Analyst role, this video is for you because I share 5 tips to help you excel as a Lead Business Analyst.

In this video, you’ll discover:

  • What a Lead Business Analyst is
  • My 5 tips for success as a Lead Business Analyst
  • Career growth opportunities beyond becoming a Lead Business Analyst

If you’re looking to start a career as a business analyst, I have a complete free workshop called Quick Start to Success as a Business Analyst. You’ll discover:

  • What a business analyst does
  • How to be effective in your role
  • The key skills you need to be more successful in today’s competitive job environment

>> Sign up for the FREE workshop <<

Becoming a lead business analyst is a significant step forward in your business analyst career. It means more authority, more responsibility, and also a lot more impact. But are you actually ready? What will it require and how can you prepare yourself?

In this video, I’ll be sharing five tips on how to be successful as a lead business. This is a role I have filled during my business analysis career, and leading teams is still one of my favorite aspects of my role as CEO of Bridging the Gap. So stay with me and let’s dive into the five tips that will help you prepare for this exciting opportunity.

Hi, I’m Laura Brandenburg with Bridging the Gap where we help you start, succeed, and excel in your business analyst career with weekly videos on business analysis tips and techniques.

Lead Business Analyst – Defined

Typically, a lead business analyst is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the efforts of multiple business analysts on a project. The lead might be a business analyst manager by title, or they might be the lead on a project without managerial authority over a group of BAs working on the project. For this video, we’re going to talk about the leadership role, not the management role.

For context, when we talk about business analysis here at Bridging the Gap, we’re talking about the role that literally bridges the gap between business and technology stakeholders. This means they help ensure software solutions actually do what the business needs them to do and solve real business problems.

Leading the BA effort on a project, it could involve planning the business analysis effort, it could involve determining how the requirements will be managed. It could involve reviewing deliverables created by all of the business analysts on the team for quality inconsistency. That might start to 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 requirements of that solution. So let’s just take a look at these five tips on how to be more successful.

Lead Business Analyst Success Tip #1 – Put A Business Analysis Framework In Place

Tip number one is to put a business analysis framework in place. When you are leading a team on a project, you need to have a framework for how you perform business analysis. Where does your work start? Where does it end? What are the templates a business analysts is supposed to use and when are they used? What is expected from each business analyst on that project? You need to have clear expectations in place so that your business analysts know what’s expected of them and how they can contribute.

A great starting point for getting a supportive framework in place is by learning about our eight step business analysis process framework that we teach here at Bridging the Gap. I did a whole separate video outlining those eight steps, so if you haven’t watched that, I’d encourage you to do so after this video.

Now, if you have a team of junior or entry level business analysts, this is where you may need to explore investing in business analysis training to ensure that they have the foundational skills that they need to be successful. It can be overwhelming to try to train business analysts and do all the other leadership responsibilities at the same. If you’re in that situation, please reach out about the training we offer here at Bridging the Gap.

Lead Business Analyst Success Tip #2 – Divide Up the Work

Tip number two is to divide up the work. With a framework in place, you’ll want to start to look at who is going to do what. As the lead business analyst, you’ll often be responsible for the higher level or the strategic business analysis activities, like collaborating with high level stakeholders, defining the business needs, providing the overall scope of the project. Then your business analyst team will step in to discover, analyze, and define the detailed requirements.

This requires you to create a business analysis plan that is step four in that business analysis process framework we talked about. But that plan needs to segment your project in a meaningful way. This could be by software system or by stakeholder group, or by a category of features. And then your individual business analysts are responsible for analyzing the business processes, defining the functional requirements, and analyzing the data requirements within their assigned area of work.

Alternatively, if you have BAs that are skilled in, say, business process and others skilled more in data, you could look at sequencing the project to leverage their skillsets and their areas of expertise across all parts of the project. Depending on the size of your team and the work that’s required, you may also need to reassign yourself requirements deliverables as well. You may be doing the leadership of capabilities as well as doing the detailed requirements work for a part of the project.

Lead Business Analyst Success Tip #3 – Implement Knowledge Sharing

Okay, so let’s talk about tip number three, implementing knowledge sharing. If you are new to the business analyst lead role, I’m guessing your head was buzzing a little bit as I was talking about dividing up the work because how does each business analyst actually be effective without seeing the whole big picture? When you are the sole BA on a project, you are responsible for the big picture and all the details. When a requirement in one area impacts another, you just tend to see the impact and make the adjustment. How will this work with business analysts all working in their own silos? Well, you need to break down the silos.

One practice I implemented in my very first business analyst team was doing use case reviews. We met every other week to review one of our peers use cases. We were a small team and we were working on independent projects, so this was more for building best practices and learning from each other and improving our skills than it was for looking at project impacts. Although often we would realize that what one of us was doing that was seemingly unrelated to the other did have a cross impact and we would be able to bring that up to the project management team to handle.

It would work the same way for a team working on a larger project together. You just probably need to allocate a little bit more time. It might be a weekly meeting. It might even be more frequently than that to ensure that everyone is reviewing or having some knowledge flow about what the others are working on so that they can determine the impacts and bring kind of a bigger picture view to each of their individual requirements work.

Lead Business Analyst Success Tip #4 – Maintain a Strategic Level View

Tip number four is for you to maintain that strategic level. I think one of the hardest aspects of moving into any sort of leadership role as a business analyst I still struggle with 14 years into running Bridging the Gap and being CEO of this company, one of the hardest aspects is maintaining the strategic level view. It’s so natural for us to want to be in all the details, and that’s likely what made you successful as a business analyst in the first place. But if you do so, if you’re in all the details of all the requirements, you risk alienating your team in micromanaging their work and quite frankly, burning yourself out. You can’t possibly be in every meeting and you probably are not going to be able to review every document in detail.

You need to stay focused on activities like maintaining the business analysis plan. You need to be supporting your team in navigating roadblocks and challenges. You need to be ensuring everyone is staying focused on delivering those requirements that support the business objectives. You need to be providing leadership within the overall project team, particularly to ensure your business analysts are involved in necessary discussions and informed of any project impacts. You need to be looking at change requests and navigating the impacts between the different aspects of the solution and maintaining communication with your project sponsor or other organizational leaders about the project and opportunity.

You have all the strategic level work to do, and so your work is to focus your energy there and get just enough in the details to make sure that you can do your strategic work effectively. It’s a really tough balance. But by shifting your energy towards the strategic level work and seeing that as important, it will help you let go of the details that your team can handle. Tip number five is really going to help you with this.

Lead Business Analyst Success Tip #5 – Coach Your Business Analysts

Tip number five is to coach your business analyst. This could be, and for me, it’s always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job especially if you’re working with a team of more junior level business analysts, they’re going to need your support in finessing their documentation, navigating the tricky stakeholder issues that for you have become just part of the job will be earth shattering for them, and they’ll need your help in figuring out how to navigate these things and learning how to grow and expand in their career. They might need assistance working through the plan you set out for them.

If you happen to be working with more mid-level or even other senior level business analysts, your more role might be more of a mentor for them professionally and an ability to provide some support for their ongoing career advancement. Either way, the most important thing I found when coaching is to meet each person where they are individually. What are their strengths and capabilities? How can I support them in building on those capabilities and adding more value to the organization?

How can I help them appreciate the value that they contribute so that they can see a bigger set of possibilities for themselves? This is when you start to move into a true champion for business analyst and you start leaving a long lasting legacy of impact, not just through whatever project you happen to be working on, but also on the people who thrive under your leadership and take their skills and capabilities with them as they grow their careers.

I have to say, as somebody who trains business analysts and who has led business analyst teams, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing somebody that you have helped somewhere along their journey, thrive and succeed and go beyond where they were when you first interacted with them and do amazing things in their business analyst career. It’s really fun.

Find More Success as a Business Analyst Lead

If you are a lead business analyst and you are looking to support your team’s growth, or if you’re someone who’s aspiring to become a lead BA, at Bridging the Gap, we offer a wide range of resources that can help you. In fact, we find many BA leads share our resources with their team, sharing our YouTube channel, sharing our blog, sharing our LinkedIn page, all of the resources that we offer, and that will help them get up to speed on what’s expected and navigate this complex career path.

One of the most popular resources is our quick start to success workshop. This workshop provides both career advice and guidance on being effective on a project, making it a valuable resource for both beginners and experienced professionals. By exploring this workshop with a beginner’s mind, you’re also going to find a lot of value. You can put yourself in the shoes of the business analyst on your team and gain a better understanding of their needs and challenges.

It’s a completely free workshop that you can both join and share with your business analysts.

>> Sign up for the FREE workshop <<

Also, I want you to know that a lead business analyst role is just one of the many opportunities for growth as you become more senior as a business analyst.

Be sure to check out our video below on six different potential areas of responsibility for a senior business analyst role if you’re interested in growing in this career.

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Laura Brandenburg

Quick Start to Success
as a Business Analyst

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