Project Managers and Business Analysts Working Together

PMI has created a new certification for Business Analysts.  I think this reflects a continuing interest and growth in the profession of business analysis – creating the right requirements to maximize value and limit change in new product development.  Of course, this is beneficial to the project manager and the project as a whole.

A few months ago my company hired a business analyst in an existing group.  The addition of this BA to the software team was advocated by the director of software project management and reports directly to that person.  When an organization introduces a new position or function into a team where people know their roles or, at least, know which functions they typically fulfill, there is opportunity for both increased productivity and confusion.  This has prompted me to think about the responsibilities o the project manager (PM) and the business analyst (BA).  Some view the PM and BA as two sides of the same coin–complementary, but mutually exclusive.

According to the Project Manager’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK), the roles are defined as follows:

  • The PM manages the project.  “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to provide activities to meet the project requirements.”
  • The BA identifies the business needs.  “Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”

In many projects there will be opportunity for overlap that can cause conflict.  Those areas include:

  • Scope Management. A conflict can arise when the project schedule, owned by the PM is impacted by the inclusion of new requirements from the BA who owns the solution scope.
  • Communication Management. Conflicts can arise if either the PM or BA is aware of project needs that the other is not.  The PM should not make unilateral decisions.  Likewise, the BA should not make commitments without consulting with the PM.
  • Risk management. All project and product risks must be appropriately identified, and strategies to avoid those risks developed.
  • Requirements Management. The PMBOK includes collecting requirements.  This is, of course, a BA function and can be a cause for confusion between the PM and BA if not well aligned.

Recommendations to encourage a successful working relationship between the PM and BA (Enfocus Solutions):

  • Clear, documented, and mutually agreed roles and responsibilities activities.
  • Plan of when BA deliverables that will be produced that is incorporated into the overall project management plan.
  • Implement mechanisms to promote open communication.
  • Openly discuss the reporting relationship.
  • Both roles should actively engage the business sponsor.
  • Build a partnership based on mutual trust and respect.
  • Work through conflicts with clear and frequent communications.


What is the relationship like between the PMs and BAs in your companies?

Are the responsibilities of these roles clearly defined in your companies?  Are those role definitions always respected?

Has anyone ever served as both PM and BA?

3 thoughts on “Project Managers and Business Analysts Working Together

  1. Currently, I am a business analyst, though not certified via PMI. My roles typically involve much of what is described above. Lots of questions are asked so that I can get a good understanding of the overall project, but I focus mainly on the details. Items such as how does one part of this project, hammered out for one group affect the other teams? Have the requirements for all parties involved been clearly defined so that we can create a solution that works for the department or company. It would seem that I spend more time working as a peer to my clients than our PMs do. PMs at my organization tend to act as conduits between my organization and the clients and ensure that projects stay on task, on budget and the resources are available to perform their duties. While I work very closely with Project Managers, we do very different tasks; both people are essential to the success of the project. The one area that I struggle with is developing a common documentation approach that will allow BA and PM documentation to seamlessly merge into a single presentable document.

  2. We have a System Architecturer within a project who shares some BA responsibilities on project mentioned above (coordinating with SMEs, making sure products are built right, managing requirement changes and their compliance etc.). Some of BA responsibilities are also handled by Business Development Manager who focused on bringing in new business, interacting with customers. etc. In short, BA responsibilities are shared by System Architecturer and Business Development Manager.

  3. When using a Business Analyst and a Project Manager, It seems critical to clearly define the difference in the roles to avoid confusion and conflict. I can see how working together, they can create real value for the organization, but if they try to do each other’s work, it would be chaos. The project manager seems to be more of a facilitator while the analyst functions as a contributor. As with any partnership, communication between the PM and the BA will be key. Establishing expectations early will prevent trouble down the road.

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