The Business Analyst and the Project Manager

There is much debate about the potential for overlap and conflict between the role of project manager and the business analyst. Interestingly enough, many project managers perform business analysis work early in their projects—developing feasibility studies, business cases, scope statements, and business-level requirements as part of project selection, initiation, and scope definition. Many project managers were part of the business analysis team earlier in their careers. As a result, many project managers have business analysis skills to complement and overlap their project management skill set.

The project manager’s responsibilities differ from the responsibilities of the business analyst in several ways. The project manager focuses on meeting the project objectives. They initiate, plan, and manage the project. The project manager makes sure the project team delivers a solution that meets requirements, the acceptance criteria, and the customer’s quality expectations. The project manager balances the many constraints present on a project, such as scope, budget, schedule, resources, quality, and risk. On a large project, the business analysis team is only one part of the project resources the project manager is managing.

The business analyst and the project manager typically work closely together on projects and must maintain good communications. However, there is potential for the project manager and the business analyst to be in conflict with one another. The business analyst works with key stakeholders to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization and to recommend solutions. The project manager focuses on planning and managing the project to achieve the project objectives and deliver those solutions to the stakeholders. Where are they going to step on each other’s toes? There are two key areas for conflict: stakeholder communication and planning.

The project manager and the business analyst both need to communicate well with key stakeholders. Without planning and discussion, the project manager and the business analyst could easily come to blows about who “owns” the stakeholders, when in actuality the project “owns” the stakeholders. A good project-level communications plan needs to be built and followed to minimize potential areas of political game play and conflict. As far as planning goes, the business analysis team must remember that it is a subset of the project team. As such, any business analysis work plans they put together must be consistent with and roll up into the overall project plan.

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