In this episode, Ori Schibi discussed how Business Analysts and Project Managers can collaborate better to achieve success on projects and deliver more value to their organization.
After listening to this episode, you'll understand:
- Why BAs and PMs often don’t collaborate well
- Techniques for improving collaboration
- Why a combined BA/PM role doesn’t help
When Project Managers and Business Analysts work together well, projects tend to run smoothly. This kind of partnership means that issues are identified and resolved quickly, knowledge is shared, and everyone gets the support they need to be successful.
Often, good collaboration between PMs and BAs is absent and leads to confusion, loss of productivity, and poor quality.
The role of the Business Analyst is on the rise and the role of the Project Manager continues to evolve. Unfortunately, many times people in these two roles don’t fully understand what the other does.
This gap in understanding means that the two roles can’t fully collaborate and support each other.
A Contentious Relationship
The Project Manager and Business Analyst have different areas of focus and this at times leads to a contentious relationship. The PM focuses on time and budget while the BA focuses on scope and quality of the solution.
Pressure from the PM to complete requirements elicitation faster can cause requirements to be missed. Pressure from the BA to slow down to take time to get the requirements late can result in missed milestones and deadlines.
The key is to understand that we’re all working towards the same goal. Failure to understand the needs and goals of people in each of these roles can lead to a hostile environment.
Better Alignment and Collaboration
Part of the issue is that Project Managers and Business Analysts are measured and rewarded based on different metrics. If your organization can reward both roles based on the same goals and the overall outcome of the project, the result will be better alignment.
Another approach is to work to understand the value and contribution that each brings to the project.
A Project Manager can start by reaching out to the Business Analyst to understand each other’s areas of focus and preferences so you can apply your strengths in the appropriate area.
A Business Analyst can help by preparing a brief package about the project and reviewing it with the Project Manager. Because the BA is often involved earlier in the project (for the business case and project selection), they may have additional information about the project that the PM would need to know to understand the context.
From there, meet to discuss strengths and rules of engagement. Keeping communication open throughout the project will also lead to a better partnership.
A technique to better understand each other’s role involves meeting to understand the value each person brings to the team.
- To start, provide each person with two blank flip charts or pieces of paper.
- On the first page, each person writes down the value and contribution we bring to the team.
- Each person switches paper so you can see the value that the other person brings.
- On the second piece of paper, write down how you can help the other person achieve that value, what you need from that person, and what you should do together.
- When done, review each page together and ask questions to gain a better understanding.
The Problem with a Combined Role
In some organizations, we find a combined PM/BA role. While this solves the role understanding issue, this leads to other challenges.
On larger projects, a person in a combined role may experience capacity issues. This could lead to delays, which is one of the issues we were trying to prevent with a combined role.
The other issue with a combined role is focus. While the focus of the PM (time and budget) and that of the BA (scope and quality) can by opposing forces, they balance each other. With a combined role, it’s difficult to see both sides and achieve the balance needed to satisfy both areas of focus and bring value to the organization.
Listen to the full episode to get all of Ori’s tips and recommendations on improving collaboration between Business Analysts and Project Managers.
Talk to each other. Realize the value that each other brings and how we can help each other. Meet at the beginning of the project to identify collaboration opportunities right at the start.
President, PM Konnectors
Ori Schibi is President of PM Konnectors, a company that provides a wide range of innovative business solutions with a focus on strategy, change management, project management and business analysis. Ori has over 25 years experience in project and program management, training and facilitation, and business transformation. Ori is also the author of 2 books; Managing Stakeholder Expectations for Project Success and Effective PM and BA Role Collaboration.
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