This is the final installment of the series ‘Working Together’. I’ll be discussing how to improve working relationships between business analysts and project managers.
Changes in working relationships are often more about culture than specific tasks. However, there are things you can do that will help to smoothen any kinks between project managers and business analysts. Here are four suggestions:
Roles and responsibilities matrix. Create a matrix or document that outlines the roles and responsibilities for your project. If there isn’t one, ask your project manager. Betterprojects.net has a lively discussion about roles and responsibilities matrixes. They are a good starting point for who does what and can help everyone be clear about what is expected.
They can also serve as professional development guides. So a PM can get BA experience or a PM can get PM experience. Then, a development activity can be built around it.
But, simply writing it down will not guarantee that people will follow it. Worst case scenario is that it creates a “that’s not me job” mentality with people hiding behind the matrix. It can still be a useful way to have a discussion about who does what. This should avoid some of those “What does a BA again?” questions. Know the goals of your project. Common goals are so important. The problem is that people will often get different results from the project. As such, their personal goals may not align with the project’s.
However, it is important that everyone on the project team understands the goals and the outcome of the work. It makes teamwork easier when everyone knows what they are working towards, and can clearly see where their contribution fits in.
Project managers must balance “schedule/budget” with “quality/stakeholder fulfillment” Project managers care about budget and schedule. Although it’s not fair to say we don’t care enough about stakeholder satisfaction and quality, we shouldn’t lose sight of these elements. As a BA, you should challenge your project manager for keeping quality and stakeholder satisfaction at the forefront.
If the final product is not good enough, it is pointless to deliver a project on schedule and within budget. Sometimes project managers get so focused on money and dates that they forget that the end product must be useful and workable for our customer and meet all their functional requirements. Remember!
Valuing the contributions of everyone sounds all too easy, but it’s actually about the professionalism and respect that comes from knowing that you are all working towards the same goal. It’s not about doing another’s job. If someone is stepping on your toes, tell them to stop.
Share your frustrations, and most importantly, We asked the audience at the Business Analysis conference, where I presented a version of this paper to them, how many had problems in their working relationships with project managers. When we asked them if the problem was their fault, a large number of them answered yes. It was surprising that very few people had done anything about the problem. Talk about it and do something about it. Your working relationships with your colleagues will not improve if you whine to the cat after you return home.
Have you missed any previous installments of this series on ‘working together?’ Read part 1 here: The Triple ConstraintRead part 2 here – What project managers value. Read part 3 here – What project managers don’t value