Business Analysis is the practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.
-International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) definition
Build on Your Delivered Business Value
As the result of their leadership during the solution-definition phases of a project, Business Analysts are intimately familiar with the value that the project solution delivers to the organization. They learn tremendous amounts not only about the solution, but also about the business areas and customers that will be putting it through its paces.
In the classic setup, once the project concludes, the Business Analyst’s knowledge tends to get put on a shelf. In some cases, the Analyst may become an application expert, but the business expertise that they gained during the project has nowhere to go.
Rather than letting that knowledge dissipate, organizations can benefit from placing their Business Analysts in informal leadership positions in impacted business areas post-implementation. The business areas benefit from the Business Analysts’ fundamental understanding of the solution and former problem space; the Analysts benefit from the opportunity to provide guidance and leadership outside of the project context. Ultimately, it’ll reinforce their appreciation for building solutions that can sustain and be sustained by the business.
Reinforce Your Analytic Mindset
We tend to distinguish between thinkers and doers. However, in the modern business environment, thinking is doing. The creative and thorough analysis of strategies, processes, technology, and data is essential to keeping your enterprise functioning, growing, and improving.
And it’s not just analyst teams that need to have this mindset. Continuous improvement requires people throughout an organization—at all levels, and in all departments—to have an appreciation for understanding, analyzing, and enhancing the way that they work.
Given this need, consider how many managers, directors, and VPs in your organization have an analytical background. Chances are, it’s not enough. And if you have a pool of skilled business analysts, you have a pool of analytically minded potential leaders waiting to be tapped.
Grow Your Analysts’ Leadership Skills
No one’s suggesting that you can take a Business Analyst by the elbow and stand them up over a department of 50 people with no prior management experience. Nor is it the case that every Business Analyst makes a good leader. Just as with any other role, it varies from person to person and requires effective cultivation.
So look at the highly skilled individual contributors in this pool with an eye to how they can lead. Embrace their leadership role on projects and the guidance that they have to offer the broader organization. Mentor them in the complexities of not only navigating organizational politics and personalities but harnessing their skills and knowledge to move your enterprise forward. And give them the opportunities to accept responsibilities outside of the project realm in which they’re fully accountable for the actions of their team. Your organization, your projects, and your analysts all will benefit.
This is an excerpt from the Global Knowledge white paper, The Business Analyst as a Leader.