The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world

New Ideas or Repackaged Old Ones? (Only Old Guys Know!)

While reviewing “Unearthing Business Requirements: Elicitation Tools and Techniques”, Rosemary Hossenlopp and Kathleen B. Hass, ManagementConcepts 2008, I discovered the role of ‘Business Analyst’, as a real, important role on projects. Yeah, I know it has been around for a long time, but this is the first time I really studied the role. (I’m really interested in the organization of projects and businesses, along with their R & Rs.)

In large complex projects and programs for DoD this role is given to a ‘Systems Engineer’, responsible for developing, eliciting and managing the requirements. They also manage the system interfaces. This is a technical role for obvious reasons. But the BA role, from reading the book and discussing at local PMI breakfast meetings, indicate it is a ‘business role’.

So I am confused, what is the BA role, and how do we know it has validity? (“Unearthing … ” talks about the BA as a requirements ‘Elicitor’, requiring a very detailed and deep knowledge of the technical aspects of the project. Is this something the business person should handle?

Breakfast meeting input indicates in some industries, the BA is a technical role. Good! It should be if they are dealing with requirements.
Don’t get me wrong, I like this book and it has very good well written content on the topic. But isn’t the role of BA also a Systems Engineering role? A role found in projects and programs since the 1950s?

Or is industry trying to create a role that will replace the PM? The importance of having business value in mind is of course very important for the project or program leadership. In a world of ‘do more with less’ ever present, I can see the benefit to industry of having one leadership role that includes skill in both the technical and the business realms. Most current PMs are lacking in business value skill, so I can see the plus side.

IS that too much to ask of a PM – be both business analyst and leader?

I wonder ………..

Jim Sloane, OPM3CC, PMP, CM and old guy!


About the Author

JIM SLOANE, B.S., OPM3-CC, PMP, has been a project management consultant and trainer for 21 years and has a diverse client base and a broad range of experience. His consulting projects have included small family owned business improvement initiatives in 2009, coaching biopharmaceutical management in 2006, , managing software development projects in 2001, PMP exam preparation training since 1998, high tech company PM training and engineering process development. Mr. Sloane has also been general manager of a construction materials company, a project manager for Lockheed Martin, and a product development engineer for an injection molding and metal forming manufacturer. Mr. Sloane is president emeritus of the Silicon Valley chapter of PMI and is a member of the OPM3 revision team.. He is an instructor at UCSC Extension, currently delivering the PMI PMP Certification Exam preparation course.
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