How do you successfully navigate something like three separate business analyst lead changes in four months, where the team lead knows vital information about the team’s role in the larger project? By being prepared for change, and using the following process to make for smoother transitions.
When the lead of a project changes, the first thing to do is collect all of the current documentation regarding the project. This can include meeting notes, status reports, presentations, and any important project emails. All of this information will help provide context to the new project lead and allow them to see the historical decisions that were made.
The next step is to speak with the various people involved in the project to get a better feel for the project. A new lead will have many questions after they have reviewed the documentation and talking with people will enable them to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Depending at what stage the project is it, it is not uncommon for the first informational stage to take up to a week.
The best type of transitions will have both the departing and arriving team leads working on the project at the same time so that the old lead can work with the team while the new lead ramps up. However, it is possible to use a junior team member who can handle the transitional lead role during the ramp-up time ensure that the team does not fall behind in their work.
Once the first transitional phase has passed, the new lead will begin to take more ownership of the responsibilities and the work the team is completing. There is always the potential for growing pains as some of the processes change to suit the new lead’s preferences. The key thing here is to always focus on the project’s business objectives and ensure that the approach taken is helping drive towards meeting those objectives.
Even we business analysts are not immune to the problem of becoming set in our ways and straying from the true goal of our job. A new lead has the opportunity to arrive and correct a team’s course if they have drifted away from business objectives, since they will be able to view a team’s work objectively. (An existing team lead often has a vested interest in keeping the status quo.) Once the team has adapted to changes in the processes, it will soon be moving along at the same pace as under the previous lead.
Changes to the composition of any team are always significant, and have the potential for project risk and repercussions. Making such a change on the fly during a project has even more potential risk. By working closely with the departing and arriving team members as well as keeping an open mind to new ideas, transitions can be achieved seamlessly, much as we did on our “three leads in four months” experience.