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Business Analyst and Project Managers…clash of the Titans?

April 12, 2010

I usually blog on subjects relevant to BPI and IT Architecture, however I recently joined a discussion about a Project Manager (PM) and a Business Analyst (BA) on the same project as a clash of the Titans. The topic of BA and PM got my attention because I have functioned in both capacities.  As an after thought to the discussion on bridging the gap, there is only one Titan on any project – the PM, the BA and all others are Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that report to him.  Keeping to the subject…clash of the Titans…from my own experience this happens when the PM has failed to understand that a real PM is a leader, instead he functions as a Boss.  For any SME there is nothing more annoying than a dictatorial PM.  Dictatorship is the quickest way to kill the spirit of enthusiasm and creativity.  Projects are about money, time and effort with a goal to improve some operational aspect of an organization.  The PM has the charge of safeguarding the latter resources while contributing to the health of the organization, simultaneously facilitating an environment of cooperation. 

With that understanding he has to set up an atmosphere of trust and respect that will facilitate communication between him and the BA which goes a long way towards achieving the goal of the project – to meet the needs of stakeholders in a timely and cost efficient way.  The BA has the same goal, the health and well-being of the organization, from a different view – that of the business unit.  With both aiming for the same goal the PM needs to build a milieu for negotiations not just between him and the BA, but also between him, the business unit and the executive offices that tend to be unyielding when it comes to cost.  Everyone needs to get to yes, and the only way is to recognize the needs of all involved and work towards an agreement. This is why I say the PM is the Titan – his role is about leadership in a tough environment, or as my colleague Josh put it a role of facilitation. For the real PM his work is more than just timeline, work breakdown and delivery. There is a lot involved in getting to success.

As an example I was the PM for a rewrite of a legacy database, as part of the testing scenario the development team, backed by the office of the CIO proposed a ninety-day parallel processing environment. The business unit said no because of the impact on their budget and man power effort, they wanted a thirty-day, we negotiated to a sixty-day parallel giving the new code, and migrated data to run through at least two business processing cycles, after that, for another 1 month we would monitor the application in the regular production environment with the help of dedicated staff looking for non-down time issues.

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