Project Management

BA vs. PM: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

So very many acronyms, so little time…

We abbreviate, of course, to expedite talking about something that is long, complicated or that we talk about frequently. So project managers become PMs. Steering committees become SCs. Project Management Offices become PMOs. Information Technology becomes IT (and begets hundreds of other mind-numbing acronyms in the process). And Business Analysts have become BAs.

In the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in awareness, visibility and formality associated with business analysis. At the same time, there’s been an increasing intersection between business analysis and project management. The two concepts show up in the same conversations. They get talked about in the same meetings. The two roles are sometimes performed by the same people. And members of each community crash each other’s events.

All of this can leave people scratching their heads and wondering what it all means? Where are the overlaps? Where are the boundaries? What are the divisions? What does it mean to be a business analyst relative to what it means to being a project manager? When would I want one over the other? And is there any value to being both?

The alignment between business analysis and project management is relatively unsurprising, given the emphasis that both play on understanding and managing stakeholder expectations and …


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"The degree of one's emotion varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts--the less you know, the hotter you get."

- Bertrand Russell