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Maximize the Business Analyst–Project Manager Relationship

Although many teams nowadays have one person function as both the project manager (PM) and business analyst (BA), a lot of teams still have different people performing those roles. One of the challenges on a project with a separate BA and PM is clarifying the responsibilities between the individuals.

Because you and the PM interact with the same stakeholders, you both need to be very clear on what roles each of you’ll play during a project.

To help tackle this challenge, schedule a PM and BA partnership meeting. Have this meeting early in the initiation phase of a project to open the lines of communication and give yourself and the PM a greater chance for success. Here’s a four-step process you can follow to help guide the meeting.

  1. Assess yourself.

    Prior to the meeting with your PM, have a clear picture of what you want to do and how you can best contribute to the project. To build a strong partnership, you first need to know yourself. What are your strengths; what tasks do you enjoy doing the most? What are your personal preferences? People always work harder and better on work they enjoy.

    For example, if you enjoy all aspects of project scoping, let the PM know that you can help with or lead that activity for the project.

  2. Get to know each other and discuss how best to work with one another.

    If you haven’t worked together recently (or ever), discuss individual strengths and weaknesses. Find out as much as you can about your partner. Does he work better in the morning or afternoon? Does he prefer working mostly as a team, or would he rather do certain tasks on his own and then review with you later?

    Here are some specific items to discuss: work history (jobs, roles, projects, and so on); passions, strengths, and areas of challenge; feelings about the partnership and how you each like to work with others; tasks (both PM and BA work) you each enjoy and excel at.

    Using the information you gather about each other and the project, decide who will do what on the project. Titles and predefined tasks for that title matter less than getting the best person to accomplish a task. Ideally, you want a balance between a strong PM and a strong BA.

  3. Discuss project characteristics.

    Discuss the project specifically, using the project charter as your guide. Think through the best ways to communicate with each other and the various stakeholders during the project. Make sure both of you are clear and in agreement on the project objectives and the key stakeholders.

  4. Discuss the requirements approach.

    Make sure you and the PM are in agreement on your requirements approach and on which requirement types need to be elicited, analyzed, and communicated. Confirm what documentation may be required for the project. For elicitation, discuss the techniques you may use. If your stakeholders are at different locations, talk about the possibility of some face-to-face sessions and discuss providing a travel budget to accommodate that need.

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