Candidates who aspire to handle key positions in project management are often confused between the roles played by Project Managers and Business Analysts in various projects. This is mainly due to the overlapping duties and responsibilities shared between them.
A Project Manager is assigned with the task of resolving issues and managing resources of a particular project whereas a Business Analyst needs to ensure that the delivered project meets the requirements of the stakeholders.
Though these duties seem to be completely different from each other, the roles they fulfill to achieve the desired outcome are not mutually exclusive.
Therefore, a lot of companies that do not understand the finer nuances between their responsibilities or cannot afford to appoint two separate professionals tend to hire one person who can manage and fulfill the responsibilities of both Project Manager and Business Analyst.
To make it more understandable for the budding professionals let’s define the roles and objectives of both these posts clearly:
In layman’s language, a Project Manager is a person who has to complete a given project within the given budget and timeline. Therefore, he has to gather resources, chalk out plans, divide the responsibilities between team members, monitor progress, and manage the budget.
On the other hand, a Business Analyst has to gather requirements from the stakeholders, understand the issue or need, and document them accordingly so that the other team members can execute their duties without any issues.
Now let’s differentiate them based on their core responsibilities:
Creating a project brief
The project brief contains the scope, objectives, timeframe, risks, budget, and other aspects of a given project. It is the responsibility of the project manager to create the project briefly after discussing various aspects of the project with the key stakeholders i.e. sponsors of the project.
A plan has to be created to document all the BA activities that are essential for a given project. This plan covers the estimates, requirements, and approaches included for analyzing a business. A Business Analyst needs to create this plan that also serves as one of the important parts of the overall planning of the project.
Project schedule management
The Project Manager has to manage the project schedule by creating, updating, and monitoring all the activities of a project as per the project plan that has been agreed upon by all the stakeholders.
Sometimes, a separate designation called Project Scheduler is created to carry out these tasks.
Researching on requirements
The Business Analyst needs to research and discover the requirements of all the stakeholders who will get impacted after delivering the project. For that, he may have to conduct workshops with them to receive their requirements in detail.
Managing issues & risks
If the team comes across any risks or issues while working on a project, the Project Manager has to resolve them. On most occasions, he will have to predict the risks and issues in advance and find solutions to them.
The Business Analyst needs to manage the requirements of a project via reviewing, prioritizing, and validating the project activities. He needs to manage these requirements by utilizing the Requirements Traceability Matrix and other tools.
While a BA manages the requirements, the Project Manager has to see to it that everyone working on the project is fulfilling their given tasks and duties. He needs to support them individually and as a team by providing solutions to the risks and issues faced by them. This means that he can even guide and support a Business Analyst as and when required.
Engaging with stakeholders
A Business Analyst needs to engage with the stakeholders regularly. All this communication and engagement is required for eliciting and managing the requirements that we have mentioned earlier.
A Project Manager also needs to engage with the stakeholders but that communication is related to the timeframe, scope of the project, and expectations of the stakeholders from the ongoing project.
On inspecting these core responsibilities closely, you will find that the Project Managers undertake the overall responsibility of a project whereas the Business Analysts provide an approach to streamline the tasks that are associated with business analysis. Apart from stakeholder engagement and planning, you will see that their duties are unique but they complement each other at every stage in a project’s life cycle.