Role of Business Analyst In Project Management - Henry Harvin

Business Analyst Role is looked as a fancy term and is a popular designation used by the organizations.

Even today, people judge you by what designation you hold and not by the real work you do or profile you hold.

People get amazed when you tell your designation as ‘business analyst’, they actually think that you are at some senior position in the organisation you work with. 

What a weight this term holds?

I know you are laughing.

But on a serious note, the role of a business analyst is very critical for any organisation. The role is as heavy as its name sounds. And is undoubtedly a good career field.

If you aspire to become a business analyst, you must understand the role and responsibilities in detail.

The analyst role becomes very critical when the organisation is upgrading its scale from medium to high. 

Continue reading if you want detail information about the role of the analyst.

Who is a Business Analyst?

A business analyst is an expert who analyses the business of an organization like documents, processes, systems, technology, finance etc. 

Types of Business Analyst 

There are four fields in business analysts if you want to pursue.

  1. Strategic Planning – Strategic Planner evaluates the strategic activities, planning of the organisation
  1. Business and Operation Analyst – Evaluates the policies and procedure to be followed by the organization to do the business.
  1. Process Definition and Design Analyst – Analyses of process designs and business modelling
  1. IT and Technology Business Analyst – Analyses the technical systems and the rules followed by the IT team.

Role of Business Analyst in Project Management

A business analyst is a core intermediate of an organisation. The role needs several dimensions and has many responsibilities to take care.

That are critical and directly impacts companies core business. 

A business analyst takes care of all the processes and its successful working related to its project. The main responsibilities of business analysts include:

  1. Generating new ideas
  2. Developing the ideas
  3. Implementing so that they function well

A business analyst ensures that the processes are well organised. He must pose a clear understanding of each process and its functioning related to specific projects.

He should be able to identify any loopholes and provide a solution to resolve.

The role of business analyst requires communication at several levels. He bridges the gap between the higher management and the project team.

He also needs to communicate with various departments like sales, marketing, finance, accounts, production, human resource etc.

An analyst also needs to keep a track of the market, customer behaviour which may impact companies’ business. He needs to be dynamic in terms of ideas, action.

He should be able to adapt quickly to the changing market and customer demands. 

There are 5 knowledge areas and task where the expertise of a business analyst is required.

Business Planning and Analysis

Plan, organize and coordinate the efforts of the project team and communicate to the stakeholders. 

Plan – Organise Stakeholder engagement – Plan governance – Review performance

Collaboration

Communication and collaboration have to be maintained with all the stakeholders.

Prepare – Conduct – Communicate – Manage

Life Cycle Management

Manage and maintain the life cycle of the project i.e. from inception to end.

Trace – Maintain – Prioritise – Asses – Approve

Analysing Strategy

Analysing structure and design and to align the overall strategy with the business need

Analyse current state – Defining future – Risk Assessment – Plan B (change strategy)

Evaluation/Solution

Evaluating the performance and removal of any constraints by providing a solution.

Measure – Analyse – Asses – Recommend Action

10 Responsibilities of Business Analyst

  1. Understanding Business Requirement

This is the first thing a business analyst has to do. To understand the requirement of the business with the project stakeholders and then make the detail layout for others to understand.

The key skill here is to convert the exact requirement of stakeholders in front of all the stakeholders. All the parties involved need to be aligned with a single vision.

He also clarifies all the questions of developers, team members etc with the project stakeholders.

Business analysts also sometimes have to do negotiations and political manoeuvring in certain situations.

  1. Understanding all possibilities of the systems

A business analyst may sound like a technical person but there are many things he has to align.

Person needs to work with key stakeholders as well as with the people. He is responsible for the formulation of the vision of the entire business project.

Thus, possibilities are:

Individual should be well versed with all the systems; his prime objective is to understand the primary goal and convert the same into reality.

He has to gauge initial requirements, the scope etc of the project. 

  1. Presentations and Public Speaking

This is one of the most important roles for a business analyst. has to have good communication and presentation skills.

An Individual has to make numerous presentations during the project like project progress, designs, business requirement etc to the stakeholders.

Analyst has to be clear in what and how he presents as he is a spokesperson for everyone. 

He has to clearly communicate the requirement and explain them in detail to his team members and all the parties involve.

And also, to the management and stakeholders on the progress. His job is to impress the stakeholders so that the team/organisation receives the growth for the business. 

  1. Detailing of the project

This is one of the core responsibilities of the business analyst, to elaborate each element of the project in detail.

An analyst chalks out a detailed plan about the requirement an expectation of the management.

Also,

And he further explains the same to other department involved. The information should be available in such a detail, that anyone who sees it should understand what has to be done next. 

There are many things at stake if a business analyst misses on anything. His judgement on how much funds should be allocated to the project.

He needs to create an entire data model, specifications and requirements in detail. There should not be any loop-holes left in the planning process.

He is responsible to make the functional preparations which are presented to the stakeholders and then the project manager and other team members.

5. Support the Project Implementation

A business analyst works from beginning to end of a project life cycle. Though he is not directly involved in project implementation but he overlooks each aspect of it indirectly.

If there is any problems or issues during the whole phase, it is the responsibility of a business analyst to take care.

Once the project is implemented properly, it is his responsibility to keep a check, if any support is required.

This also involves to see is the end customers or stakeholder satisfied with the outcome. He also supports the project team by taking care of all the documentation of the project.

Also, he has to take off any new need arising during the implementation phase. 

6. Functional and Non-Functional project requirements

The business analyst should have the skills to determine what’s and how’s of the project. He should understand both functional and non-functional requirements pertaining to the project.  

Functional requirement answers all the questions related to ‘what’: what should a project do? What should be the end result? Etc

Beside non-functional requirements are the ‘how’ part: how it will be attained? How the project should work?

Albeit non-functional requirement should be given greater importance, so that once the product is in the market, what further development is required can be worked upon.

Identically, project’s success depends upon the execution from both functional and non-functional work.

7. User Acceptance 

The business analyst job doesn’t end with only identifying business needs and requirement of the project. He needs to check that the product is performing well at customers end. 

The product delivers a satisfactory result to the end-user. If the user doesn’t accept the product, the project is a complete fail. Acceptance by the customer is the key focus area for a business analyst. 

8. Decision Making & Problem Solving 

Building business requirement and other specifications and phases of documentation is the main role of a business analyst. There are many techniques which he can adapt to take decisions.

Additionally, he should be able to identify the root cause of the problem and then should be able to identify the right technique and come up with a solution. 

Some of the example of decision making and problem-solving technique:
  1. Decision-making technique: Decision matrix 
  2. Problem-Solving Techniques: Brainstorming, Five Whys

9. Maintenance 

Maintenance of systems and operations is one of the important responsibilities of a business analyst. 

Preventing defects, making changes, correcting any issues, enhancement of the existing systems is some of the things he should be hands-on.

Yet tasks involve detail evaluation of system and processes so that there are no gaps. 

Stilll work also involves preparing documents and reports like maintenance report, system validation report, etc. He needs to keep a quality check and suggest any changes, improvement.

10. Team Building

Building a team is a crucial role for a business analyst.  The success or failure of any project is dependent on how the team performs.

One has ensure that he has the right resources to perform. They also has to manage that there are no ego clashes or frictions among the team members.

Also, needs to build the team in a way that all the members should feel their task is important and work towards the success of the project.

What expertise does the business analyst bring to the organisation?

  • Defining goals and objective as per the business requirements 
  • Mapping business processes i.e. user requirement 
  • Defining functional and non-functional requirements 
  • Making business rules
  • Constructing prototypes, context diagrams, user stories etc
  • Managing backlog
  • Assisting QA (quality assurance) teams
  • Estimating ROI (return on investment) of the project 
  • Analysing ROI after the project
Business analysts

How is Business Analyst different from Project Manager?

There are few organisations which can segregate the role of business analyst viz a viz project manager.  Most of the companies do not even know that these two roles need unique expertise.

And those who know are unable to provide a clear specification of their roles and responsibilities.

The ultimate objective of both project manager and business analyst is same i.e. improving efficiency and business value. But both these roles require a different set of skills.

A project manager is responsible for efficient project planning while the business analyst takes care of the quality of the project.

If the project manager plans and controls the project, an analyst measures the project in value. The project manager defines the path to success.

A business analyst removes unwanted activities from that path. 

The main difference lies in their name itself:

Let us further drill down and understand the clear difference between both the roles and identify the required skillset for both of these roles.

SkillsetProject Manager (PM)Business Analyst (BM)
LeadershipMotivates his team members Assigns and coordinates all team activitiesHelps in resolving any conflictsIs responsible for projects success or failureWorks closely with the teamGuide and coaches the team
Problem Solving Creates a plan for solving problemsRemoves any bottlenecksTakes care of any issues related to the projectIdentifies business requirementEstablishes the facts and numbersAnalyses the root cause Look for all the possible options
Decision MakingManages all approvals related to the projectPrioritize the tasks based on its importanceAllocates resourcesAnalysis impact of any decision on the overall businessSuggest improvement areas
Critical ThinkingTakes control of any changeDevelop ScheduleConversion of analytics into decisions
PerspectiveLooks strategy at an organisational level Foresee and resolves any issues related to the project Provide knowledge at a macro levelProvide knowledge at a micro levelViews strategy at the process level
InfluencingManage everyone expectations from stakeholders to team membersHandle any variance related to the projectBuilds rapport with all the teams and customersMeets expectations of business with its users
CommunicationMaintains communication with all the parties involvedOrganise team meetings for aligning everyone with the projectPresent reports to management on the progressCommunicates with teams and customersPoses report writing skills
Time ManagementResponsible for project deadlinesPrioritize work to meet the timelinesEnsures on-time deliveryFacilitate the entire work package

So, you must be thinking there are no real difference business analyst and project manager. 

Well, sometimes roles of business analyst and project manager are played by the same person.

Let us explore the scenarios where both the roles are performed by the same person.
  • The project is small in terms of scope, time, cost or any other thing
  • There is less or no risk involved in handling the project like compliance, business or legal issues
  • The organizational structure or processes does not support or see them as two different roles.
  • The organisational culture does not see them as two different roles. One person handles multiple roles in such organisations.
  • When having two different roles can affect the working of other cross-functional teams or if it creates friction in other departments.
  • There are constraints in terms of budget or resources

Besides these problems are quite genuine when running a business.

Rather two distinct roles is an ideal scenario when there is no constraint on budgets and resources are abundantly available etc. 

Rather, these two roles if performed by separate people will bring better results and improves efficiency. 

Let us understand why project manager and business manager should be different?

  • Project manager focusses more on the project aspect like creating baselines, resources and project constraints, communication, and all the other issues related to the project.

Whereas, the business analyst focuses upon the end result, the final outcome. 

  • Both of them have different objectives. But, the project manager role is to meet the project objective while the business analyst role is to reach business goals.
  • Taking inputs and suggestion is critical in project managers roles. A project manager will seek suggestions and inputs from different people and departments including business analyst.
  • Then business analyst would be focussed more upon on how the business analysis would be completed or documents required and legalities.

They both focus on different aspects if seen from the technical point of view. Each role is a full-time role. As, one person tries to manage both the roles.

It will have an impact on both the project and end product. The risk factor will increase and quality would be compromised in attainting the target. 

Conclusion:

There are multiple phases involved in the project.
Comparatively, will be a time when the project manager role will be neglected and at some phase.

The business analyst role would be ignored.

As the saying goes;

“Jack of all trades, Master of none”. 

Moreover, if one person handles both the roles, the result would be average or just above average. 

I hope you have understood the difference between the project manager and business analyst. And the role of a business analyst in an organisation.

If you have any question, feel free to ask in the comment section below. We would be happy to answer them.

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Author

Sarika Moghe is a Certified Content Writer, Travel Blogger, Meditation Teacher, and Pranic Healer. Ms Moghe is an MBA (Finance and Marketing) by qualification with 9+ years of corporate experience in the media industry as a research and marketing professional. She believes in- “Visualize the things you want. See It! Feel It! Believe it! And you will definitely achieve it” For more about her work, please follow her Website- https://sarikathanedarmoghe.com

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