In this episode, author and consultant Cheryl Lee helps us to improve the collaboration and partnership between Business Analysts and Project Managers.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • Why there’s often tension between the Business Analyst and Project Manager
  • What steps you can take to build a better PM/BA partnership
  • How to become an advocate for Business Analysis
  • Why understanding the value of each perspective is important, even for those with combined roles and in Agile environments

Show Notes

There’s often tension between the Business Analyst and the Project Manager.  The Project Manager wants everything delivered on time and on budget while the Business Analyst wants to ensure the project scope is covered with appropriate quality.

This tension can lead to missed opportunities to collaborate and form a strong partnership between the PM and BA which would benefit the project and the organization.

With Project Managers more focused on the project and Business Analysts more focused on the product, how can we find a common ground to form a powerful partnership?


Building Better Partnerships

The first thing we need to do to build a better partnership between the Business Analyst and Project Manager is to understand the value that each role contributes to the project.  To take it a step beyond the role, work to see the value in project management and business analysis.

Even in Agile where the titles of Business Analyst and Project Manager might not exist, thinking about the skills, activities, and perspective of each of the roles will be important.

Looking at the value of the outcomes produced by both perspectives helps those with a combined PM/BA role and those without a PM or BA title to understand the importance of each area.

Once you understand the value of each perspective, identify the integration points; those areas that are shared between business analysis and project management.  Areas such as risk management and stakeholder management are common areas shared by both perspectives.


Advocating the BA Role

As the Project Manager role is more standardized and often better understood, the issue of not understanding the value is usually in the area of business analysis.  Misunderstandings such as this can lead to undervaluing the Business Analyst.

Misunderstandings about the BA role are no one’s fault; it’s simply a fact.  Business Analysis hasn’t been around quite as long as project management and many people are not clear on how the BA adds value.

To address this, Business analysts need to become advocated for the role.  One way to become an advocate for the BA role is to start a community of practice to share knowledge and elevate skills.  These sessions may draw in non-BAs to learn more as well, helping to create transparency as to what a BA does and change perceptions.


Don’t Short Change Your Role

Business Analysts are often asked why it takes so long to get requirements.  We’re sometimes pressured to reduce the amount of time it takes to elicit and document the requirements.

Giving in to this pressure by arbitrarily reducing the amount of time you truly need to elicit quality requirements can lead to missed or poor requirements and have negative impacts to the project.

One way to address this is to discuss lessons learned on similar projects in which timelines were reduced and requirements quality suffered.

Another approach is to write down all of the analysis activities that it will take to deliver the requirements for your project with sufficient quality and meeting the needs of stakeholders.  Make sure to consider not only the activity itself (such as a requirements workshop), but also any preparation activities and trailing activities needed.

Use the list to get a bottom-up estimation of the time needed and discuss the activities with the Project Manager and the team.  This will lead to a better understanding of what you do, why those activities are needed, and why you need the time to do things properly.

Listing activities needed by both the BA and the PM can also help to identify integration points and areas in which the BA and PM should work together.


Listen to the full episode to hear more of Cheryl’s advice on improving the BA/PM partnership.



Your Homework

Make time for business analysis.  Create a to-do list for analysis activities needed to achieve the desired outcomes and share it with the Project Manager.  Having a conversation about the needed analysis activities and their value leads to greater transparency and can help identify opportunities to partner on some activities.


Links mentioned in this episode:

Cheryl Lee

Cheryl Lee

Cheryl Lee is a certified Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA), Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP), and the co-author of the book “Effective PM and BA Role Collaboration”.

Cheryl is also the President of a Toronto-based consulting firm that offers consulting and training services within the areas of business analysis, project management and change management. As a highly experienced business analysis and project management practitioner and trainer, Cheryl has mastered the ability to harmonize the PM and BA roles in order to deliver seamless and successful implementations.

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