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PM VS. BA PART 3: WHY YOU NEED BOTH FOR SUCCESS. DIVIDE AND CONQUER!

Business analysts bridge the divide between business and IT staff to ensure everyone is on the same page with the business needs that the final product should fulfill. Here are the reasons why you need both a business analyst and project manager.

 

  1. Validating requirements 

Often, large IT development projects begin with the acceptance of a bid based on a set of requirements. Who better than the PM, who wrote those requirements, and an experienced analyst to find the right vendors or even help evaluate solutions in some cases?

  1. Maintaining requirements after vendor selection

The gap between the requirements phase and the start of the project is often several months or more. This means those valuable requirements may no longer be as representative of current business practices as they were when they were written. Organizations need someone who can adequately review those existing requirements and work with staff to determine the relevance and accuracy of those requirements.

  1. Translating complicated business processes during development

Every organization must detail their existing or new processes as the project progresses. However, the business staff are expert team members with no experience with the organization or by technical professionals who can understand them.

  1. Data conversions and migrations

Most product owners understand exactly what data is supposed to exist but don’t have the expertise to define how that data is supposed to get there or how to confirm that it is the correct data. The project manager can organize the tasks and review process. A business analyst can be essential to a project by working with staff in defining, mapping, converting, and validating the data in a new or updated application.

  1. Change management

Ensuring change is accepted is critical to the long-term success of a project. A PM’s job is to ensure the change adoption, with a “ground level” understanding of the work from the staff perspective. However, if a project does not have the resources for a full-time change practitioner, a business analyst with the holistic view of the project can help staff understand how project changes will affect their work processes.

 

 

 

The Main Problems of Interaction Between the BA and PM

 

But is everything so smooth on the project when these roles are separated? Of course, there will always be difficulties. The only way to avoid drawbacks and problems is if there is no project whatsoever. We’ve singled out several options.

  • “Too effective” communication with stakeholders. The BA and PM, often being extroverts with pronounced communication skills, may unwillingly interfere with each other while communicating with project participants.
  • Different understanding of project risks. For an analyst, these are, first, inaccurate requirements, for a project manager—terms, resources, administrative aspects.
  • Unsynchronized expectations. For example, the manager wants the analyst to manage the team, or the analyst wants the manager to tell you how to write the technical requirements.
  • Unrealistic expectations (like, finish two months’ worth of tasks in a day)
  • Poor or incomplete fulfillment of expectations
  • Failure of expectations (like finishing tasks not on time or not at all)
  • Misunderstanding (lack of feedback, reluctance, or inability to clarify details)

 

 

And again, it all comes down to experience:

 

Experienced Manager

Inexperienced Manager

 

Experienced Analyst

Despite the seemingly winning option, there are certain risks. Sometimes “divide of the territory” comes with experienced staff. Since both the PM and BA interact with the same stakeholders, often work with the same documents, friction may arise—especially when the PM does not consider it necessary to share all the information on the project. Or the analyst, guided by the same motives, hides any artifacts (documents, etc.). An unlikely situation that still carries its risks for the project. Almost the opposite effect will be obtained if the PM is not able to adhere to the timing. One of the undesirable scenarios of events may be the unwillingness of the PMs to understand the analyst and agree to support him/her when discussing the project deadline with the interested parties.

Inexperienced Analyst

The risk for the project can be considered the likelihood of pressure from the Republic of Nowhere to meet the agreed timeframe, budget, and resources. An inexperienced BA is sometimes simply unable to convince the project manager that it is necessary to spend more time on retrieving the requirements (and since the BA is inexperienced, it will take him/her much longer). With a sigh, we wish the project team good luck on the project and patience.

 

A good solution for any of the abovementioned options can be a discussion and a clear division of the responsibilities at the project initialization stage. Despite the ongoing debate about the feasibility of separating the roles of business analyst and project manager, effective communication between them is no less important. A BA should be flexible like no other, being at the junction of various communication groups. Flexible in dealing with stakeholders, flexible in the choice of methods of working with requirements.

 

How to Improve or Build a Relationship With a Manager?

 

So, analyst advice on how to build, improve, or build upon a relationship with a manager (and vice versa):

  • Make a list of mutual expectations and synchronize it with the manager. It does not matter if some things that the manager wants from you: you will not be able to provide—at least you will know them. By the way, it is likely that the manager will also not be able to meet all your expectations at once.
  • Follow the agreement and periodically re-synchronize. As part of your professional growth, you will learn all the new knowledge and skills that will help you meet the expectations of your manager more. Yes, and the manager may have new expectations.
  • Take on new commitments and go beyond expectations (in a good way). That is what your professional growth is. A good manager (if this will allow the project and the company) will certainly mark your aspirations and achievements.
  • Try it in “the other shoes.” For example, if you’re a BA—put yourself in the manager’s place, imagine what difficulties may worry him most. This will give you an understanding of how to organize your work effectively and help the PM.

 

Not all problems can be sounded openly, which is quite natural because we all have flaws (which we try to get rid of, right?). Sometimes some difficulties are not at all related to personal characteristics: if the PM is overwhelmed with organizational work and does not have the opportunity to often communicate with developers, while the BA spends most of the time with the team, then it makes sense for the BA to help the project manager by performing some of his/her duties. In the end, everyone will win. The main trick is that such a situation does not become “business as usual,” and the manager does not “delegate” all his/her duties to the analyst, having completely removed himself/herself from work.

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