Open Letter to Project Managers from a Business Analyst - Converging 360
Rita Mulcahy's Original Exam Prep ™

Open Letter to Project Managers from a Business Analyst

RE: We Don’t Want Your Job!

I think I speak for most business analysts when I say, we love business analysis work, we love being part of a project team, and we love the fact that YOU are running the project! We don’t want to take your job away from you.

I am writing this letter because some project managers feel threatened by the growing business analysis profession, and I want to put your fears to rest. We are not interested in taking over your role. Companies with a clear understanding of the value of business analysis are offering different career tracks for business analysts to grow without forcing them to become project managers. This is a great relief to those of us who have no desire to be a project manager because it doesn’t fit our natural strengths or interests. Business analyst is a very different role from project manager, and people who love business analysis usually aren’t interested in managing projects or people.

Let me tell you why we don’t want your job and why you might want to get one of us on your projects. Rather than trying to control you or the project, we will help you make the project successful. Business analysts are problem solvers and critical thinkers who would rather study, analyze, learn, ponder, and design solutions than manage, budget, track, monitor, or control. Many business analysts are introverts who prefer to elicit business needs and problems and then work alone, figuring out solutions and following up on details. We like to collaborate with people, not manage or direct them. We like to discuss complex problems and solutions, not schedule or make assignments. We like to develop and ask questions of stakeholders, operating almost like investigative journalists, digging to find the root cause of a problem and evaluating possible solutions.

We Need You

Business analysts need project managers because you have skills we lack. You stay focused on the end goal, while we sometimes get distracted by interesting, but not relevant, details. You are able to make decisions and move the team forward even when you don’t have every bit of information; we sometimes get stuck in analysis paralysis. You pay attention to timelines and milestones while we sometimes become engrossed and lose track of time. So you can see how much we need you, and we hope you appreciate the value we add to the team. Requesting a business analyst for your team allows you to delegate work to an empowered team member and have a partner to help with the stakeholder management process.

You Need Us

Business analysts have skills and knowledge that help a project succeed by discovering the core business need (“business requirement”) and figuring out a way to address it. Sometimes the change a stakeholder asks for isn’t really the best idea. We have the patience to spend countless hours listening to businesspeople, customers, end users, and managers who have lots of ideas for changes. We then help them see which ideas are not feasible or cost-effective before other members of our team waste time on them. We manage conflicting stakeholder requirements. We document functional and nonfunctional requirements. We help develop transition plans, striving for as little interruption to the business as possible.  We answer hundreds of questions from the technical team members about detailed product characteristics (“solution requirements”). Should a field on this web page be a drop-down list or a radio button? Should customers be required to provide their home address when they are purchasing a downloadable product? How many digits are needed for the rate code?

With a strong business analyst on your team, you will not have to worry about the solution details; business analysts are obsessive about details. You won’t get bogged down in lengthy requirements discussions or have to worry if all impacted stakeholders have been given a chance to voice their opinions. You’ll be able to ask your business analysts on the day before implementation, “Are we ready to go?” and feel confident when they answer yes.

Summary

Successful professionals rarely have only one skill set. People who work to improve their organizations are successful because they are able to work in various roles on teams and use multiple skills as needed.  The project manager/business analyst partnership should be a symbiotic, respectful relationship. Our strong partnerships leverage each others skills, knowledge, and interests to increase business value and project success. Like yin and yang, we complement each other and rely on each other to fortify the team and shore up our weaknesses. Business analysts don’t want your job. We want to do our jobs on your team.

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