Project Manager & Business Analyst: How Their Roles Are Different

If given a choice, who would you choose for your Team? A Project Manager or a Business Analyst? What if both the responsibilities will be pursued by a sole individual?

6 mins read
Jun 25, 2021

If given a choice, who would you choose for your Team? A Project Manager or a Business Analyst? What if both the responsibilities will be pursued by a sole individual? Won’t this be super instrumental, keeping the project overall resources occupancy and budget in mind, or when in dire need these two roles can be specified/ hired separately.

Several questions come across when this sorting through the roles has to be done. Like, encompassing product management, project management, and business analysis.

This article will bring up the areas where a Project Manager’s and Business Analyst’s responsibilities could possibly get their wires crossed and can lead to major confusion.

While the BA is mainly responsible for requirement gathering and documenting them accordingly for the developers to understand the actual needs, the project manager is the one who plays a leadership role and oversees the entire project from start to end. No doubt, both the roles fulfill different gaps and have their own significance individually hence, clearing the fog between them is important.

Let’s start with this frequently asked question:

Are these two roles “Business Analyst & Project Manager” interchangeable?

The answer, of course, is Yes!! A Business Analyst and a Project Manager have many similarities in their roles and responsibilities. Roles, be it, collecting requirements, planning business analysis/market potential, request for proposals (RFP), defining the scope, gathering customer requirements, and defining business needs are common or can say it overlaps! Utilising a single resource for handling such plentiful responsibilities could be an onus, however, in a few scenarios like limited budget and project scope, one could go for a single role. Let me frameline some more points:

Factors when both the roles can be combined

  • Small project
  • Meagre Budget/ Resources
  • Risks associated with the projects are low.
  • Small team-multiple roles
  • Business model of the company does not support the separation of the roles.
PROJECT MANAGER BUSINESS ANALYST Planning the ProjectListeningAdministeringMonitoringSupervisingMotivatingRisk ManagingConstraint ManagingResource ManagingReporting Understanding Business Investigating Clarifying Questioning Quantifying Modelling Formalising Risk Identifying Innovating Facilitating Feeding back Listening Collaborating Steering towards goal PROJECT SCOPE SOLUTION SCOPE

If the boundary is one full-time person, I shall consider to have a contract project manager then a contract business analyst. On the other hand, one might hire a business analyst for full time and then add a contract manager for project as they’re more readily available than a contract business analyst.

When is it not feasible for one person to play both the roles?

Paradoxically, there could be situations where it is implausible to unite these roles as one to be performed by a single person. Both PM and BA work with the appropriate types of teams, understanding the business domains, and demonstrating strong communication skills. When the project scope is big, it is required to have more focus on the scheduling of a project, costing, and resource management. It is where the project manager chimes in and performs the previously mentioned roles. Meanwhile, the Business Analyst can spotlight their time and energy on communicating with stakeholders and ensuring accurate requirements management. These could be framelined as

Factors that favor separating the PM and BA roles

  • Big Project
  • Impact on many system and business interfaces
  • Many stakeholders involved and impacted
  • Project will have many versions/releases
  • Requirements incomplete, unclear or changing
One altercation/dispute between business analysts and project managers is often the issue of change.

Business Analyst & Project Manager, the roles are different, so what causes the confusion?

Both the Project Manager and Business Analysts steer towards organizations’ goals and play roles in respect to the project’s context. The PMs play a leadership role, having a whole team to work together and handle any hindrances whereas the BAs seem to play more of an individual contributor. Most of the time, BAs initiating the project make them a key participant and thus making their role much closer to a Project Manager. There are a few key areas where there is a high possibility for the Project Manager and the Business Analyst to get their ‘wires crossed’. Let’s look at the two most typical areas where this could happen in a project:
Planning Aspects – Undoubtedly, the overall planning responsibility of a project lies on the shoulder of a Project Manager but it’s the BA who works closely with the stakeholders and the developers and manages requirements while planning for the project. So while working together, it’s very indispensable to set boundaries for the two. Stakeholder Engagements – Many a times, it could be possible that the stakeholders have requirements related discussion with the PM, where he could provide new requirements to which the PM agrees in absence of BA and the same could happen vice-versa, where the timeline delivery related discussions are done with the BA. So. it’s the PM/BA roles to formally educate the stakeholder that this has to be intimated  to either of them so that there would be no harder scenarios as in what was decided. This could be better explained via the Responsibility (RACI) Matrix, which could be another subject to shed light on…
Project Manager Business Analyst
Defines Project Scope Defines Business Scope
Estimate Resources Required Models Business (As-Is) & Requirements (To-Be)
Develops Project Plan Develops Requirements Work Plan
Manages the Project Risks Manages Requirements
Performs Project Closeout Supports Testing

Conclusion

In a crux, it is very much required to be familiar with both the key project roles and what they do. Due to the changing trends in the market especially, IT sector, these positions are required to be very well understood to be decisive whether any of the resources can be managed independently or can be pooled up as a single to cater the business and project goals. As both the project and business go hand in hand, understanding the efficient resource utilization can help avoid any mismanagement when the roles are overlapping.
Business Analysis Project Manager