Wednesday, 08 June 2016 08:25

5 Things Business Analysts Wish Their Project Manager Knew

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There is no doubt about it if there is a project manager assigned to the project – and surveys show that about 85% of the time there is – then they are in charge. The other 15% of the time the business analyst or possibly even a technical lead or other project leadership position may be running the show. But it is usually the project manager's job to run the project.

Communication is the PM's key responsibility, and the rest revolves around that. Business to tech liaison is the business analyst's key role on most technical projects and the rest of their tasks pretty much revolve around that one key concept. It goes without saying that project success relies heavily on how well they manage to handle their separate tasks while interacting effectively with each other throughout the project engagement.

Related Article: Project Manager vs Business Analyst

That said, the business analyst plays a huge role – a very key role – in every project's success. I think it is essential that a business analyst is assigned to every project of any mentionable size and technical nature.

But the project manager doesn't know everything, nor can they read the business analyst's mind. So, for this article, I'm going to try to do something about that and read the mind of a business analyst and give you a list of five things that business analysts wish their project manager knew about the business analyst's role and responsibilities are on the project.

They can handle it, so step aside.

The project liaison position is theirs to oversee. They are the go-between the project manager and the technical team. That, of course, doesn't mean the project manager can't interact with the technical team. But for the purpose of the down and dirty work of translating business process into design, that work is the business analyst's to perform in conjunction with the tech lead and technical development team. The project manager has enough project administration work today.

The customer likely feels more comfortable working with them.

No offense, project managers. You definitely have your job to do. And it is critical in nature. But the business analyst also has their job to do, and that starts with immediately working with the customer on understanding their business processes and how to interpret those into detailed, complex project requirements. Let them do that – unless they also need your help doing it – and the customer will be much happier.

Some tasks shouldn't cost $300 per hour.

More on the “overlap” concept of project manager and business analyst duties. Sometimes these two entities need to work very closely together. Sometimes you only need one of them. Often times they are the most expensive resource on the project – charging out to the project client at $150 - $200 or more per hour. Many of those project tasks don't require $300 per hour of effort, and you'll make the project budget go much further if you don't allow that. Plus, your client satisfaction will be much higher the longer you make that project budget last.

Divide and conquer project tasks whenever possible. Don't needlessly double up the effort and expense to the client.

They really are there to work closely with the tech team.

Hopefully the business analyst is available to the project manager and entire team throughout the entire engagement. I really feel that a good business analyst is tantamount to success on a project. But what they aren't there for is to be a "helper" for the project manager. They have many key tasks to take care of on their own, and rarely is project manager “helper” one of those tasks or role titles.

There are those projects where the project manager or the business analyst can and do fill both of these roles, but not usually on large, complex, highly technical and / or highly visible projects. Those very detailed projects require a separation of roles. And on a technical project, much of the business analyst's time is spent working closely with the technical lead on the project and the rest of the technical team.

The project manager's help is always welcome.

Both the project manager and business analyst are likely slammed with work on a big, complex, technical project. And both may have other projects they are leading or contributing to. But even though you should avoid doubling effort and expense needlessly on the project, the business analyst will still welcome the project manager's input and assistance on many or most tasks when the PM is available. And the reverse is true as well. Just use good judgement in how much you double effort and how much of that gets charged to the project client. That budget oversight responsibility falls squarely on the project manager's shoulders, so watch the budget carefully and you should be ok.

Summary / call for input

Good project managers and business analysts – especially if they've worked together before – can really gel on the big projects. I'm not talking about completing each other's sentences - that would be a little creepy though I've seen it and been a part of it on one critical project. But how well the project manager and business analyst work together and with the rest of the team can definitely spell success or failure on the project. That relationship is probably the most critical one on the engagement. But the project manager doesn't always know what the business analyst wants, needs or is thinking, so spell it out. Communication, after all, is critical to project success.

How about our readers? What are your thoughts on the project manager / business analyst roles? If you're a business analyst, what are the top five things you wish your project manager knew without being reminded or told? Please share and discuss.

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Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 10, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.

Comments  

+1 # Mary Boldt 2016-06-09 14:04
YES, YES, YES! Great article.
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+1 # Michael Frazier 2016-06-09 15:36
While there are many terrific points in this article, I disagree with the relationship suggested between the PM and BA on a project. A newer theory has risen. Where the PM and BA are working side by side, sharing the responsibilitie s in a partnership of leadership, communication, and collaboration. Both share direct contact with the project sponsor, while the BA is the direct contact to stakeholders, the PM is the direct contact to resource managers for allocation of resources. The BA engages the core team regarding requirements while the PM engages the core team regarding assignments. Furthermore, the BA is responsible for gathering information, assessing business needs, developing requirements, managing project scope, and stakeholder communication. Whereas the PM is responsible for recommending solutions, managing the project schedule, and managing the projects resources. This is the Theory of Shared Goals. A combined approach to the segregation of duties each is responsible for. This theory is currently instructed in more and more BA education programs. If only the approach to the project was more widely accepted.
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+2 # Charles Moone, PMP 2016-06-09 19:08
As a Project Manager, I know that Business Analysts are essential to understanding what a project is supposed to deliver and what it is supposed to do!
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0 # Dale Baromen, BA 2016-06-10 00:50
I absolutely agree. Nothing is more frustrating than a project manager who steps on your toes when you're trying to elicit requirements or - heaven forbid - makes decisions and gets requirements without your knowledge. While everyone in the team is there to help out, and while I absolutely appreciate all the work the PM does and the buffer they provide against silly politics, a clear definition of roles is also very important.
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0 # Kit 2016-06-10 04:34
Thumbs up! To add...

Most of the time, due to PM being very conscious on changing "what they have scheduled/plann ed", the technical team directly huddles with the BA which is not ideal. They should be the frontline of their concern especially that it's not BA's role to fix the hours up.

Another is, process..report s..process which sometimes is already a duplicate of what is already being done by the BAs. One example is the list of scope for a release -- instead of BA sending it to the whole team, he/she has to wait for the PM to lead that while putting up a few PM'ish details that most of the time the technical team does not appreciate at all. This affects the timeliness of information being passed on to the team.
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0 # Tom Hussey 2016-06-21 11:17
A good conversation to be initiating. One of my frustrations is that every time I start a new project with a new project manager there's a significant amount of effort required around expectation setting on my role. It would be good if there was some shared understanding that we could all sign up to without having to re-invent the wheel each project!
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0 # R Levine 2016-06-23 21:50
I'm going to give this article to many members of my project - it will really help them (and me) understand the roles / resp of PM and BA in this project. Great article and very timely. Thanks.
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+1 # Raghu S 2016-07-08 09:20
Absolutely agree- PM's should let BA's get on with it. I always get nervous when people use multiple titles BD/BA/PM- you are one or the other, you cannot be a 'jack of all trades'...Howev er it is the PM's job to facilitate the delivery of the project and ensure it delivers what it promises (Business case realisation). The BA needs to ensure they represent the business and ensure the Technical teams have the business understanding to allow for appropriate solutions to be built.
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