The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst

Written by  Vicki James

vickyJune6I 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.

One source of confusion is the activities in both sets of tasks according to the relevant Body of Knowledge[i]. The intent is that planning and monitoring tasks within the BABOK® are limited to business analysis activities as indicated by the task title.

PMBOK® Task BABOK® Task
4.2 Develop Project Management Plan 2.3 Plan Business Analysis Activities
2.5 Plan Requirements Management
2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance
4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work 2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance
5.1 Plan Scope Management
5.2 Collect Requirements
2.5 Plan Requirements Management Process
3.1-4 Elicitation: Prepare, Conduct, Document, Confirm
4.2 Manage Requirements Traceability
4.4.5.1 Requirements Documentation
5.3 Define Scope 5.4 Define Solution Scope
5.4 Create WBS
5.6 Control Scope
4.1 Manage Solution Scope
5.4 Define Solution Scope
5.5 Validate Scope 7.5 Validate Solution
8.3 Quality Control (Testing-monitoring and recording results) 7.6 Evaluate Solution Performance(Results analysis and recommendation)
13.1 Identify Stakeholders 2.2 Conduct Stakeholder Analysis
10.1 Plan Communications Management 2.4 Plan Business Analysis Communication
10.2 Manage Communications
10.3 Control Communications
4.5 Communicate Requirements
2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance

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.

Section 5.1 of the CBAP® Handbook does a great job of differentiating “analysis” activities from other activities. Download the CBAP ® handbook from the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) website for detailed examples of these activities.

Volunteers from both the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) and Project Management Institute (PMI©) joined in a collaborative project to “facilitate a shared understanding of the roles.”  The conclusion –

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.

You will get decisions based on full information of the impacts to the project and the benefit of the solution when you have both a strong PM and BA playing leadership roles on your projects. The result is a project that brings greatest business value to the organization.

I had the distinct pleasure of joining Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, as guest experts on PMChat (a weekly Internet radio show/Twitter web chat) to discuss the BA and PM roles on June 1, 2012.

[i] Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 5th Edition
A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) Version 2.0

References

  • Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) website / handbook
  • #PMChat – Project Manager vs. Business Analyst
  • Mindavation Podcast: In My Judgment, the BA Reports to Who? (2:30 minutes)

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