Project Management

Sorting Out Overlapping vs. Complementary or Supporting Processes

From the Building the Foundation: The BOK on BA Blog
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A new collaborative blog featuring the contributions from the core team members of PMI's Foundational Standard in Business Analysis. This blog will provide the community with insight into PMI's development of the standard to generate professional discussions about the content in advance of the scheduled reviews.

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As Cheryl mentioned in her recent blog entry, business analysis is a competency needed across projects, programs and portfolios.  She gave you a sneak peek at how we clarified the relationship between business analysis and project, program and portfolio management (which I’ll refer to as "management" for the remainder of this blog).   But wait, there’s more!  As the core team began to frame the content we were developing, we realized that we were delving into areas where we referred to work which is often considered part of management.  And so we had to think hard about how we would distinguish, for example, how business analysis efforts figure into creating  a project charter or deciding how to engage stakeholders.   We were sure that the efforts were not overlapping in a redundant way, so how best to explain the differences? Certainly, the product focus of business analysis and the project/program/portfolio focus of management is one difference, but what else would we need to call out?

Two patterns emerged for us for situations in which there was overlapping effort, both of which were based on collaboration of business analysis and management:

  1. Some business analysis efforts are complementary to management tasks.  So, for example, management has a strong and primary role in determining a stakeholder engagement and communication approach.  Whether determined in a formal or informal manner, those responsible for business analysis define aspects of that approach for business analysis in collaboration with management and with stakeholders. 
  2. Some business analysis efforts are supporting tasks for management.    For example, business analysis is needed  for the preparation of a project charter, where those responsible for business analysis “collaborate on charter development with the sponsoring entity and stakeholder resources using the business analysis knowledge, experience, and product information acquired during needs analysis and business case development efforts.”   As we have mentioned in earlier posts, we are trying to focus on business analysis as a discipline rather than the role of the business analyst. We use Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman’s, It’s the Goal, Not the Role as a motto on our team to remind ourselves of this important distinction.  Seen in this light, "business analysis thinking" in support for charter development is performed by everyone who has responsibility for the necessary analysis, regardless of role or title.

All and all, thinking through how to present the relationship between business analysis and management reinforced for us the  value of having PMI address business analysis: by looking at the nature of the relationship between management and analysis efforts, highlighting how some aspects of management efforts involve business analysis and also aligning the vocabulary between the disciplines,  PMI will help improve the collaboration between management and business analysis that is so critical for successful projects. 

Posted by Sue Burk on: February 09, 2017 08:15 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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I like the slogan "It's the goal, not the role" - but it's very hard to talk to others when they always set role = person. It needs some abstract thinking to separate these concerns: goal/discipline, role, person - interrelated but not identical - and always a n:m relationship (at least in real company or project lives).

Even harder if they set discipline = role = person...

Management, business analysis and PM all work win thin the same projects/programs/portfolios.

Thank you, Sue. I like 'its the goal, not the role' slogan, and the inference that business analysis is a thought process, a way of thinking, and a 'role' that does not necessarily have to be performed by a BA.

Thanks for sharing!

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