The PM v BA on a Project

The PM Role and BA Role on a Project

One of the main challenges in setting up a project is defining the roles. No two roles’ boundaries are as close and in some areas overlapping as the roles of the Project Manager and the Business Analyst.

Both the PM and BA play leadership roles—the PM for leading the team and delivering the solution and the BA for ensuring that the solution meets the business need and aligns with business and project objectives. And both roles, equally, are required for project success.

Business Analyst and Project Manager Comparison

I have a hard time deciding whether “versus” is a good word to compare the two roles. On one hand, the project manager and business analyst should be working collaboratively. On the other hand, the two roles do offer a healthy contest in project related decisions. The issue at hand is that there is a lot of uncertainty about the difference in these roles. The result of this uncertainty is cases where one person plays both roles without enough skills for each, and other cases where the team members do not know who is responsible for what. Hopefully, we can clear this up.

The core of the difference is in the title.
The Project Manager manages the project – “The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to provide activities to meet the project requirements.”
The Business Analyst conducts business analysis – “The set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to meet its goals.

Analysis of PM Role and BA Role

Stakeholder analysis is one good example of collaboration between project manager and business analyst. The business analyst focuses on stakeholders specific to the requirements and scope of the project. The project manager is looking beyond this to stakeholders whose interest is outside of the project scope. Perhaps the project manager is recording a competitor as a stakeholder to aid in the identification and tracking of potential project risk. The stakeholder analysis is a joint effort. Assign items resulting from the stakeholder analysis to either the project manager or business analyst based on stakeholder interest and influence.

Another point of confusion is in the PMBOK® task of Collecting Requirements. It looks as though the project manager is responsible for collecting requirements. When you look further at the PMBOK® tasks you also find Quality Control, yet we know the project team has members responsible for product quality. The intent of the PMBOK© is that project managers take responsibility to ensure activities for collecting requirements are covered in the project management plan and monitored along with the project. Not the project manager collects the requirements.

In either case the boundaries of the role definitions are often blurred. In any professional environment, I would expect that the Business Analyst can manage a small project if the need arose. Equally I would expect a Project manager to be able to stand in as a Business Analyst on a temporary basis or on a short assignment.
I would encourage this practice as this will give either discipline a strong sense of what it is like to walk in each other’s shoes. You will also build a team that is structured but flexible.

Project Management and Delivery

The PMBOK© and the BABOK® will not in themselves get a project delivered but they provide an excellent point of reference for organizing activates, managing people and creating schedules. The administration system behind these two BOKs is extremely effective in laying out a project at the onset and in running the project and reporting on progress.

People deliver projects, we mustn’t forget that.

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic.
Need help?

If you are struggling to come to terms with repetitive project issues and you need some advice or support, contact us by email: info@systeme.ie with some background on your particular issue and we’ll be in touch.

Download our Project Team Motivation Guide Here