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Will PMI Agree that BA Must Precede Projects?

Behold the world’s shortest BA column (well, for me so far, anyway):

We have been discussing the great challenges to BA that I listed a few months ago.

Last month I dumped my own idea – that of having professional recognition for BAs at the level of accountants and attorneys. Not having it or having it – either way it is a great challenge for the profession (for now, we hide, not knowing what to do).

This month, I make the following points about PMI and IIBA cooperation, the second great challenge:

Many PMPs, upon first meeting a CBAP (myself) say: “I wish they would turn you guys loose before management just dumps some of the “projects” (actual word was not projects) they dump on us!”

Point well taken – it is a lot easier to make project estimates and plans when decent scoping and some due diligence (requirements and stakeholder investigation) is done up front.

When things do change, they are likely to be less radical, or if radical, they tend to pay of way better for the trouble taken to discover them (always remember that every project is a “team PhD” research effort, and change can be good when learning leads the way).

It is not fair to dump on PMPs. It IS dumping when a list of what Ivar Jacobsen calls “requirements assertions” gets laid on a project manager with a budget and a deadline. I get to say this because usually the PM dumps it on me (the BA), so I know, I know.

I acknowledge that this approach does not violate the rule of “you can tell me how fast, you can tell me how much, or you can tell me how good – pick any two”.

It doesn’t, because management only tells how long and how much – they typically DON’T tell how good, they just pretend they did, so they can complain and blame when they don’t get what they “wanted”.

Finally – how the HECK does anyone do earned value, when they aren’t even sure what anything is worth?

I call on PMPs to acknowledge this pre-project “analysis” gap, and to support BAs in the important task of filling it.

Don’t go crazy – not every project is worth a business case, and doesn’t that say something right there?

Let me know if you agree.