Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Similarities & Difference Between the Project Manager & Business Analyst

Similarities & Difference Between the Project Manager & Business Analyst
 
 
The best way to guarantee success of any type of project is to have a strong, experienced Project Manager and a strong, experienced Business Analyst. These two individuals, working together from the beginning of the project, set the stage for success by accurately planning and clearly defining the expected outcomes. Both roles are necessary because they are each responsible for a different set of tasks and they each possess a set of skills that complement each other. The two roles are closely tied, but exactly what are the similarities and differences, and why does a project need both? In many organizations, one individual is being asked to play both roles.
 
 
Why Does a Project Need a PM and a BA?
Having both a Project Manager (PM) and a Business Analyst (BA) is critical to a project success. Each role provides specialized capabilities that make the difference between whether a project succeeds or struggles.
 
PMs and BAs each have unique skills and knowledge areas that, when used together, produce a high quality product. They both want the project to be successful and want to satisfy their customer the Executive Sponsor. They both understand the ultimate goal of the project to meet the project objectives. They each work on their own tasks within the project to achieve these objectives. There are some areas of a project where the PM and BA work together or serve as a back-up for each other. There are many other areas where the two individuals diverge and do very different types of tasks.

The PM is responsible for ensuring that the product is delivered to the customer on time and within budget. The BA is responsible for ensuring that the product is built according to the requirements and is built correctly. This difference in focus is the reason that having both roles on the team is critical. The product will be built correctly, according to requirements, on time and within budget!
 
Working Together
So how do the PM and BA work together to make the project a success? Fundamentally, the PM manages project resources (people, money) and the BA manages the business stakeholders. The BA reports to the PM on his or her progress on the tasks in the work breakdown structure (WBS) in relation to requirements. Usually at the beginning of the project the PM and BA work very closely together and often work on the same tasks.

Later as the project gets going, they each focus on their particular responsibilities and talk frequently to share their progress. Excellent PMs and BAs will work hand-in-hand to make the most of each other strengths. It is the healthy tension between the PM and the BA the PM pushing to move forward and the BA cautiously wanting to gather just one more detail before going forward that makes the combination so successful. They are inter-dependent because their goals are in conflict.

At the beginning of the project there are areas of overlapping responsibilities such as project scope definition, development of the project statement of purpose, project objectives and identification of business risks. A strong PM will utilize the analysis skills of the BA to make sure that the scope is feasible and well defined.

The Project Manager
  • Is usually the first person assigned to the project.
  • Is responsible for planning the project and ensuring the team follows the plan.
  • Manages changes, handles problems and keeps the project moving.
  • Manages people, money and risk.
  • Is the chief communicator of good or bad news to the Business Sponsors and IT Management.
The Business Analyst
  • Is usually assigned to the project after it has started.
  • Is responsible for bridging the gap between the business area and IT.
  • Learns the business inside and out.
  • Essentially serves as the architect of effective business systems.
  • Is viewed inconsistently across the industry in regard to job title, definition and responsibilities.

As requirements are gathered, analyzed and documented by the BA, the PM is closely involved, reviewing the requirements and adjusting the plan as necessary. The PM also reviews the decisions made when the BA and technical architect design the solution. Typically the PM reviews all project deliverables at a high level looking for project adjustments and issues. The BA reviews all project deliverables that are related to requirements, solution design and testing; looking in detail to make sure that the business needs are being addressed.

The BA is the advocate for the business area and the PM will report project status and work to resolve issues.


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