Do you remember the feeling of being unable to complete a puzzle due to one or more missing pieces? Not a great feeling considering the amount of time & effort you have put into it.
Now think of this in terms of a project.
- The project is your puzzle
- The project manager is your outside pieces
- The key milestones are your pieces in the middle
You may kick-start a project with the belief that all milestones will be met and each activity performed will be in scope, within budget etc. However, as time goes on it starts to dawn on you that at least one piece is missing, then two, three, and so on… this is where the Business Analyst thrives.
Business Analysts, as the name suggests, look closely at problems, applying analytical thinking using a combination of data, tools, techniques, models & at times intuition to propose solutions to such problems.
If utilised correctly, Business Analysts can be deployed to “fill in the gaps” (or “find the missing pieces”) by performing one or more of the following activities;
- Gathering requirements & collating in a concise Business Requirements Specification document
- Conducting gap analyses & supporting action plans
- Detailing coherent procedures to support new or revised processes
- Mapping out the “as is” & “to be” processes
- Performing compliance reviews to ensure requirements have been fulfilled
More often than not the role of the Business Analyst is overlooked, not to mention the value a skilled BA can have on a project.
Within a project team a Business Analyst may support the Project Manager with detailed analysis to aid design and implementation phases. Alternatively a project team can have a Project Manager/Business Analyst - the best of both worlds. Let’s look at the value that both roles can add within projects and how combining these roles can enhance this value.
The trusted project manager:
- Provides structure, control, coordination & direction to a project.
- Highlights key milestones, activities & deliverables.
- Reports, often at a higher-level & they will chase you when you’re late or your work is MIA.
- Is one with the plan, the shepherd to your sheep.
The overlooked business analyst:
- Stares problems in the face without flinching.
- Relentlessly analyses, analyses & analyses some more until an appropriate solution reveals itself.
- Uses their detailed, often logical, manner to detail processes, procedures, requirements… you name it, and they’ve done it.
- Has detail as their middle name… and first and second.
So how can these two polar opposite skill sets work in harmony? In short, the answer is multi-skilled individuals who are flexible in their approach to solving business problems.
Let’s take an example. You have just been asked to lead a project to deliver a system change.
PM: Outline the plan
BA: Collate requirements
PM: Understand the sequence of key activities/deliverables
BA: Prioritise requirements & propose design for system change
PM: Release & communicate change
BA: Conduct a compliance review on implemented design against initial requirements.
PM: Carry out a lessons learned exercise
I could go on…
This, I hope, demonstrates the harmonic partnership of a Project Manager and Business Analyst when it comes to managing a project.
Here, at Greenlight, the majority of our Consultants are multi-skilled as both Project Managers/Business Analysts (PM/BAs) of which has added significant value to our Clients’ projects.
So all that is left to say is, why have one or the other when you can the best of both worlds?
About the Author
Kimberley was the first of our Graduates and boy has she excelled. She has become a true all round business analyst and project manager, delivering large scale change and handling complex business requirements.