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.
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.
About the Author
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.
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