Should BA’s possess project management skills ?


I have been posed with this question on numerous instances and every time it has made me think..Can a business analyst do Project management or not ? Honestly this is a very tricky question. I would say it all depends on the type of role you are playing. In numerous occasions in the past, we as ERP functional consultants have been asked to play different roles like Business development,implementation manager,support staff along with functional consultant role which was the key. Personally I feel it lets you spread your wings.You get a oppurtunity to work on spectrum of things which are not discrete at all. I would have reservations if a BA plays a PM role predominantly without focusing on their basic stuffs which is consulting. Business analyst with a Project management skills always comes handy to any organization,Top it with Domain skills, man you ask for a feast !!

In this ocean of information technology, people do switch career paths.Technical,Functional & domain consultants switching gear to Business analyst is a common sight. Why not a BA do Project management tasks along with his/her BA stuff. But a word of caution is that project management is so vibrant and visible, The BA might lose his job identity !!  The BA has to constantly remind business partners that his primary responsibility is Business analysis and secondary is project management.

Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.

Business analyst will play a vital role during the initiation of the project where project scoping,requirements,use cases,solutioning the system drive the show.As the project moves to design and development phase, the BA involvement will gradually comes down.However he/she would be assisting the technical team & QA team with requirements understanding and test scripts creation,tracability matrix,testing and so on till implementation. So the BA will have his presence throughout the project,but at differing allocations.Due to BA’s heavy involvement in the initiation phase where he would have played a pivotal role of performing requirement & conducting stakeholder analysis,organizations tend to see BA as a body who can coordinate with various groups from defining requirements to transforming them to line of codes.

What makes it confusing is the kind of artifacts a orgnaization expect to be completed.Few organizations will do project scoping and incorporate solution scoping in the same artifact. the project scoping is a responsibility of the project manager and solution scope is Business analyst’s. With these 2 artifacts being merged,inevitably the responsibility shifts to Business analyst.

Solution Scope – Defines what must be delivered in order to meet the business need, and the effect of the proposed change initiative on the business and technology operations and infrastructure.

Project scope defines that the work that must be performed to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions.

However in the organization’s where artifacts are distinctly maintained,the business analyst hands will be full where he/she would not have bandwidth to perform Project management tasks at least in the initial stage..Business analyst will be defining the business analysis approach,Enterprise analysis,conduct stakeholder analysis,plan business analysis activities,plan business analysis communication,conduct elicitation,document results etc.

Once the scoping and requirements phase is completed, The project manager tracks the various project deliverables with the project plan in place. The upcoming trend in companies is to develop the project plan by PMO team and hand it over to Business analyst to track it for completion. This way they would be able to optimize the BA time. The BA’s constantly interact with the development folks to ensure that the requirements are clearly understood and have necessary information for coding. This way the BA will be throughout the SDLC life cycle in various degrees of involvement. Organizations strongly feel that BA will be the right person to coordinate with development team as they have defined the requirements.This indeed helps the development team and QA team during development and testing phase of the project.

As bit of technical knowledge is considered helpful to BA’s, Project management skills will come handy for BA’s in their jobs. The BA’s should be geared up ( I mean smart) to work closely with project and program managers additional to their interactions with stakeholders,Development folks,QA analysts,Implementation SME,Domain SME’s, sponsors and so on..

Be focused but also stretch..

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