To PM or to BA? That is the Question

In the world of projects, there is a question that has been ongoing and needs to be addressed: “Can a Project Manager simultaneously perform as the Business Analyst on a project?” Is it a wise move for a PM to aspire to acquire some knowledge and skills as a BA?  The PM’s role is to meet the project objectives, while the BA’s role is to help the organization reach their goals.  The roles differ, but both being executed effectively by one candidate is not an impossibility.  In fact, it is a necessity in the current professional environment due to the pandemic.  It is essential that you continually evolve and stay versatile in your skill sets. This will ultimately add value to your clients and set you apart from the rest.

Historically it has been recommended to separate the roles to ensure the work of both roles is executed successfully.  However the scenario of an organization launching a project with the intention of having just one person perform both roles as a Project Manager and Business Analyst is becoming all to common. You may be thinking: “Whoa, that is not ideal or smart.” In reality, this is not far-fetched. Most organizations no longer have the bandwidth nor budget to staff both a Business Analyst and Project Manager on their projects.

So, what are you to do if you find yourself in a similar situation? Do you panic and fold, or do you rise to the occasion and succeed at seeing your project through to the end? I challenge you to pick the latter. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Get involved and acquire more knowledge about the business. Ask questions! Engage your stakeholders! Take the time to understand how the project will ultimately add value to the overall portfolio of the organization. This is NOT a professional dilemma, but rather a professional OPPORTUNITY.

Growth Opportunities to Develop Your BA Skills:

  • Rather than diving immediately into planning and budgeting when a project starts, spend time learning the business problem to be solved and ultimately the value to be realized by the project.
  • Take the responsibility to create the detailed requirements documentation yourself.
  • Understand the business process and solution requirements by engaging with stakeholders, helping to prioritize requirements, and analyze the objectives.

Gain two significant advantages by playing both roles…

  1. The knowledge you acquire, will make your day-to-day interactions with both your project team and business users more productive. It will aid you with properly analyzing any risk or issue ahead of time and give you the information you need to create a more achievable project plan for your project.
  2. You get the opportunity to cultivate a long and outstanding relationship with the client. Getting more involved in the realm of business analysis will set you apart from the typical project manager.  As you acquire more knowledge, you ultimately become an asset to the organization.

Being able to function as both the Project Manager and Business Analyst may not be a predicament after all. What appears to be a terrifying and overwhelming scenario can end up being another win for you in your journey as a project professional if you apply yourself accordingly. Be open to building on the skills you currently possess to equip you to be prepared if the opportunity presents itself. The critical factor is that you continue to strive to add value in your project environment: Engage a Business Analyst in the organization. Look into taking courses and ultimately get certified.

Remember, you are the glue to seeing your project through to the end. Aspire to be your best at what you do!