The Intersection of Project Management and Business Analysis

Aug 8 07:06 2008 John Reiling Print This Article

Business Analyst skills are important to have on the project team, and not a bad thing for a Project Manager to have! In either case, the business analysis function is one that needs to be managed with care and the wisdom of experience. This entails putting the business analysis function into perspective.

Business Analysis skills are critical on the project team,Guest Posting and a desirable part of the Project Manager's skill set! In either case, the business analysis function is one that needs to be managed with care and the wisdom of experience. This entails putting the business analysis function into perspective.

Consider the roles that business analysts typically play: requirements management, systems analysis, business analysis, requirements analysis, or consulting. One key concept within the framework of a project is that the business analysis process does not just happen once. It is not just executing on a task in the Work Breakdown Schedule. It is a task that takes continuous monitoring, and it starts at a high level near the beginning of the project.

Here are some key timeframes within the project lifecycle where business analysis comes to the forefront:

1. Enterprise Analysis and Making a Business Case - Each project must fit into the plans of the organization as a whole. In depth familiarity with that plan, and understanding where the subject project fits into that is a key step in building the business case. The business case must align with the strategic objectives of the organization.

2. Requirements Planning - Developing requirements is a challenge in part because of the time dimension. Requirements planning needs to describe a phased approach that forecasts and schedules how the requirements will unfold. It thus should have, as an output, a schedule for various time-based requirements gathering and documenting tasks.

3. Requirements Management - Managing requirements as they evolve is an important task. In some organizations there is a formal Configuration Management function. There are many Configuration Management business applications out there for requirements. It is important to understand the degree of complexity, the expected level of change or evolution over the course of the project, and the risks involved related to requirements change developments.

4. Eliciting Requirements - Drawing requirements out of various stakeholders is as much an art as a science. The science part provides a framework, usually in the form of ways the structure questions, common pitfalls, and how to document. However, it is an art to develop rapport with varying stakeholders and probe deeply to uncover the core needs.

5. Requirements Analysis and Models - The documentation of requirements is important to assuring that everyone is "on the same page". Often this requires developing sophisticated architectures, drawings, mathematical models, and prototypes that consolidate requirements input and reflect back to stakeholders the proposed solution. This provides further subject matter for conversations around the continuously unfolding requirements.

6. Communicating and Implementing Requirements - With a given set of requirements, the business analysis function must assure stakeholder buy-in, but also must ensure that those who will implement the requirements are equally "plugged in". One challenge is to ensure that the stakeholders are in clear and in agreement with what will be implemented, and the implementers are clear on what they need to do. Due to the detailed and often technical nature of the work, work packages at the implementation level are well removed from the stakeholder, so the business analyst servers to bridge that gap and "broker" that relationship.

The Project Management and Business Analysis functions do overlap, but are distinctly different. The Project Manager is concerned with the totality of the project, and is concerned mostly with ensuring progress against schedule, risk management and mitigation, and delivering of the product of the project on time, within budget, and to specified quality standards. The Business Analyst focusses on defining the product of the project and ensures it meets the targeted business needs. This job is a project lifecycle function and does not end until the stakeholders verify that the product meets their requirements. A combination of Project Management and Business Aanalysis skills is quite valuable, and only benefits the project, program, organization, and professionals in their careers.

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About Article Author

John Reiling
John Reiling

John Reiling, PMP, MBA is experienced Project Manager and analyst. John's web site Project Management Training Online, provides numerous courses for PDUs and certification training for both Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP). John's Project Management blog is at PMcrunch.com.

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