“Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.” —BABOK Guide
What this will actually involve depends largely on the size, scale, and nature of your organization. Business analysis (BA) is not defined by your job title as a business analyst (aka BA), but rather by what you do in your workplace.
BA projects need not be IT centric, but many projects often include a system or other technical component. It’s helpful as a BA to have some working knowledge of several of these areas, but you don’t need to be an expert in any of them. The relationship with project management is particularly important.
Business Analysis vs. Project Management
Exact roles and responsibility distinctions between project managers and business analysts can vary by organization or project. BAs may be involved during the earliest phases of project definition. Business analysts primarily focus on the product or service, while project managers focus on the overall project. The BA is responsible for ensuring that the product is built according to requirements.
The role/responsibility boundaries are sometimes blurred so the rules aren’t hard and fast. The PM is overseeing the entire project from concept to implementation and there will likely be areas of overlap between the BA and PM. This is sometimes dependent on how the project is defined (e.g., sometimes project includes requirements documentation, etc., and sometimes it may not).
Here is an example. Imagine that you’re working on a new project concept to develop a reality show targeted at senior citizens. Consider what questions you might ask at the beginning stage of the project.
BA Primary Questions:
• What is driving the need for the show?
• Does this project represent the best interests of the business?
• What elements would seniors want to see in the show (e.g., requirements)?
• What are the benefits and costs associated with this project
PM Primary Questions:
• Who will be on the production team?
• How will we find out what seniors want to see?
• Who will gather show requirements?
• When will casting be completed?
• What is the production schedule?
• What are the executives’ expectations around project completion timing?
• What is the status of production?
• What is the budget?
The business analyst is the subject matter expert on delivering the business and user requirements. The project manager is the subject matter expert on delivering the project on target, on time, and on budget.
For more on Business Analysis/Business Analysts see Learning Tree, Intl. course 211, Business Analysis Introduction: Defining Successful Projects. For more on Project Management/Project Managers see course 296, Project Management: Skills for Success.
James L. Haner
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