The line between a business analyst and project manager is
starting to erode. Do companies now want a business analyst, a project manager
or a hybrid?
it seems like there has been a lot of ambiguity surrounding the description of
a role on a job spec and what the job may actually require. In some cases job
descriptions may be over-embellished, making the positions seem more senior
than they might be, in an attempt to invite more experienced professionals to
the draw. However, most of the time, this involves a professional applying for
one role, but does the work of two.
the orchestra, the business analyst would be a violinist creating wonderful
music, and the project manager would be the conductor. The business analyst is
an important individual contributor while the project manager is in a
leadership role within the context of the project team. Usually, projects, like
an orchestra, should include both a BA and a PM. However, with limited budgets,
time, scale and scope viability issues, it may be worth discussing which of the
two a company would rather hire.
managers coordinate all of the contributors to the project, to deliver value to
internal and external stakeholders. When hiring a project manager, an employer
will be looking for an individual who knows how to identify and track risks,
and will be able to schedule effectively by tracking resources and work
dependencies. They can also monitor time, cost and quality to quickly identify
when a project isn’t where it’s expected to be.
However, with a
business analyst, you may not know what you are getting. You may end up with
someone who is little more than a scribe or someone who takes charge of
delivering a holistic business solution. The skills and techniques could range
from an expert facilitator to a subject matter expert to a process analyst to
someone who is little more than a technical writer. The business analyst should
understand the business need, business capabilities, and range of available
options and provide a robust justification for the proposed solutions.
are several elements that define the business analyst’s value.
they help define, manage and control the scope of the product or solution.
Second, as a dedicated resource, they communicate the urgency, value, benefit
and risk of the proposed solution. Third, they clearly analyze, document and
manage the project’s requirements. They also define the problem, get buy-in
from stakeholders and the project team, and define and communicate the business
true value of a business analyst may be perceived by their ability to correctly
research business problems and develop solutions that address needs. When
appropriately aligned with organizational goals, business analysts can create a
tremendous amount of value. However, their full value can become diluted when
they’re solely focused on internal initiatives.
BUT THEN THE QUESTION
ARISES, WHY NOT A HYBRID?
A hybrid BA / PM may
have their own merits and limitations, some of which may centralize around the
common theme of either being taken advantage of through having to work two jobs
in one or by not being able to (technically) specialize and therefore not being
able to set themselves apart from the competition.
the biggest issue seems to be the definition of the role; the term business
analyst is very general. Although the International Institute of Business
Analysis (IIBA) has done a good job of defining the skill set a business
analyst needs, the biggest problem is still that the role and responsibilities
of BAs vary so widely amongst different organizations that a single level of
expectation or judgement does not exist.
a single definition of business analyst should be created within which the role
should be broken into different functions or roles (process, product,
regulatory, data management) instead of sticking to a big tent approach.
Business analysts must also aim to show a more direct relationship to value, in
order to avoid facing increasing marginalization, i.e. being perceived as an
overhead rather than an essential value-producing function.
for the future may include more project managers adding the business analyst
skill set to their professional development by taking certification courses and
training in business analysis. The same goes for senior business analysts; they
may seek project management certification and take on project management full
time. The roles should ideally become more clearly defined and so allowing
professionals to flock to the role that best meets their personal,
professional, and organizational needs.