Tips on Evolving from a Business Analyst to a Project Manager

According to 2010 Project Management Salary Survey, developed by ASPE-SDLC and TenStep, a project manager achieves a salary hike of $4,982 per year after getting PMP certification. The study also revealed that the salary of a project manager increases by $1,060 per year for every additional year of work experience. Due to the rewarding nature of the job, many professionals aim to achieve this job title. Business analysts represent a large portion of these aspirants. However, for some, the transition from a business analyst to project manager may take longer than desired. Let’s discuss what it takes to move from a business analyst to a project manager.

The transition from Business Analyst to Project Manager: How to go about it

Let’s first consider how viable it is for a business analyst to think of becoming a project manager. Do their skills and responsibilities match somewhere down the line? Well, they do, but only to a certain extent. For example, both of a business analyst and a project manager needs strong communication skills, know-how of the systems development life-cycle (SDLC), client management skills and interpersonal skills.

In fact, in the initial stages of a business project, some responsibilities may overlap. A project is first assigned to a project manager. He is primarily responsible for the planning and decision making. But then, decisions can’t be made without recognizingthe challenges and risks associated with the project. This is where a business analyst comes in. Like the project manager, he also needs to understand the ins and outs of the project.

Along with these similarities, there are certain differences in the roles and responsibilities of the two professions. For a smooth transition from the role of a business analyst (BA) to a project manager (PM), a BA should develop the following qualities:

  • Keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind – The role of a business analyst is mostly detail-oriented. For example, a business analyst needs to analyze a financial statement to know what the numbers in the statement are actually indicating. On the other hand, a PM should learn how to get things done by the team. If a PM spends much of his time in checking the details, he may miss some of his other important responsibilities.
  • Management skills – Basic management skills, such as decision making, team management and leadership skills are prerequisites for a project manager. While a business analyst’s role is to describe how to perform a task, a project manager leads the team to get the task done. While a business analyst is responsible for identifying risks, a project manager’s role is to take action to eliminate risks.
  • Organizational skills – A project manager also needs outstanding organizational skills. This is another skill that a business analyst should develop. He needs to remain in touch with the different levels of an organization – starting from supervisors to officers. This requires excellent time management skills and interpersonal skills. A project manager should also maintain documentation and records so that he can share it with team members and clients whenever necessary.

One of the key skills of a business analyst that sets them in good stead for becoming a project manager, is ‘problem solving skills’. A business analyst spends a lot of time analyzing a situation or problem to determine the best outcome.  A project manager also spends a large amount of their time solving problems, the main difference here is you need to be able to come up with a quick solution, taking many variables into account and the problems can vary greatly throughout the project.

Only when you seek out responsibilities and demonstrate the ability to take initiative beyond the scope of your job title will you be able to get noticed for higher positions within the company. Once you acquire the status of an analyst who can be trusted with organizational growth, you will find it easier to become a part of discussions that would otherwise happen among the seniors within the company. So, try to develop the abovementioned skills in order to move to a project manager quickly.

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Kyle Lemire liked this post

  1 comment for “Tips on Evolving from a Business Analyst to a Project Manager

  1. Ben
    March 5, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Great article! I’m a BA at the moment and looking to move into project management, so this is definitely a post I’ll be reading again in the future.

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