For many years, Your Clear Next Step has been bridging gaps and bringing people closer together so that we can have better, more successful work days. Between Project Managers and Business Analysts, traditional Waterfall and more iterative, Agile approaches, there have been some divisions over the years, but the common ground is pretty abundant. It turns out they’re not as far apart as some may want you to think, and they’re directly applicable to what many of us do in our day jobs.
Friends, the art and science of business analysis and project management are two sides of the same coin. You don’t have to be a “Business Analyst” to be interested in the work of business analysis, nor do you have to be in the role of a “Project Manager” to care about the work of project management. If you are in either of these roles formally, I have found that the better you understand the other role, the more successful you’ll be in your own role.
Three things business analysis and project management have in common, and what we need to do about it.
Without our customers, we can’t survive. Even if you never meet your customers face to face, that doesn’t make them any less important. In any business or organization, we deliver a product or service to our customers - without those customers, we’d be without a purpose or a mission.
- Business Analysis includes understanding the customer needs and keeping those in mind in the pursuit of delivering value.
- Project Management includes making sure that the expectations are set and met, including those of the customer.
- Whether you’re using a traditional waterfall approach, Agile approach or something in between, the customer is still the end consumer of what we deliver.
Now more than ever, it’s critical that we identify our customers, figure out what they need, and help them see the value that we as an organization bring to them, and that we deliver on that value to them.
Application: What can you do right now for your customers?
Collaboration is better than isolation. Whether we’re facilitating a meeting, understanding a problem, or creating a solution, we’re better together, and our collaboration and interaction skills are honed in the practice of these two disciplines.
- Project Management includes communication management, stakeholder management, and human resources management - all activities that cannot be done without human interaction of some sort.
- Business Analysis requires elicitation to understand needs, verbal and written communication, training and knowledge-transfer, and teamwork - all activities that include interacting with other humans.
- Whether you’re using a traditional waterfall approach, Agile approach, or something in between, when we treat each other as humans, we get better results from everyone.
In the current environment, collaboration requires a different level of technical savvy and creativity, a new level of patience, and a new sense of humor. Now more than ever, it’s important that we sharpen our skills in our interpersonal interactions!
Application: What can you do right now to improve collaboration with your colleagues?
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Whether we’re delivering a solution in a traditional waterfall project approach or using a more iterative approach like Agile, whether we’re folding an origami frog, building a dog house, or entering into a multi-million dollar service market, making time to plan keeps us from unnecessary pain by ensuring we’re all on the same page and we’ve anticipated the biggest hurdles.
- Business Analysis includes a planning and monitoring component, and understanding of strategy and goals, management of requirements throughout the lifecycle of the project, and an evaluation of how well the solution meets the stated needs.
- Project Management involves bringing together the plan for the scope, the schedule, the budget, the communication, the human resources, the risk, the quality, and the procurement; and it includes monitoring and controlling along the way to make sure things stay on track.
- Whether you’re using a traditional waterfall approach, Agile approach, or something in between, having a vision, a road-map, and a big-picture plan for what we’re trying to accomplish, supplemented by a more detailed plan for at least the next few days that addresses at least the biggest obstacles likely to derail us, will help us deliver better results with fewer unpleasant surprises.
Right now, in our current environment, the time-range for planning is different from what it was, but that doesn’t make planning any less important. Making adjustments to the plan based on the realities of the situation is critical, and things around us keep changing. Anticipating and planning for risks should be part of our daily habits right now, regardless of what role we play.
Application: What can you do right now to address a risk that could impact you or those closest to you?
“Ok, Sinikka, but who should really be tasked with key work that makes the functions of Business Analysis and Project Management great?”
And to that, I say:
Anyone who cares about your customers.
Anyone who collaborates with others to help understand the stakeholders and their needs.
Anyone who collaborates with others to deliver solutions.
Anyone who plans for where we’re headed, how we’ll get there, and helps monitor and maintain control along the way.