I seem to run into this question a lot recently “What’s the ideal relationship between a Business Analyst and Project Manager role?” so I thought I’d address it here.
First off, some people do fill both the BA and PM roles. I understand that but also think it’s far from ideal. Different skills are required for each job, so if someone plays both the BA and PM role, then it’s important to ensure they have the skillset for both job functions. Beyond that, I know in some organizations, the BA has been seen as subordinate to the PM. I very much disagree with that organizational structure. They are peers. They are often in totally different organizations even. Either way, both roles really demand the respect of the other.
There is a bit of overlap in the types of activities these roles do. For example, BAs should do some planning – specifically around requirements work. They should put together the details of the plan that says what activities they will perform and how long those take. Similarly PMs sometimes have to use some elicitation skills to understand things about the project and facilitation skills to lead collaborative discussions.
In order to have a successful and respectful relationship, I recommend the BA and PM both understand the roles and responsibilities of one another. Similarly know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work with those.
Here are a few more related questions I’ve gotten:
Does a PM need to have domain knowledge if there is a BA? Yes actually. I feel it is important that the PM understands what’s going on in a project, not just is moving tasks around in a plan. If they don’t understand it, they will lose credibility with their team quickly.
Who should be engaged first on a project – BA or PM? Both at the beginning! The PM is a bit more obvious. But the BA is sometimes overlooked up front. The BA needs to come in early to help elicit business objectives to understand if the project even should start/continue.
What made my best PM relationship work? She was hard working, smart, we had a mutual respect for one another’s strengths in our roles, and we communicated well in all forms.