The Business Analyst and Project Management (Part 3 of a series)

With one exception (described later), I believe (know!) that having one person be both the PM and BA on project is a bad thing…

The PM side of the person will be trying to get the project done on time within budget.

The BA side of the person will be trying to deliver the best solution to meet the needs of the business.

The two sides of the person will struggle with each other until, BOOM, their head explodes…

OK, not literally, but it isn’t healthy. It is fine that there is tension in a project around that PM triangle, but it is much better if it is spread over two people, so that it can be worked out in a visible way.

Which reminds me of the quote: “You can have it good, fast, or cheap; pick any two.”

So, I would say to a BA/PM the same thing I would say to a BA/Tester: “hope you’re getting two salaries.”

The exception? I have and will do PM work on smaller projects where I am the only BA; this means I am managing just myself through project initiation and requirements. If I can then get paired with a good lead developer, I can keep a handle on the rest of the project. Why will I do this? Because talented PMs are a fairly rare commodity at a typical company, and usually handle the larger projects that need them. In good shops, I have found PMs are usually willing to give you advice when you need it too, so you are not alone without support.

But, if I was asked to manage a project that had more BAs assigned than just me, I would balk. Of course, this would likely make it a larger project that would rate a real PM, so I have not had to face this too often.

I guess I am trying to say that I am not inflexible about a BA (especially employees) doing non-requirements work, just as long it is understood that’s what’s happening.  It helps if you have some skill or at least interest in the other role. For me, having been involved in a lot of methodology work over the years, the idea of task definition and work breakdown structures is not alien. But as per my previous post, it would not be wise to ask me to test…

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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