Geraint Dawe DL CoP Lead

Tech Focus Thu 3rd February, 2022

From business analyst to delivery lead with…Raz Rafiq

Following on from the moving from being a software engineer to data engineer blog series, I thought it would be useful to follow a similar pattern looking at how business analysts migrate to the role of delivery lead.

The hope is that people who are considering becoming a delivery lead to use these blog posts to make a more informed choice, by identifying the skills required to make the transition, and highlighting the similarities in the two roles.

Today I am interviewing Raz Rafiq.

What inspired you to make the move from a business analyst to a delivery lead?
Since I started contracting around seven years ago my roles have always been more hybrid BA/DL than DL alone. When working as a contractor you just chuck all the hats on! During this time, I realised that my skill set and way of working aligned more to the DL role in terms of process improvements and coaching.

I found I really enjoyed the flexibility of looking at a bigger and more holistic picture and helping a team to achieve their full potential. DLs I worked with in the past recognised this and advised me to go forward for the DL interview. Imposter syndrome kicked in, and as a result, I never went for it! More on that later…

I eventually decided to go for it though around 18months ago, and 9 months later landed my current position of DL at HMRC.

What key skills have you gained as a business analyst that has helped you as a delivery lead?
Key skills that I’ve built on from my life as a BA can be whittled down to the following categories:

People – the ability to connect with team members, understand their needs and help them grow, all while keeping an eye on team success.

Organisation – being able to absorb the big picture but then also break it down into its smaller parts to ensure we as a team can deliver on the expectation.

Diplomacy – as a BA you always have to meander difficult conversations with tact and skill. This is even more important as a DL with the extra layer of senior stakeholders.

What do you see as the major differences between the two roles?
The increase in the number of meetings you need to facilitate and attend. Although I have a feeling if you speak to my current team they would probably say I’m my own worst enemy on that front!

I’ve found that the key difference between the roles has been the leadership and direction that is now expected from me. As a BA, the team members often looked in my direction from a requirements perspective with regards to direction, this has now changed and is more in the sense of delivery.

Alongside this, I’ve found that as a DL I’ve learnt to become more confident in my decision making in ‘delivering the right thing’ – it’s not all on the shoulders of the DL as what we do is a team sport – but coupled with the expectation of servant leadership, sometimes I’ve found that means coming forward and making that decision with confidence.

Any advice for prospective delivery leads out there?
Don’t delay and apply today! I deferred my application for a while, partly due to imposter syndrome, and partly due to the right opportunity not presenting itself.

The great thing about making the transition here at EE is that a helpful and engaged community is never further away than a Slack channel. I’ve found that knowing this has given me confidence in sanity checking thoughts, keeping up with best practices, and also that feeling of belonging.

Also, worth noting that as a BA, you’re probably already well on your way in terms of skill set!

My only other key bit of advice is to assess the many opportunities available for you to transition and as there are many out there, pick the one that you feel is right for you in terms of making that transition.

Do you have any regrets about making the move?
Only one…not taking the plunge sooner!