7 Hat Challenge :: Master Business Analyst Roles
In a perfect world, the project manager and business analyst role would be two distinct roles; however when it comes to smaller sized projects and the need to reduce project costs, organizations are now looking for candidates who are knowledgeable and competent in both roles. Whether you’re a project manager or business analyst (or already wearing both hats!), we’ll help you explore why diversifying your knowledge will not only increase your marketability, but will also make you a project superstar!
Reduce Rework on Your Projects
Do it right the first time. Wouldn’t that be nice? Did you know that according to Carnegie Mellon, 25%-40% of all spending on projects is wasted as a result of re-work? And that 70% – 85% of all project rework costs are due to errors in requirements? The key is to collaborate with your stakeholders and define complete and accurate business requirements at the beginning of the project (business analysis),so the right activities can be implemented throughout the project lifecycle to meet these requirements (project manager). If you can wear both hats, not only you can ensure the project is delivered on time and within budget, but you can also bridge the requirements gap between the business line and IT so that everyone is happy with the end result!
Manage the Project Better from the Start
“Coulda, shoulda, woulda.” Start with a solid foundation and decrease your chances of hearing these types of statements when it’s time to wrap up your project. When a project is just getting underway, there are areas such as project scope definition, development of the project statement of purpose, project objectives, and identification of business risks that require expertise in both project management and business analysis. Having a good handle on business analysis ensures that the scope is feasible and that the correct requirements are being gathered, analyzed, and documented to meet the stakeholders’ needs. On the flip side, having a strong grasp in project management will enable you to review the requirements, adjust the plan as necessary, and accurately review the ultimate solution.
So, your project is up and running. You’ve defined project requirements and they were signed off by the project’s stakeholders. All you need to do now is watch your project team execute and deliver, right? Ahhhhh no. Projects are never that simple, and you can most likely expect that the requirements will change throughout the project’s lifecycle; and that’s why change management is so dependent on the convergence of both project management and business analysis skills. Being able to find a happy medium between conflicting priorities—push forward to meet deadlines and stay on budget (project manager), or take a step back to champion for the stakeholders and push for the requirements (business analyst) — is both an art and a science. Diversifying your talents and abilities in both areas can help you more effectively manage last minute changes and make the best decision for all parties involved.
Improve Communications Between IT, the Business Team, and the Project Team
According to PMI®, many project practitioners have observed that over 90% of project issues arise due to communication problems. This establishes the significant role of communication when it comes to project successes. One of the biggest challenges with which project managers are tasked is making sure that their team knows what they are doing, what is expected of them, and what their priorities are. Consequently, if the project team members do not know their tasks and how they should go about accomplishing them, the entire project can turn into a chaotic mess.
In addition to all of this, the absence of business analyst know-how could cause a lack of communication between the project’s stakeholders (customers, business line, IT, etc.) and overall understanding of what the project’s requirements are. When this is missing, not only does the project fail to get off the ground or move forward—but essential requirements, changes, and risks could be missed and your project could fail.
Increases Your Job Security within Your Organization
As the economy has tightened, organizations have decreased their project budgets; however, they still need projects to be completed, and combining the role of the project manager and business analyst on projects has been one method to help cut costs, without cancelling the project altogether. A recent survey from BA Times™, a leading authority in the business analysis field, found that an equal number of “project professionals” (a term to encompass both project managers and business analysts) feel that the project manager and business analyst role will be combined on many projects3. Unfortunately, the people who don’t have both skill sets may be the ones left in the dust when push comes to shove.
Increases Your Value in the Marketplace
Economic issues aside, there are many organizations with reduced head count and smaller-scoped projects. Often times, these projects cannot be cost-effective with both the project manager and business analyst involved and there will generally be one person assigned to act as both roles. Hence, companies large and small, are looking for individuals who can play this dual role and meeting these high expectations will make you more valuable in today’s competitive business environment. Challenging? Of course. But you’ll find that the payoffs are huge—especially at your next interview!
Acquire Project Success
The Standish Group’s CHAOS Summary 2009 report showed us the highest project failure rate in over a decade. In 2008, 32% of all projects succeeded and were delivered on time, on budget, and with required features and functions. Furthermore, 44% were challenged (late, over budget, and/or with less than the required features and functions) and 24% failed (cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used).
Project failures are not only expensive, but can have very negative consequences for the reputation of the company and project team. How can we prevent failure? According to research, the vast majority of this waste is completely avoidable and better requirements management could help. Did you know that according to Meta Group Research, 60-80% of project failures can be attributed directly to poor requirements gathering, analysis, and management?5
While having project management skills are critical, the project can come to a grinding halt if the business requirements are not correctly defined upfront. In order for your projects to be successful, you also need solid business analysis skills to successfully determine business requirements so all the stakeholders’ needs are met and understood early on in the process.
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