What’s Hot and What’s Not--Trends in Business Analysis Webinar Follow-up

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What’s Hot and What’s Not--Trends in Business Analysis Webinar Follow-up

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Categories: Business Analysis

This blog is in response to some great discussion and questions that arose during and after the webinar I gave on projectmanagement.com on March 4, 2015. Some of these topics included the role of the BA and PM, certifications, and Agile.

1.       Can the PM and the BA play both roles? There were many comments and questions about the role of the PM and BA, how they worked together, whether it was one or two roles. The industry has swung wildly between recognizing the BA and PM as separate roles and thinking it makes sense to combine them. I’ve written several Trends articles on this subject, starting in 2009. So where are we in 2015? I have not changed my opinion since 2009. The two roles require different skills and competencies. We tell our clients to think of the analogy of building a house when thinking about roles. The sponsor is the homeowner, the builder/general contractor is the PM, and the architect is the BA. Mike Frenette also used this analogy when he asked the question during the chat, “Would you use an architect to build your house?” Are there people who have the skills to do both? Yes, indeed. Does it make sense for those people to do both roles? Not on large projects it doesn’t. However, even though I’m not jumping up and down about it, I still stick by my prediction that in the near future, business analysis work will be performed by a variety of different roles-- PMs, developers, business stakeholders, etc.

2.       What is the relationship between the two roles—does one work for the other? The question came up about moving from a PM to a BA role and vice versa. We used to think of the BA role as working for the PM role. Now we’re seeing the roles more as peer-to-peer. And interestingly, I’ve seen quite a few PMs becoming BAs, as well as BAs who had been promoted to PM going back to the BA role.

3.       What about the BA on Agile projects? BAs are used in a variety of ways or not at all on Agile projects. There have been heated discussions on LinkedIn discussion groups and at conferences about this role. While many organizations use BAs in the product owner role, the fundamental issue of the product owner having to make business decisions makes this problematic. Regardless of who does it, business analysis is essential to Agile projects, which still have requirements, and there is a need to go from high-level user stories to the detail needed to develop the features. This in-depth analysis is perfect for a business analyst. The BA can also coach the product owner and help ensure requirements are tested.

4.       PMI-PBA vs. CBAP. There was a great deal of discussion on the chat log about certifications—which is better the PBA or CBAP. Here’s a summary of some of the blogs and articles I’ve written on the topic:

a.       Whether it’s ideal or not, many people play that dual role of BA/PM.  If you do, the PMI-PBA is a perfect certification for you.

b.      The CBAP is a gold standard and will continue to be so in the area of business analysis. There are fewer than 5,000 CBAPS today—it’s a hard certification to obtain, but you might want to pursue it if you’re planning a career in business analysis.

c.       It makes sense to get both if you’re a consultant working or expecting to work in various organizations. Trainers, too, benefit from having both designations.

Additional questions:

·         What other projects, besides software development and process improvement works well with Agile? At Watermark we develop our courseware using Agile. We have also found that our marketing campaigns, and for that matter all things marketing, are best done with an Agile approach.

·         Is PMI's Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide the same as the BABOK®? No, it’s not. However, all of us who were lead authors on the PBA Practice Guide were also lead authors on the BABOK® Guide. There are many similarities, but some very, very large differences. More on this subject for anyone interested.

·         Does anyone have suggestions for studying for the PMI-PBA exam. Absolutely! Among other things, my husband Richard and I will be giving another webinar on the PBA on April 17 at 11:00 CST. I’d be happy to provide more information –articles, blogs, and lots and lots of information--about the PBA and CBAP certifications, so please feel free to reach out to me.

For more information on articles, blogs, and free webinars, please visit http://www.watermarklearning.com/blog/


Posted by Elizabeth Larson on: March 13, 2015 01:25 PM | Permalink

Comments (16)

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Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for the informative Blog post, and for the great webinar a few months back.

Do you think there will come a time when more people hold the PMI-PBA than the CBAP? Is the gold standard description you used due to numbers, content, or both?

I would be interested in a webinar contrasting the PKBOK/Business Analysis for Practitioners - a Practice Guide with the BABOK.

Interested? :)


Hi Mike,
Great question about the Gold Standard. I think there will be more PMI-PBA holders than CBAP holders for a variety of reasons. There are a bunch of complexities though, only one of which is that IIBA will be offering a variety of levels of certifications. They (IIBA) have said that they want to maintain the CBAP designation as the "gold standard," though. There is more to be said on that...

A comparison between the BABOK 3.0 and the BA for Practitioners Guide is a very cool idea. Perhaps this fall? Right now I''m working on my next Global Congress paper and Watermark''s CBAP Prep Study Guide for Version 3. Unfortunately, I''m not an expert on the PKBOK and probably will not take that on.

Good stuff, Elizabeth! I look forward to that comparison!


Definitely a manager role requires business requirements. The scope is the basis for the entire project, but is well defined and can have many difficulties with other subsidiary plans. It is for this reason that the discipline related to requirements management is taking so important.

Nice article. Worth reading.

HI Elizabeth,

Can you elaborate further on why it would make sense for a consultant to hold both certifications? I have had similar musings but would love to hear the reasons behind this.

As always, very insightful work.

- Steve

Also, I am "borrowing" that reference to building a house. What a simple explanation to the age old question of PM/BA hybrid roles.

@Steve, In a nutshell different organizations recognize and appreciate different certifications. Consultants often work in a variety of organizations, so it is helpful to have a variety of certifications. You never know what you'll need.

Thanks for the informative Blog

In today's world manager should have both PM and BA skills to thrive and i agree PMI-PBA certification will be on the rise

Thanks for sharing

Very good article.Thanks for sharing!

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