Learn to work with your BA
Whether your project is large or small, as a project manager you will no doubt find yourself working with a business analyst at some point in your career.
A business analyst on the project team will help you understand how the project contributes to the company overall and will ensure that you get a high quality solution that works to achieve strategic and tactical objectives. Which project manager doesn’t want that?
Working towards something that really adds business value should be every project manager’s goal, so if you are offered the help of a BA, take it!
The role of a business analyst can vary from someone who mainly spends time identifying user requirements to someone who contributes at a senior strategic level through portfolio work and assesses solutions prior to them becoming projects to ensure the organisation invests sensibly.
However your business analyst colleagues work in your company, you are sure to find value in their contribution. Here are some tips for an effective working relationship.
Appreciate and agree what the BA can offer
The BA and the project manager both have clear roles to play on a project, both adding value and helping to deliver the end solution in a way that meets all the customer’s requirements.
It’s helpful, however, to define clear roles and responsibilities so that everyone knows what each individual is responsible for, just as you would for other key roles on the project.
A BA has a role to play throughout the project but perhaps most importantly at the beginning. While the project manager is going through the project initiation process, the BA can be working in parallel defining the requirements.
They understand the business circumstances that led to this project being kicked off in the first place and they can support the project throughout its lifecycle. They can also be the voice of the customer when the customer isn’t present, and help translate the customer’s requirements into a project scope that can be effectively delivered.
There’s another key moment that working in tandem becomes even more important than normal: testing. The BA will be able to track whether the requirements have been achieved adequately and advise the customer and project team during the testing phase.
As every BA is different, and every organisation expects slightly different things from their BA teams, you will have to agree roles and responsibilities with the individuals each time.
Plan in the BA work
The project schedule is the main tool of the project manager. It sets out exactly what is to be done, who will do it and how long things will take.
If you are working with a business analyst, make sure that you include all the BA work in your schedule as some of it will have implications for when other tasks can start or when resources are available.
Sit down with the BA and establish what their activities will involve, what time they need to complete them and who they will have to work with. This will help you both avoid resource clashes or delays later.
It may feel as if the BA and project manager work in completely different ways, with different people. In some projects that may be the case, but in projects where the relationship is most effective they work in partnership and communicate regularly.
The BA should attend all relevant project team meetings as they will nearly always have something valuable to contribute. They can also get involved with lessons learned meetings as they will probably be the person on the team closest to the business users and with the best understanding of how the project is affecting the business teams.
Work together on risk
Risk management is often seen as a critical project management process because failure to adequately manage risk can hamper or even halt a project.
The business analyst can also contribute massively to the risk management activities because they will have a great understanding of the impact of the risk to the business and will also be able to identify risks that others on the team might not be able to see.
Get them involved in risk management as early as possible.
Collectively manage change
The BA, being close to the business users, can be invaluable in helping the rest of the project team understand the changes being raised, the rationale behind them, the impact on the project and in preparing a recommendation for whether this change should be accepted or not. If a change is accepted, the BA can document the requirements and help the project manager understand what needs to change on the schedule to accommodate the new plans.
A business analyst is a professional with great communication skills who can present complex ideas clearly. They are excellent problem solvers and can analyse difficult situations, and because of this they are a great asset on project teams, especially in environments where constant change is the norm.
Who works in a BA role in your business? If you don’t already work closely with them, it’s time to get them involved! Your projects can only improve as a result.
How to work effectively with business analysts