Good project managers value their project team members highly and build their egos along the way through the project engagement until the project is over. As many “good jobs”, “way to goes”, and “wows” you can give them the better. And the more you can say that in front of the project client, executive management, and the rest of the team, the better as well. Don’t overdo it, of course, but certainly don’t be understated. Build them up – you won’t be sorry. Everyone likes positive praise now and then, right?
To that end, I’d like to outline my three reasons why, on technical implementations, my business analyst (BA) is better than yours. I realize this is all hypothetical. I don’t know you, I don’t know your business analyst, and I certainly don’t know if you are managing IT projects. But this is basically a list of what a good business analyst – from my experience – has brought to the table for me and the projects I manage.
Without further ado, here’s my list…
My BA engages the customer. My business analyst rocks because he is able to engage the customer and manage the customer through meetings and requirements analysis sessions like a project manager while still being able to capture the critical information and drive the proper technical conversation that has to happen. This type of “out of the gate” behavior will endear the business analyst to the project sponsor and customer team and enable him to get critical business process and policy insight that might otherwise be overlooked. And information like that which can be very important to truly understanding how the customer business works will result in more detailed and accurate requirements which in turn will result in a better overall project scope…meaning in the end you’re more likely to actually deliver exactly what the customer wants and needs. Win!
My BA can think like a developer. I always say that a technical project manager is more likely to be successful and will win over the technical/development team members he is overseeing faster as well as gain the respect and confidence of the project customer if he has a technical background. I believe the same to be true of the business analyst. In fact, due to the nature of the business analyst’s work on a technical project – which includes requirements analysis, some design and configuration work on certain projects, and overall technical consultation – having the technical background is probably even more critical for them than it is for the project manager. The right BA with the right technical acumen and experience and customer management skills may very well be the most valuable player on the project team because of the type of tasks they end up handling from start to finish on the engagement.
My BA represents the project and team well. I can count on my BA to represent the project well, the needs of the team well, and the goals of the organization because he is well versed in all of these areas. Seriously, the BA needs to be almost the overall leader of the project. Not really, because the project manager is expected to meet the needs of that role and most do that very well. But in terms of what a great business analyst brings to the table on a project in the way of technical expertise (not deep, but deep enough) and leadership (not king of the hill, but the ability to be that when needed), and customer manager (not customer’s best friend, but certainly can seem that way in the most favorable of situations), the BA can easily seem and often appear to be the most important cog in the overall project wheel.
I’m not saying my BA has always been the best on all of my projects, though they have always been expected to be the right hand role to the project manager on every project that I’ve had one available to me. And they are often the most frequent face in front of the customer on a mostly remote project. But these three characteristics are important to the BA role on a technical project – at least from my experiences – and if I have a BA with these available to me, then my BA is always going to be better than yours.