The Standish Group says three of the biggest factors that lead to failed and challenged projects are:
We should attack these threats with a vengeance. How can we do this? We add skilled requirements analysts to our teams.
The role of the project manager is to achieve the project’s goals or objectives. Who performs the business analysis tasks for the projects? That depends.
For small projects, the project manager may assume many roles including but not be limited to:
For larger projects, project managers must find ways to complete project tasks through others. They must not fall into the trap of doing everything themselves. Wise project managers recruit team members with the necessary skills and talents.
Business analysts bring a wide range of business analysis skills including requirements engineering skills: 1) elicitation, 2) analysis, 3) documentation, and 4) validation.
Notice how these skills directly relate to the top reasons for failed or challenged projects:
The project manager will have increased difficulty in achieving the project’s objectives when requirements are not properly defined and understood. Poor requirements lead to rework, adverse impacts to schedule, and negative impacts to cost.
I have benefited immensely from the business analyst’s expertise in the following ways:
Introducing business analysis into your project culture may be a significant change. Be sure to define and delimit the roles of your team members.
It is also helpful to clarify the reporting relationship between the project manager and the business analyst. Will the business analyst report to the project manager? Will the business analyst and the project manager have a peer-to-peer relationship?
Whatever you decide, map out the roles and reporting relationship in a RASI or RASIC diagram or a responsibility chart. This greatly reduces the potential for conflict.
Consider one last point when introducing business analysts to your culture—determine the pace of change. I favor a gradual change while educating stakeholders on reasons for the change. If you surprise your stakeholders with unexpected change, they will often turn on you. Be careful when moving the cheese.
For some projects, the project manager may have to perform the business analysis role. However, many project managers lack business analysis skills. Fortunately, there are ways to boost your skills.
Check out the growing field of business analysis. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) offers the CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certification. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has also created the new PMI-PBA (Professional in Business Analysis) certification to equip project managers with stronger business analysis skills.
Which is better? Both are excellent. The CBAP is broader than the PMI-PBA and includes strategic and enterprise business analysis activities. The PMI-PBA focuses on requirements management in the context of projects and programs. Here is a more in-depth comparison of the two certifications.
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