Project Whisperer

As a business analyst you can get only two distinct images of your project manager: “A supportive and motivating project coach” or “A slave driver asking the perennial question: ‘So when will you get the <fill in your deliverable>  done?’ “. Sometimes, both these styles can be exhibited by the same person at various phases of the project. To a large extent the way it surfaces depends on the personality, experience level and the background of the PM. So, my questions to all the project managers out there are:

Is there way that the project management community can engage business analysts to improve the synergy between them?

How soon do business analysts need to be engaged in a project?

What can PMs and BAs do together to elevate the team performance?

The Webcast That Started This Thread

In a recent webcast, with Pam Stanton, the author of “The Project Whisperer” I got the honor of speaking to 200+ Project Managers from around the world. We focused on some of the things that project managers can do to better engage their business analysts. The topic of the webcast was “PMs and BAs: Perfect Together“. Well, the reason we can be perfect together is because:

“We have complimenting skill sets that when combined well together can produce results on-time, on-budget, and on-scope, with every project focussing on the right business objectives, required functionality and with desired quality”

Too idealistic eh?

The PERFECT Formula for Engaging Business Analysts

Well, skill sets is just one side of the equation. The other more important side that both Pam and I felt was the shared passion for helping the business achieve its objectives. Both PMs and BAs when collaborate well, and nurture the healthy tension that exists between them, can deliver better quality projects. Being an obsessive, compulsive ‘acronymophile’, I created an acronym for “How PMs can engage their BAs” in seven different ways – PERFECT – which expands to:

  1. P – Plan Together – It can be fruitful to involve a business analyst in the project planning activity. Business analysts normally create a requirements management plan (RMP), and if a PM can work with the BA to integrate this into the bigger project plan it would be a great way to involve a business analyst.
  2. E – Enterprise Analyze Together – Finding out the reasons for undertaking a project together, can be a great activity to increase the synergy. Nailing down the scope items, and objectives of the project in the project charter can become easier when a BA is involved. Unfortunately, most of the times a BA doesn’t get involved in the project charter creation. I would love to see this changing in the days to come.
  3. R – Radar for Risks – Using business analysts as a “project radar” to sense risks in advance, is another great way to involve business analysts. Since BAs work so closely with the stakeholders, have a better understanding of the business requirements’ priority, and overall a tighter knowledge of the assumptions and constraints of the project.
  4. F – Frequent Communication – It is extremely important that PMs and BAs establish solid communication trust between each other. Relationship building is at the seat of establishing this trust. When I asked my current project manager about what is one thing she values the most in business analysts, she said, “I like it when they proactively come to talk to me”. In order that this can happen, both PMs and BAs need to establish that free flowing communication channel.
  5. E – Evangelize Together – At the end of the day, both PMs and BAs are working towards achieving a common business goal, and delivering value to the business. Being project and value evangelists is another joint activity that PMs can engage their business analysts in. This can mean passionately   advocating the value that the project is delivering to the business, valuing everyone’s contribution, and celebrating hitting the milestones.
  6. C – Challenge Each Other – This is the seat of the healthy tension that exists between the PMs and BAs. A project manager can constantly challenge the analysis, and a BA can reason and trace back the extended analysis to the critical business requirements. This dialogue prevents the trap of analysis paralysis, which some business analysts tend to be guilty of sometimes.
  7. T – Team Whisper – This ties in with Pillar 4 of my book. It is going the extra mile to be a project whisperer. It is understanding that tools, and methodologies are just one side of the equation. The other more important side is people. A project manager can involve a business analyst to remove the barriers for the team. This is the moment when both start to look beyond the Gantt Charts and the Business Process Flows.

The Mind Map As Promised

I hope that gave you some food for thought. I have also created a mind map to summarize some of these points and added a few other pointers. You can download this mind map using the link below: (As promised in the webcast, I am making this available to the community).

How can PMs Engage BAs Effectively – The PERFECT Formula

Nothing is perfect in this world, and so is this formula for engagement. So, I now invite you to list your thoughts on this using the comments section below.

What do you think about the PERFECT Formula? Are there additional things that could be done? What would be some of the challenges that will prevent a BA/PM from applying any of the steps?

Would love to hear your thoughts.