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Top 5 characteristics of the best business analysts

Brad Egeland | Aug. 27, 2015
A look of the top five characteristics that the best of the best business analysts bring to the table.


Previously, I discussed what I considered to be the top 5 characteristics of the best project managers. I’ve spent my 20+ years of managing projects on the technical project management side, so that is the basis of most of my experiences and perceptions. That’s where my top 5 list for PMs came from and that’s where this list will also be based – my top 5 characteristics of the best business analysts. As you read, please be thinking about what you would consider to be the best characteristics of the best business analysts you’ve worked with, seen in action or perhaps you are a BA reading this and have some of your own thoughts on this list. Please share and let’s discuss.

Please forgive me if there seems to be some overlap in the PM/BA characteristics – their leadership roles on the project overlap at times and they are both critical to the success of the project.

1. Analytical. Problems can often be solved in multiple ways. While the business analyst doesn’t need to solve the problem on his own, the input provided by the BA is critical to the process of analyzing customer side business processes and requirements and formulating a project solution with both the project manager and the technical lead and technical analysts on the project. Think of the business analyst as that all-important bridge between the project manager and the technical doers on the project. Sometimes the project manager or business analyst is forced to fill both the PM and BA roles, but in my opinion the best projects have both roles filled by a skilled and experienced PM and a talented BA.

2. Good negotiator. Negotiation skills are important for both the PM and the BA. Often the business analyst is working directly with the project customer on requirements and design issues and must be empowered – and able – to make key decisions and negotiate requirements and milestones and dates with the project customer in order to ensure forward progress on the project.

3. Confident decision maker. As stated, the BA is often working very closely with the customer – working through requirements and functional design, working closely with the tech lead to help create the technical design. Sometimes that will require quick and accurate – and empowered – decision-making on the part of the business analyst. They need to confidently make decisions with the information they have on hand – especially when it’s not something where the entire team is needed to get the decision made. This comes up too often to always call a meeting or have a conference call. The BA who can just “do it” is the BA you want on your team.


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